Mark Ure • Latrobe Valley
Former Hazelwood Power Station plant operator, Mark Ure, came up with his business idea after his father-in-law had trouble getting his coffee van serviced. His realisation? Coffee machines and power stations work on exactly the same principle. A year later G.E.T Coffee Services is Gippsland’s only locally owned and operated professional espresso technician.
With the business idea in the back of his mind after his father in law’s experience, the need for a professional local coffee technician was brought home to Mark while visiting a Traralgon café.
“The coffee machine was playing up and I knew I could fix it. The only option for the owner was to call someone out from Melbourne, and generally speaking, local café owners I spoke with had not had good experiences.”
Mark and Nicole, his wife and business partner, were sure they had a winning idea, but struggled to find the time to devote to their fledgling business.
“We came up with the G.E.T (Gippsland Espresso Technician) Coffee Services name fairly quickly, setting the business up in early 2018. Nicole was working full-time, I was looking for other work plus looking after the kids, focusing on the business when I could. We knew we had a unique business opportunity with no local competitors. We just had to bite the bullet, make it happen.”
With the decision made to focus on G.E.T Coffee Services, Mark immersed himself in technical training on different manufacturers machines, and of course the essential steps involved in setting up a business.
“I’d never run a business before. I’d never even thought about setting up and building my own business. I knew I could do the work, but where should I start with the business? What sort of structure should I be looking at? What about the finances? Marketing the business?”
With more questions than answers Mark did a lot of his own research, speaking with successful business owners and with potential customers about the type of service they wanted.
“The most consistent message was get things right at the outset. Have a clear plan or spend years playing catch-up. We were a fair way down the track when I saw the ‘Six Steps to Success for your Small Business Program’ run by Latrobe City Council. It sounded like just what we needed.”
Six Steps to Success for your Small Business encompasses the Starting Your Business, Effective Time Management, Finance Fundamentals, Marketing Your Business, Taking Your Business Online and Business Planning Essentials Small Business Victoria workshops.
“The workshops had a big impact. With Starting Your Business, I was able to reflect on the steps we’d already taken, from testing our idea, assessing whether we had the right structure and our market analysis. With a few adjustments, we were definitely on the right track.”
“Business Planning Essentials took it to the next level. I’d struggled to put our business plan together, so this really helped put the framework of where we wanted to take the business and how to get there in place. The SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis was particularly useful, highlighting a number of business areas we needed to focus on.”
Full list of Small Business Victoria Workshops available here.
Now happy with his business structure, marketing and generating sales was the next knowledge gap to fill.
“Marketing Your Business and Taking Your Business Online had a big impact, helping us to set goals and put an effective marketing strategy in place. Building the website correctly and the importance of search engine optimisation were big ones for us, as was developing our core marketing strategy – make it personal, trade off being local, trade off not being from Melbourne.”
Word of mouth recommendation, effective online marketing and strong branding is seeing G.E.T Coffee Services client list grow month-on-month.
“We’ve finalised our branding and applied it to the van, the website is live and bringing in business and we’ve just had our best quarter ever.
“We’re on track, following our business plan and building our reputation. And we’re getting out there and seeing people face-to-face, keeping it personal, local. Give it another year and I reckon we’ll have a second technician on the road. That’s the plan.”
Attend a Business Victoria workshop or event to improve your skills, network with others and get advice on your business from an expert or mentor.
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