We are basically lazy. We like it when people make our lives easy. We buy more readily when retailers make it easy for us to buy what we think we want. Amazon feeds that lazy streak in us. Amazon is an amazing resource. When you decide that you want something, you can go online at any time of the day or night and see a range of products to choose from. You can place your order and generally it is home within a matter of days, sometimes the next day. What more could you want? No travel, no parking issues, no weather to worry about. Easy!
I know everybody makes a big thing about how the site has made the founder, Jeff Bezos, very wealthy, but all his company, which has shareholders all around the world including the UK, is doing for the most part is providing a platform for other traders to sell their goods to people like you and I who are keen to buy. I know people in Scotland who bought shares in Amazon many years ago and are now sitting on a substantial potential capital gain.
But the success of Amazon and other internet companies can make us forget that there are some pretty amazing suppliers locally providing quality services at reasonable prices. And many of them are right on your doorstep. We just forget to look because we assume the internet is the best answer to every want or need.
Let me give you an example. I have known Glen Tonkin of Tomcan Flooring and Interiors for a few years. I know what he does but never really gave it much thought. So, when Glen invited me to go down to his shop, I decided that I would just go.
Now Glen is based in Kingussie, almost an hour south of Inverness so a bit of a trek for me. And yet he is providing flooring and interior solutions throughout the North of Scotland. He also sells some very distinctive furniture. I must admit that I thought a wooden floor was a wooden floor but now I understand. Glen focuses on making sure you get the right quality to suit your circumstances. I have also now seen some of the before and after photos of floors that they have restored including wooden, tile and stone.
What about tyres for your car. The biggest tyre stockist in the North of Scotland is in Alness, 20 minutes north of Inverness. Sandy Mackenzie and Mark Kelman are at the helm of Goodtread, where you can buy tyres and book in the fitting online (www.alnesstyres.co.uk ). Goodtread sell to the public but also wholesales to many independent garages around the North of Scotland including the islands.
If you are within driving distance, they will also come out to you to fit your tyres. So just like ordering from Amazon, no travelling, parking or weather issues to worry about.
We all have to raise our game because of the internet. We are just the same. The world has become a much smaller place and national and international competition is just one click away. Bookkeeping is going digital. It can be provided from anywhere. The same applies to payroll. There isn’t anything that we do that someone else could not do from the other end of the country.
This article could be read from anywhere in the world, and drum up interest in what we do. However, we do not have a knowledge of foreign tax systems and so a business owner outside of the UK is unlikely to pay us much attention. But we are bombarded regularly with offers from Indian companies for us to subcontract out our work. I know of a number of other UK accountants who do use their services, but we do not. It was our choice.
So, how are you going to compete and stay afloat in these ever changing and more competitive times. How will you adapt so that you can fulfil your customers wants in this increasingly challenging environment.
If you want to carry on this discussion but you are not sure where to find us, go to our website where you will also find some interesting reading – www.thelongpartnership.co.uk.
Alan E Long
The Long Partnership