Sunday 6 April 2014

Co-operation Between Traders & Management

Put on you oxygen masks because this is a high level discussion. The Queen Victoria Market should be a co-operative. We don't mean a statutory co-operative but an organisation based on co-operation.

Currently we are organised as a property management company (The Queen Victoria Market Pty. Ltd.) and a large group of small retailers. The property management company makes no apologies for concentrating on its rental return to the owners. The small businesses make no apologies for concentrating on maximising retail sales to the customers.

Turn your oxygen level up a bit higher - what if QVM was run as a co-operative entity where both sides simple worked for the betterment of the market? That would mean working for the owners, the traders, and the customers. In fact, if the owners and traders just concentrated on customers, that would make things even easier. We could actually work together to achieve results.

Here is the basic premise. The key word is CO-OPERATION. Let’s have a look at what this could mean, look and feel like.

Co-operation is defined as: “The process of working together to the same end”.
Synonyms of co-operation are: “collaboration, combined effort, teamwork, partnership, coordination, liasion, association, give and take, compromise”.

"Work as a team to achieve common goals"  what a radical, incendiary, absurd idea! Not really is it, it sort of makes incredible sense. Basically the trick is to take the “them” out of us and them. 

Well how might it work in real life?

Let’s take some examples. If traders looked past THEIR short term inconvenience of construction they might see an underground car park as the best option for US (all the stakeholders of QVM) and OUR market. Locating car parking immediately adjacent to trading areas, removing the unsightly (and dangerous) food loading facilities underground, and concentrating on food presentation all make sense. But, there is a short term business penalty for US traders – construction zones reduce takings. So we need to add in a dose of compromise, and give and take. (And, yes there needs to be compensation for hardship, but let’s keep this simple just for now.)

Or what about shuttle buses? If management stopped looking at THEIR bottom line they would see that shuttle buses could be an important tool, certainly for picking up city tourists who are the lifeblood of the top end, but also for cruise ships and nearby community groups. Only traders seem to understand that a cruise ship can impact dramatically on stall turnovers throughout the whole market. Council’s (THEIR) bean counters, focussing on THEIR bottom line again have said no to that proposition even though it would raise OUR  level of business, including during a construction phase. Yes now it’s THEIR turn to compromise (oops, there we go again - yeah it's going to take a while to get out of this habit).

True co-operation cannot be based on an ‘us and them’ mindset or culture. And this is probably the first thing that needs to be changed if co-operation is truly to become a reality and not just a radical, crazy out-of-this world pipe dream.

And surely few would argue that this wouldn’t be a positive step forward for QVM. Just think of how much time and resources we spend pulling in opposite directions at QVM. Few would argue that we need a culture change.

When we talk about US we need to include everybody associated with the Queen Victoria Market. Including the part of that US that is associated with Melbourne Council, the bit that is our management company, that pretty big chunk that needs to do a bit of selling and that really big bit that would like to do a bit of buying or visiting.

Honestly, there really is no argument. If you look at this logically and reasonably, if you really are interested in the Queen Victoria Market, what we need is to work as a team to CO-OPERATE so as to make this a better place for everybody.

So is this high level thinking, plain common sense, or just a radical, crazy pie in the sky?