Some renewal decisions will impact significantly on the livelihoods of traders and the question will often be asked - "Does the management decision maker have the necessary experience and understanding to reach the right conclusion?" Traders believe they hold the high ground on many issues, and inevitably conflict will arise, but there is a solution.
There are many questions that traders will claim as their territory. These are questions that require on the ground understanding - questions that only a seasoned trader could evaluate - questions that go beyond standard retail industry training - questions that can't be answered from an ivory tower or by some shopping centre trained executive. These are all unfair characterisations of our professional market management team but there have certainly have been a number of incorrect assumptions made by ill-informed observers of our market in the past.
One of the classic assumptions is that we have too many souvenir stalls selling cheap trinkets. Of course it is not the trader who decides the content of their stock range. That is decided by customers in the normal demand and supply equation. Koori Connection (the shop on Victoria St.) sold some wonderful genuine indigenous created products with a price premium that international souvenir buyers ultimately found too expensive for their needs. We do have a lot of souvenir stalls, but we also have a lot of tourists visiting our market, and the smiles on the faces of the buyers is matched only by the smiles on the faces of souvenir traders as they deposit their takings every Monday morning. It is no accident that, in a depressed business selling market, souvenir stalls still attract a good sale price at QVM.
Trader Performance Assessments is another area that questions the credentials of those making decisions. How could a non-trader understand all the ingredients that make up a good trader. It is easy to be seduced by stall appearance but a trader understands the complex economic impact of stall set-up, product selection and presentation. It does require experience and knowledge to get all those ingredients right, to maximise the customer offer and also maximise profitability. We want our market to look good but we also want sustainable market traders who are meeting the needs of their customers. It should be stressed here that we are not looking for excuses for slack untidy presentation or poor customer service. Those ingredients are not acceptable at QVM. It should also be noted that the Trader Performance Assessment proposal does include input from the trader.
There are many other areas where traders question decision making -
- New trader selection.
- Incubation monitoring.
- Stall allocations.
- Disciplinary action.
- Marketing expenditure.
- And so on.
The solution? The one ingredient that will give traders more faith in these important aspects of decision making is to include traders in the process. A panel that selects new traders should include a trader(s). A panel that proposes action based on a Trader Performance Assessment should include a trader(s). Suitable disciplinary action for rule transgressors should include participation from a trader(s). QVM needs a disputes procedure so that challenged decisions can be referred to an evaluation panel that includes traders.
QVM is heading into a very difficult renewal period. Uncertainty breeds anxiety and frustration. Giving traders more involvement in their future, and more certainty, would seem to be a very desirable outcome for everybody.