Jewel Phon bought a flower shop on a whim 25 years ago. Though her original plan had been to go into the coffee business, she discovered a natural flair for flower arranging and business bloomed. Within a short time, Jewel dramatically expanded her operations.
“At first I didn’t even know how to do floristry. I basically came across an ad for a florist in a decent location next to a train station. I bought the place and threw myself into it,” she says.
After taking a break to focus on her family, the entrepreneur returned to the business refreshed and ready for a new approach four years ago. She decided to move into the event floristry and styling business, helping customers celebrate significant life events like weddings, christenings and birthdays. Jewel Phon Flowers was born.
These days Jewel is more strategic and has her partner, Damien, in tow. With a background in technology, he manages the company’s backend systems while she’s responsible for the more creative side of the business. Together they’re constantly battling to stay on top in a highly competitive industry, where brides are always looking for the next hot thing.
Inspired by sites like Instagram and Pinterest, customers’ expectations have never been higher. They want fresh designs for their events that are going to look great when they share with followers on social media.
Making time to be creative
Improving the efficiency of business admin plays an important role of carving out time and space to stay on top of evolving industry trends and customer preferences. Using Excel and Word, the team was often wasting time using the wrong versions of documents and making simple mistakes.
Even though the business was growing, they knew that maintaining a competitive edge meant spending more time with customers. The business trialled a selection of software to tackle their admin needs before discovering that QuickBooks Online covered everything they needed including payroll, invoicing and more.
“It was the most intuitive and easy to use of all the apps we looked at. That was important, since it wasn’t just going to be me using it,” Damien says.
Since implementing the online accounting solution, the business has benefited from a 50 per cent reduction in time spent on admin. That’s at least 10 hours a week. Not only has it made admin faster, it’s also given Jewel, Damien and the team access to key customer information on the go, helping them make fewer mistakes while being more responsive to supplier and customer requests.
“We’d get calls from suppliers about orders. If we didn’t have the invoice from the customer we’re ordering stock for, we’d have to rely on memory. Sometimes you’d give an incorrect date or quantity. All those things take time and money out of the business,” Jewel says.
A touch of compliance
The next admin switch Jewel Phon Flowers faces is the move to Single Touch Payroll. This Australian Taxation Office (ATO) initiative requires small businesses to submit tax and superannuation information directly to the ATO at the time of each pay run. The company first heard about the initiative via QuickBooks Online that partners with KeyPay to ensure small businesses have access to world-class STP-compliant payroll.
“A notification popped up so I investigated what it was and what I need to do,” Damien says. “The good thing is that QuickBooks is STP compliant, so we’ll be in good stead. There’s a lot built in there and the benefits go beyond being compliant, as we can also manage our finances much better with this cloud accounting solution.
“Given that we’ll be reporting more frequently to the ATO, there’s greater potential to make a mistake but I trust that there are allowances in the system for that. I also have confidence that QuickBooks will tell me what to do. I like the fact that it guides me when it comes to important things like STP.”
Looking ahead, Jewel and Damien plan to further improve efficiency and increase the creativity focus to ensure they’re delivering dream weddings and other events that clients crave.
“Everything is changing very fast. You need breathing space to think and design something new,” Jewel says.