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Bruce Goose Socks
Bruce puts his best foot forward
A family business that has made bright and colourful socks in Melbourne for more than 30 years is proof that it’s never too late to enhance your operations.
Bruce Goose has been based at Queen Victoria market since 1987. It has evolved into a creative and vibrant brand that produces and sells a wide range of affordable and high-quality socks.
Locally sourced natural fibres such as cotton, bamboo and merino wool are machine-knitted into colourful and comfortable socks that allow feet to ‘breathe’. They are family designed to reflect the Bruce Goose brand message: Socks that make you smile!
The business recently modernised its retail front to reflect this message and displays socks and hosiery in purpose-built wooden boxes with the company logo. It is all designed to reflect owner Bruce Pham’s personality – energetic, relevant, creative and playful.
Since securing a lease in a String Bean Alley container store, Bruce has had four employees. Most customers are via the shop. Half are overseas tourists, 30 per cent domestic tourists and 20 per cent locals. Five percent of sales are wholesale and five per cent online.
Bruce Goose does an excellent job providing market visitors with a fun experience and lasting memory of their visit. But Bruce wanted to take the next step and sought a business mentor through the Queen Victoria Market Trader Connect Program.
“I felt I needed advice and guidance from an external source to assist with my brand promotion and overall marketing communications activities,” Bruce says.
Bruce was matched with the Small Business Mentoring Service’s Keith Hinson. Keith spent many years in senior management roles across the breadth of business operations and is particularly skilled at identifying market growth opportunities.
Bruce had 25 sessions with Keith over 10 months. Keith provided advice and support about updating the brand, including signage, messaging and visual merchandising for String Bean Alley.
He helped Bruce with display panelling, display lighting, illuminated signage and posters.
Keith says Bruce now has an improved understanding and appreciation of the need for business identity. He is more optimistic and confident about the continued success of his business, and his credibility as a progressive trader has increased.
“Bruce now has a far better understanding of the relevance of brand identity and importance of clearly defined visual merchandising,” he says. “He has a far better appreciation of project scheduling – although time management still requires focussed attention.”
Enquiries are up by 30-40 per cent, sales by 30 per cent, new customers by 20-30 per cent and profits by 20 per cent. Bruce says he also has a better grasp on prioritising issues that have the greatest impact or benefit.
“My business continues to grow from strength to strength with clearer definition of success drivers,” he says. “My work-life balance is a continued work-in-process, although trending in the right direction as a consequence of the benefits derived from improved business performance.”
Bruce has also improved wages and introduced a staff sales incentive plan. He says he would not have progressed this well without Keith’s help.
“Through the challenges my business encounters, without the help of my SBMS mentor, my business would not be in the desired position I prefer to be at,” he says.
The Small Business Mentoring Service (SBMS) is a non-government, non-profit organisation of volunteer expert mentors who give their time and experience to help small business. It is supported by Small Business Victoria, which refers clients to it. Website: www.sbms.org.au
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