The business provides ATV (all-terrain vehicle) tours, based on the stunning East Coast of Tasmania, which has attracted tourists (92%) and local visitors (8%) for individual or group tours
They are uniquely licensed to operate through the Freycinet National Park allowing them to share hidden, often otherwise inaccessible locations within the park, enabling clients to experience the wonder of Freycinet in ways that few people will ever have the opportunity to do.
They receive brilliant reviews from clients on Google (avg. 4.9 stars) and TripAdvisor 5-star rating. They are the highest rating tourism provider in Tasmania based solely on reviews.
History and context
The business was established in 2001 and was purchased by current owners, a husband-and-wife team, in 2010.
Despite working long hours the business has afforded the owners a good lifestyle and provided a reasonable income for them, although there has not been a huge amount of profit after allowing for wages for the owners
One of their constant challenges has been finding and retaining good team members. They are in a relatively remote location with very limited staff accommodation options and therefore the business tends to attract tour guides who are transient and prefer casual work as opposed to wanting to build a career with the business. Add to this the varied hours of the tours and it has proven difficult to offer full-time jobs. Every year they are recruiting and training new team members which keeps pressure on the owners to ensure knowledge is shared effectively and the customer experience remains high.
Although they have procedural manuals, many were falling out of date and the owners struggle to find time to keep these current.
The use of quad bikes on their tours was becoming questionable due to some well publicised workplace accidents in the farming industry as well as increasing regulation around the vehicles. Insurance was flagged to become increasingly expensive.
Through 2020 they were not immune to the downturn in visitor numbers due to Covid restricting Tasmanian tourism and saw a sharp decline in revenue.
The impact of Covid offered equal parts worrying uncertainty and opportunity
Funding and advice
In the early stages of the Covid shutdowns, the owners were offered access to business advice through the Tasmanian Hospitality Association and the Tourism Industry Council Tasmania.
Rather than sit idle, they took advantage of this offer and the downturn in trade in 2020 to work with Advisers from Collins SBA to rethink their business. They sought advice on their business strategy, how to better manage cashflow and what to do to improve their overall business performance.
The business was able to access some Federal funding support (JobKeeper & Cashflow Boost) as well as various State Government Grants to help them through this period.
In addition to grants, they took out a State Government business development loan to invest in new vehicles and a new Brand strategy. The loan repayments for this start in July 2022.
With the support of funding and the advice they received by middle to late 2020 they were given help to analyse their business and, from this, identify changes that would improve their business for the longer term and give themselves, as owners, a wider range of options for their future.
Strategic analysis revealed the leverage available to the business through improved marketing investment. They had traditionally not done a lot of advertising or marketing however decided to invest a good amount of money last year in a rebranding and website redevelopment project with the objective of giving a fresh look that was more appealing to their target market. This also enabled them to finally differentiate from the television show, All4adventure, which had taken all google search space under the old brand name. Until this point, All4adventure didn’t come up in an online search until the 3rd or 4th page.
They received a state growth grant for $13,500 to go towards advertising through the Tourism Brochure Exchange for 12 months. This is a marketing platform they hadn’t tried in the past due to an initial outlay required verse an unknown return on investment.
They have met with a social media consultant to give them skills on using these platforms more effectively, however their lack of time has prevented them from consistent social media activity
On advice, they bit the bullet and put through a price increase in early 2021. The results from this saw no noticeable reduction in clientele numbers and a better profit margin on their tours.
They also made the transition from Quad bikes into safer side by side vehicles which has grown the maximum number of customers that can participate on a tour from 16 to 23.
They have also just reinvested a large amount of capital into a truck and vehicle trailer with the objective of making the business more mobile for delivering the tours.
Business has been good in 2021 and the early part of 2022 and they are seeing record levels of revenue go through the business and profitability is improving
They are still working long hours
There is some money in the bank
Opportunities and risks being considered
The owners have identified some exciting opportunities for growth of the business which include
One of their long terms concerns is that Parks and Wildlife Service could one day decide not to renew their license to operate in the National Park, although to date this has not been anything that has been raised with them
They have also been approached by a nearby business with an offer to possibly buy their business. After a long period of managing a busy business, this is an option they feel is worth considering.
Their key issues currently front of mind for them
How do we find and keep good staff?
What’s the most sensible way to continue to grow and improve this business that won’t be too risky?
How can we reduce the hours and pressure on us as operators of the business?
Do we continue to own and operate this business, or should we consider packing up and moving to the city where we have more educational options for our growing family?