Following the mixed results of the December 2020 ChooseCBR discount voucher scheme trial, the ACT Government this week announced a reworked version offering $2 million worth of discounts will start next month.
From Wednesday 9 June, registered customers will be able to use vouchers daily at participating businesses and receive: $10 off when you spend $20 or more; $20 off when you spend $40 or more; and $50 off when you spend $100 or more.
Businesses are now able to register, with the eligibility conditions tweaked to allow any small business with a turnover of under $10 million to be accepted, doing away with the former JobKeeper criterion.
The commencement date of 9 June, just before the Queen’s Birthday long weekend and at the start of winter, was a tactical decision to support ACT businesses through a traditionally quiet period.
“It’s colder, Canberrans are sometimes a bit more likely to stay at home,” Minister for Business Tara Cheyne said. “So having a bit of an encouragement to get out there and explore new businesses.”
Dickson Dumpling House owner Max Jing said he had a positive experience participating in last year’s ChooseCBR trial and is keen to let his customers know when the scheme recommences.
“When you’re supporting one business in Canberra, you’re supporting the broader Canberra community,” he said.
Mr Jing said he’s had a tough time of late hiring staff, and said recruitment support for small business would be welcome too.
“Definitely in Australia now it’s pretty hard to recruit people to work in the hospitality industry,” he said. “Hopefully we can have a new recruitment program to help people work for small business owners.”
According to Canberra Business Chamber CEO Graham Catt, business feedback from the December 2020 ChooseCBR trial was that more marketing and communication to businesses and customers was required, and the format of the initial scheme was too complex.
“Our members identified a range of issues – from the eligibility rules to the sign-up process, to the small value of vouchers as being overly complicated,” he said.
To improve visibility this time around, marketing materials will be physically sent out to registered businesses in the form of a toolkit providing posters, QR codes, a range of translated resources in 14 languages, as well as badges for staff.
Mr Catt said a number of “really positive changes” have been made ahead of the full rollout, citing higher voucher values; discounts that match spending one for one; customers being able to use vouchers every day; and more resources and tools for businesses.
The Canberra Liberals welcomed the changes to the scheme following the December 2020 trial, saying the government had “heeded” their feedback by expanding eligibility and offering more significant discounts.
“I called on the Minister to go back to the drawing board and am pleased she has overhauled the program,” Shadow Business Minister Leanne Castley said.
Ms Castley questioned how much taxpayer money will go toward marketing and how the scheme will be promoted outside central Canberra, given only seven Gungahlin businesses registered for last year’s trial.
In response, Ms Cheyne estimated around $200,000 will be spent promoting the program and said businesses across the ACT have been written to encouraging them to sign up.
A total of 336 businesses signed up either before or during December’s ChooseCBR trial, a number Minister for Business Tara Cheyne believes will be “much higher” this time around.
“We did have very good take-up right across the ACT,” she said, “I expect that will stay the same.”
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