2017 Annual IBN Conference

Another three days in central Melbourne enjoying an unseasonably warm local start to our 8th Annual Conference and Melbourne of course doing her best to welcome us in between the exciting AFL Grand Final and the breathtaking Spring Carnival, this year we managed to top it off again with another fantastic IBN get together and our most successful event ever!


The 2nd Annual IBN Charity Golf Day

We were extremely lucky to enjoy a one-off warm, sunny day to kick off this year’s Annual Conference with what is now our regular social day with a split of delegates enjoying a very social round of golf or cruising the Melbourne Yarra River and taking in the sights.

Whilst we had copped a very cold start to spring in Melbourne for some reason the weather managed to change – as only Melbourne weather can – and gave us a glorious 25-degree day for people to catch up with old friends and no doubt make a few new ones.

With thanks to the social day sponsors - Tradelink, AIM Hire, AEG Power Tools and Colorbond - we were able to showcase new products courtesy of a very good set up from the Albert Park Golf Course and Australian Cricket Legend, Merv Hughes, joined us in order to raise some money and awareness for the Men’s Shed Inc. Merv was very generous with his time and more than entertained the golfers with his anecdotal stories that also provide some insight and motivation from the Australian Test Cricket sides he played in during the early 1990’s.

We were also joined by Akoonah Park Men’s Shed President, Lyndsey Harding, who gratefully accepted the $700 we raised on the day and also took time to explain to us about how the Men’s Shed operates and how they not only are on hand for retired men but also have younger men in attendance as well as working in with women as well, so equality for all is certainly the key for longevity all round.

The Yarra Social Cruise

Our Chairman, Kevin Renwick along with able First Mate Kathleen Manning hosted another easy-going cruise on the picturesque Melbourne Yarra River.  For some this was the highlight of the whole conference with amazing sights that us Melbournians take for granted.  A great time was had by all.

Welcome BBQ

This year we allowed the Albert Park to take care of the BBQ proceedings and let the IBN staff catch up with Members they may not have seen through the year and it was a massive success.

Merv Hughes followed up with his fundraising efforts with a funny chat about his time with the Australian Cricket Team as well as humorous anecdotes from a less serious time.  I think we were all grateful social media wasn’t around in Merv’s day but it makes for reflection on the tide turning from when Australia went from challenging for the Ashes to becoming a fully professional side under the guidance of the great Alan Border.

Lyndsey Harding from the Men’s Shed Association also gave us an insight as to what the Men’s Shed is about and it’s not just retirees that benefit from the work they do.  His Shed at Akoona Park in Melbourne South East is part of the West Gippsland program and they have young Men involved as well as Women who help out from time to time.  They try to raise funds and awareness for men’s health issues such as prostate cancer that still, unfortunately, claims more lives than breast cancer yet receives only a minor percentage of government funding for research.

IBN has been raising funds for local Men’s Sheds associations throughout the country with our golf sponsorship programs as well as the ‘trade in for tradie’ program that we are rolling out with AEG Power Tools.


Brad Battin MP – Member for Gembrook

For something different this year we invited the Shadow Minister for Emergency Services, Brad Battin, come and open our Annual Conference on behalf of the Victorian Government.  What was pertinent about Brad’s portfolio for this occasion was that the day of our launch Brad was announcing that the Liberal Party had launched a new Portfolio that he was becoming Minister for the Building Industry!

Coincidentally Brad worked indirectly for Kevin back in the late 1990’s manning a display home and was trained by our very own Tim Renwick, as he was working for First National selling from new homes.  Brad left the industry to become a Victorian Police Officer assisting with wayward youths before embarking on a career in Government.  Brad spoke very highly about the importance of smaller builders in the industry and how strong the whole new homes program is in Victoria with the last 30-years growing Melbourne in line with the size of Sydney and soon to overtake due to the amount of people moving to the city.

Brad’s seat in the city’s South East in fact is home to the largest growth corridor in Australia for the last 15-years and he has witnessed first-hand how much construction goes on and with the amount of trades directly working on each job, how much employment goes in to building a new home and thus noting the building industry as the pulse of the national economy hence why the Liberal Party felt the need to set up this new portfolio.

Tim Renwick – Marketing Manager

To start of the conference it was important to review what we had promised and ultimately delivered since the previous conference at Pelican Waters but before we delved in to the past 12-months it was very important to acknowledge the dedicated hard work from our wonderful Head Office staff including the amazing Kathleen Manning and as they call themselves, “The Engine Room”, Jason Aiossa and Salim Filiz.

Jason has taken on the task of overseeing our social media, website and other programs run through our successful relationship with our digital partners, 285 Creative made up of the innovative team of Jesse Crawford, Chris Long and Brenton Tuohey.

At last year’s conference, those who attended the fantastic event learnt that our plans for 2017 looking forward included:

1. After a 5-year hiatus, we would slowly jump back into mainstream advertising including:

- 4-page advertisements featuring Members’ own jobs in the widely distributed Melbourne and Queensland Design + Living Magazines
- TV advertising rollout with regional promotion during the AFL Finals series including the Grand Final and Brownlow Medal count
- Radio jingles prepared on behalf of the Members
- A Media Buying arrangement through Media Sales Direct
- Newspaper copywriting on behalf of the Members
- Looking into assistance with colour selection centres with an arrangement with Design Concept Centre, Essendon as well as Members’ own shopfronts like RMH Homes in Ferntree Gully, Victoria

2. In addition to advertising new launches to look forward to this year and for the following year also included:

- New Plans and Facades with many already successful designs released this year as well as façade drafting in conjunction with James Hardie Scyon products to allow access to affordable and aesthetically pleasing designs
- Blogs to enhance the IBN story and featuring key words to positively enhance our SEO attractiveness on the web

3. Builder of the Month – which Members must strive to try and win as we now copywrite a wonderful advertisement on behalf of the Member and only winners qualify for the major National Builder of the Year Award.  Members need to be:

- Up to date with accounts
- Up to date with job reporting
- Branding compliant
- Have achieved something that is remarkable as a Member e.g. display opening, promotion success, network and assist other members
- Display Home and new design features and stories about our homes’ unique points of difference
- Event features such as Low Deposit information Evenings
- IBN Suppliers and why we use them

4. Social media with emphasis on:

- Facebook – particularly for First Home Buyers with little or no deposit
- Pinterest – for more experienced buyers, particularly those building their final “dream home” and want that perfect kitchen, lounge, outdoor area etc.
- Houzz – the new kid on the block gaining more interest with prospective buyers
- Instagram – widely read but more of a sugar hit so keeping a presence

5. A stronger relationship with low or no deposit finance alternatives including the Loan Market for Victoria, Zero Deposit in the appropriate areas and Aussie Home Loans in Queensland.

6. Keeping a strong presence at Home Shows and regional agricultural shows. 

7. Professional Development Days in 2017 covering:

- Finance training
- Sales training
- Understanding Volume Builder pricing and margin retrieve programs
- Clipspec margin retrieve for IBN Members
- Developing the IBN DNA
- Professional Social Media set up
- AGL margin retrieval program
- Publishing and scheduling social media easily

So what is the next year bringing for IBN and where can we concentrate our efforts on training and development?  We will work on three key initiatives in upcoming professional development days:

1. Sustainable Housing
A recent success story was RMH launching the first ever Melbourne Passiv Haus in the Bayside area which netted over 400 visitors on the one open day and solid enquiry as a result
Through external trainers like the Green Building Institute

2. NDIS Construction
Touched on later by our own Robert Hannaford, we will look at having Rob train members where they are interested 

3. Automated Homes
With the recent launch of Google Home and the soon to be released Apple HomePod we have a very good opportunity to jump the volume builders with standardising semi home automation so we have teamed with Schneider Electric and Smart Home to be able to teach our Members who to achieve this.

In conclusion to the Marketing Presentation is was pertinent to revisit the IBN DNA and that is what we call our ‘brand personality’ which successful brands concentrate on one position out of five in order to achieve their unique selling benefit of their product or service, but Tim argues why can’t we be all of these as we are selling the biggest purchase item any one person will make in their life so let’s embrace all of the brand personalities that are synonymous with prosperous businesses:

- Sincerity – we are down to earth, family businesses, sometimes multi-generational; honest Builders and when we display we show the “real” as opposed to the “ideal” that the volume builders show; we are friendly and we are a guide for our first home buyers or those nervous about building – you deal directly with the Builder!

- Excitement – through the partnership with IBN you have access to the latest trends in home designs and features and participating in a semi-national buying group you get the best from national building material suppliers

- Competence – the normal IBN Member does not employ a team of supervisors to manage their jobs and you will often find the “boss” working on site, supervising the trades themselves.  So the person who signs the contract has the buck stop with them. Quality control is therefore achieved

- Sophistication – we generally custom build our homes and the majority of IBN handed over homes have been designed around the client’s needs.  With access to the big brands and by keeping overheads low we can build bespoke and quality housing at an affordable price

- Ruggedness – our brand philosophy is the IBN Builder is involved with local sporting, community and/or church groups and contributes back to the local community.  Our quintessential builder will be seen on a Friday packing his Ford Ranger with fishing rods or bikes before taking his family out for a fun-filled weekend.  The Head Office relationship with the Men’s Shed and our pursuit of local sporting referral programs is this DNA in action.

Thomas Rose – Employsure

For the third year in a row, we invited Employsure to present such is the importance of what they do on behalf of subscribing Members and how critical The Fair Work Act is to our small to medium enterprises employing people.

As we witnessed in 2015 at the MCG, this year we had Thomas Rose come back to give us an update on the Awards relevant to tradespeople, Pay and Conditions issues, understanding employment variations, looking after contractors and apprentices and risks associated with all of this.

We very much support the work of Employsure and it’s great to know there is a service out there that looks after the Employer that we can count on to support our Members.  Many IBN Members subscribe to Employsure and we thoroughly recommend new Members to contact them on 1300 851 415 or at info@employsure.com.au to find out more.

Rob Hannaford – Building for the Future

As one of the key components for our 2018 training objectives, Rob Hannaford’s introduction to “Building for the Future – NDIS Liveable Housing” was very timely considering the opportunity for building to cater for independent living for parents with young families, injured people, aging “baby boomers” and people with disabilities enabling them with better choice of housing.

The IBN is in a very strong position to capitalise in these markets and as we are smaller and malleable builders broadly situated around Regional Victoria and Queensland then the opportunity presents itself if we prepare and understand what we need to do in order to qualify our construction accordingly.

Rob explained the three levels of performance required to qualify for ‘Livable Housing Design’

Silver Level
Seven core liveable housing design elements as thus
1.  A safe continuous and step free path of travel from the street to the dwelling entrance that is level
2. At least one level step-free entrance into the dwelling
3. Internal doors and corridors that facilitate comfortable and unimpeded movement between spaces
4.  A toilet on the ground (or entry) level that proves easy access
5. A bathroom that contains a hobless shower recess  
6.  Reinforced walls around the toilet, shower and bath to support the safe installation of grab rails at a later date
7.  Stairways are designed to reduce the likelihood of injury and also enable future adaptation

Platinum Level
On top of the above mentioned items some further enhanced requirements for the core liveable housing design elements plus all remaining elements.  These would be designed more for people with higher mobility needs and requires generous dimensions for most of the core liveable design elements

Gold Level
Again, this would include everything above but now moves into the kitchen and bedroom areas providing additional elements therein

Rob further explained to us that the relationship between the Livable Housing Design Guidelines and the National Construction Code (NCC), Building Code of Australia (BCA) Volume 1 and 2 is now covering certain items in order to work out such as:

- Fire safety
- Water proofing of wet areas
- Weather proofing external
- Termite protection
- Window location and size
- Floor surfaces in wet areas and on stairs
- Stairways

It is very important for IBN Members to follow up from the conference and attend the training provided by Rob over the next 12-months as we book it in as there is a huge market moving forward for this sort of expertise and some interesting statistics were thrown up by Rob for us to digest

- The number of ‘baby boomers’ is growing rapidly
- Also growing is the number of Australians living with disabilities
- 1 in 5 Australians have a disability of some type, almost 320,000 with children
- Research has shown a 60% chance that a house will be occupied by a person with a disability at some stage
- The family home accounts for 62% of all falls and slip-based injuries and costs the Australian public AU$1.8b in public health costs!
- The cost to the homeowner of including key livable housing design features in the case of the basic Silver Level is 22-times!

Other stats to consider are that over the next 10-years there will be additional people participating in SDA payments and for IBN specific areas these include

Queensland - Regional
- Townsville - 315 participants
- Mackay – 171 participants
- Rockhampton – 288 participants
- Toowoomba – 368 participants

Victoria – Metro
- Hume – 485 participants
- Brimbank Melton – 473 participants
- Western Melbourne – 524 participants
- North Eastern Melbourne – 651 participants
- Outer Eastern Melbourne 471 participants
- Southern Melbourne 655 participants
- Bayside Peninsula 787 participants

Adam Doville – Reality in Reality TV?

It was refreshing to see a Television Celebrity who is down to earth, candid and above all the sort of knock about bloke that is what you see is what you get and that is what we found out about reality Television show winner Adam Doville, who currently continues working as a speculative builder and showing his talents on Better Homes and Garden.

We were honest when we first booked Adam and told him we didn’t think that the reality television programs such as House Rules, which he won in 2014 with wife, Lisa, were very good for us builders as prospective clients and current clients had a huge expectation that was anything but real!  Adam agreed and he spoke very openly regarding what goes on behind the scenes as well as the biggest lesson he has learned from that show in working in with a team and getting an amazing outcome through the teamwork happening with others.  Adam indeed pointed out that from what he had learned about the Independent Builders Network was that we too were galvanised in a larger team, such as the network, and we also had the opportunity to get our own gains through that process.

Very interesting to note that we could not quite get rid of Adam after his presentation and he spent plenty of time getting around and talking with each of the Members and their Partners who wanted to catch up with him and then continued to harass our suppliers, each and every one of them, participating at the conference and seeing if he could get the ‘mates rates’ that IBN Members receive by flashing his well-known big smile!

Sandi Givens – How to Say No

After a bit of teaser earlier this year giving us a training session at the Melbourne Professional Development day, Sandi came back for the main course and showing us how to ‘say no’ in order to get ahead with life and business.

With plenty of prize sweets to keep everyone going after a wonderful lunch, Sandi gave us the training we needed in order to be fair on dealing with the misplaced needs that are put to us all from day to day and getting the best results out of yourself.

With a great session which opened our minds we were all looking forward to another session with Sandi on Day 3 in order to assist Family Businesses working together successfully.

Ben Kumar – Sleeping for Succezzzz

An interesting aside to running a small business and learning how to say ‘no’ from Sandi as well as learning how to manage staff professionally from the likes of Employsure it was time for us to start thinking about ourselves and the stresses involved with running your own business.

Jayden Bradley – Dreamspace to the Future

Young entrepreneur Jayden, has been to the well a few times as a business operator which belies his youthful appearance not knowing how tough he’s done it in the past.  With what you would call a very raw and colourful presentation, Dylan told us very candidly about how he had set up a Heating and Cooling air-conditioning repair business that was successful in principle but not thinking through things, was unable to follow through with contractual requirements down the track.

Jayden’s first business was Fusion Electronics and soon he found himself out of his depth as a 20-year old with doing work on a handshake and no structure of payment methods, a very pertinent message for Builders in the room no doubt.

Moving on to Jayrad Air as mentioned above he took on the sage words from Sir Richard Branson “You’ve got to take risk if you want to succeed.  I’d rather ask forgiveness than permission.”

Unfortunately for Jayden the reality of dealing with the ATO, suppliers, superannuation, paying wages and being totally accountable for the business was soon a resultant failure for Jayrad Air his second business.  Again, a lesson for us all was that having no structures, no systems, no HR, Management and Accounting was not sustainable and yet once more he had to get out of this business.

Moving from that servicing orientated business he moved in to a more service orientated type venture with Blackpearl Digital Media which provided digital marketing and social media management for small companies to help grow small trade base businesses and this seemed relevant to many in the room as his target audience was builders, electricians, plumbers and air-conditioning installers his customers.

Moving forward we now look at hopefully a successful business and through his relentless work ethic, getting educated either through professional ways or learning from his failures, outsourcing where he can and good marketing Jayden is now at 26 enjoying the rewards of international travel with his business ventures DreamSpace, a serviced share office and Union which is his ‘passion project,’ an international magazine showcasing wakeboarding, which also serves as an opportunity for Jayden network and reach to new markets.

In summary a lesson for us all at the IBN from Jayden is as follows:

- Network – ask around – you’re not the first to do this!
- Look to inspiration – whether it’s in business or media, doesn’t matter – take the motivation
- Data – know your numbers and make decisions on data not emotions

“You learn more in failure than you ever do in success.”  Jay Z

Adam Barron & Andrew Hart – Schneider Electric Clipsal & Smart House Electrical

To finish off our big day we invited our Clipsal Account Manager, Aaron Barron, to explain to us about the new Clipsal Iconic Platform that we will be looking to utilise in order to replace the antiquated C2000 series down the track.

Without going into too much detail here we will be rolling out training with Iconic and the opportunity for it to work with Clipsal NEO in order to semi-automate our standard home and over 2018 we will hold more training and standardising this through some of our larger home ranges.

Andrew showed us how this product works with having the new home compatible with products such as Google Home or Apple HomePod where we can semi-automate specific components in the home such as lights and the television.  In order to complete the proposed training next year if done properly, this sort of technology galvanises the Disability Housing, Energy Efficient Housing and Home Automation as presented by Tim earlier in the day.

Early in the new year all members will be provided with pricing for installed basic Google Home compatible Iconic switches to the Kitchen and Living areas so stay tuned.

Awards Night hosted by Des Dowling

After some years of laid back Awards Nights this year we decided to go back to formal settings as we were hosting at the exquisite Pullman Hotel and thanks to Julie St Clair from Style and Grace who organised some makeup and styling sessions, everyone looked absolutely stunning for the photo session held by our referred Real Estate Photographer, Rob Carew, representing BrassTacks Marketing who builders can use for quick house photos on a budget.

It was fair to say everyone was pleasantly surprised by our MC for the Day, Des Dowling, giving us a hilarious insight into his travel stories.  With the best feedback we’ve ever had on any conference it seems Des was a hit with his anecdotal recollections of things that seemed to hit home with our delegates.

It was fair to say the reception was also hot for our musical entertainment provided by Joshua Novak of popular Melbourne band, The Caravan Kids band who seemed to effortlessly play hits ongoing over a couple of sets that went down well with everyone enjoying quality music.

With some chemical support and inspiration from Josh a good bunch of revellers saw out the long day with a stint at the Elements Room for a bit of karaoke and it was great to see the girls from Mildura belting out some fantastic tunes to see out the night in style.


Family Business Forum

With everyone fairly tired from the long previous day it was fantastic to see a good turnout to hear Sandi Givens host a Family Business Forum where we invited several family business members from Queensland, Regional Victoria and Melbourne to participate.

Not easy being up on stage for anyone but our Members answered candid questions asked by Sandi in relation to their make-up of the businesses, family interaction, responsibilities and general work/life balance which we called ‘bulltish’ on the title and showing how we deal with it.

We were very grateful to the builders that presented and really gave us the true insight into their challenges and did not hold back.  This was the perfect end to a long three days and the “network” in our name was really on show here.

So back north next year where we will actually hold a conference for the first time in two separate states over two days where we socialise in Queensland but conference in New South Wales!  Can you guess the city where that would happen?  

Details later in the newsletter and thank you to all of you who made the effort to be there this year.