After establishing Staging Connections as a major national corporation and founding the hugely successful AVPartners in 2007, AV entrepreneur Gary Hackett explains his unique business model and why others in the industry should follow his lead. By Lauren Arena

Attracting and retaining quality people is one of the leading challenges facing the MICE industry today. Securing and retaining the right talent and reducing employee churn go to the heart of business profitability.

Launching AVPartners seven years ago, Mr Hackett adopted an innovative business model, designed specifically for the MICE industry that sees middle and upper management investing financially in the business and then sticking around to help it grow.

“Business owners need to focus on finding good people and keeping them,” Mr Hackett says.

“The failure to retain good people means they’ll leave and most likely become your competitor. This comes at a significant cost to the business in terms of revenues and corporate memory.

“Our model is structured to, not only allow, but encourage our management team – known as ‘partners’ – to purchase equity and invest in the future success of the business.”

The company currently has 13 partners across NSW, QLD and WA, all of whom have been employed for more than three years. Several of these partners are already planning for future contracts, with some set to make a nine year commitment to the company. This kind of longevity is extremely rare for the MICE industry.

“The model delivers low employee turnover, increases executive longevity, and ensures greater accountability and improved productivity.

“Our ability to retain partners in the same venue year on year is key to our success and is extremely rare in the audio-visual outsourcing business. Put simply, the model creates a domino effect of referrals for future staff and venues.”

In seven years, the company has gained eight major venue contracts and increased revenue to more than $15 million. Not content with resting on his laurels, Mr Hacket and his team of partners hope to double that figure in the next five years as well as expand into VIC, SA and ACT.

“By rewarding employees with the opportunity to become a stakeholder in the business, not only can businesses engender commitment but they can also expect a better financial return in the long run.

“Some people embrace change, while others resist it. It’s those most capable of adaptation that survive,” he says.