At a recently very well-attended Business After 5 to celebrate the new ASB building on Rathbone St I was reminded of the importance of reputation and brand to all organisations and particularly those who aspire to provide a high-quality customer experience.
The buildings in which those organisations are located also impact on the perception of the organisations brand and reputation. So, whether people like it or not, the physical location that an organisation occupies is often reflective of that organisation's brand, and while cost always needs to be considered so does the organisation's reputation.
Which got me thinking about the current buildings occupied by the Whangarei District Council, the image they portray and how fit for purpose they actually are. I am not sure how many people visit the existing council buildings in Whangarei in the course of their everyday activities and I imagine as part of trying to be customer-focused the number may not be that great or possibly even decreasing as the organisation continues to explore how to make transacting with them easier.
This does not diminish however that after libraries, museums, town halls and the like, the building which houses local government serves as much more than just a place of business. It is an important civic space and should be seen so as part of our urban fabric.
If we want our local government to deliver efficient services and a high-quality customer experience then they must have the tools and resources to enable this to happen. This is not about creating a temple of mammon or massaging someone's ego but rather critically considering where and in what type of building the council should situated, how this will make them deliver better service to their communities and what secondary wider benefits could be exploited through any change.
The value of these secondary benefits should not be underestimated. For example, where the premises are located can not only inject a large number of people into that area through the organisation's workforce, it can also act as a magnate for other people who use that organisation's services to come in, transact with that organisation and then engage with other businesses in the vicinity.
In the case of the council, it may be one of the few ways it can truly lead reinvigorating the CBD through its own actions and the demonstration of its belief that the CBD is still Whangarei's most important public realm.
■ Tony Collins is the Northland Chamber of Commerce's chief executive.