Bega Valley Shire CouncilBega Valley Shire Council

Business Support Group helps cinema owner with mission impossible

Jesse Tankard of The Picture Show Man in Merimbula.

21 May 2021

Jesse Tankard (above) has taken over the reins from Dennis Parkes, founder and long-time owner of The Picture Show Man twin cinemas in Merimbula. If you were to link a movie title to what Jesse and his team have been through over the past two years, it would be Mission Impossible.

The cinema lost its peak summer trade during the Black Summer bushfires and then were forced to close when the pandemic hit. On top of this, the global movie distribution system virtually shut down due to COVID-19, leaving Jesse with no blockbuster movies to screen.

“It really was ‘mission impossible’ from a business point of view; we were in a situation where we had no customers and no product to sell,” Jesse said.

Business bushfire and COVID-19 grants helped Jesse keep the business operational and he applied for a $50,000 business loan as a buffer should the pandemic restrictions continue. Job Keeper also played an important role in keeping permanent staff on the books.

Through the Business Support Group (BSG), Jesse was introduced to Rhys Treloar from the REWiRE program, to help establish the business’s financial position, some important success measures, a breakeven analysis and a $5,000 REWiRE grant for him to spend on accounting software training and update his signage.

BSG member, Kaye Keogh from Australian Small Business Advisory Service is helping Jesse and his team audit their digital services so Jesse can action a targeted digital marketing campaign to boost ticket sales all year round.

Another BSG member, Dales Whyte from Business Connect is helping Jesse produce videos he can use for social media promotion, and BSG member, Steve Millott from Strengthening Business is helping the cinema by connecting digital expertise to build an online marketing strategy.

In the new ‘normal’ business environment, things are slowly getting back on track and the Dine & Discover NSW vouchers have been a blessing, bringing people back into the cinema.

“Although the distribution of blockbuster movies is slow, it has opened the way for a lot of independent movies, especially Australian ones,” Jesse said.

Like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible, Jesse has shown true determination and resilience to keep his business going and the support of the BSG has meant he is now in a strong position to thrive and grow.

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