The right fit for a family-run café: Lorelle’s story

6 May 2016

When you run a small family business like Lorelle Surace does, finding the right staff is not only important, it’s essential.  Lorelle is the owner and manager of Indulge on Harding, a small family-owned café in the beautiful seaside town of Portarlington in Victoria.

Lorelle took on the business to better integrate herself into the small community and continue to work while her children were growing up.

Lorelle explains that finding reliable and trustworthy staff is one of the many challenges working in a small business. It can be especially challenging for businesses operating in a coastal town heavily reliant on holiday periods to find staff who are able to work weekends and seasonal hours.

“In my experience, finding and keeping staff is a real challenge for us. We live in a small town, so there is only a small pool of employees to choose from,” Lorelle says.

“We want employees who are reliable and most importantly available to work weekends and who will stay with us when it’s not a peak time. Because the hours vary depending on the holidays and seasons, it’s hard to find someone who will continue to work in a small business during the quieter times.”

“We want employees who are reliable and most importantly available to work weekends and who will stay with us when it’s not a peak time.”

Over eighteen months ago Lorelle was lucky to employ Estela with the help of the Australian Government’s Restart program. Estela was returning to the workforce after a number of years raising a family and had the flexibility, right attitude and availability the business was looking for.

In addition to hiring a great employee who was adding value to the family owned café, Lorelle’s business was eligible for a wage subsidy through the Restart program because Estela was a job seeker aged over 50.  

The financial wage subsidy really helped the café in quieter times, and there was enough hours to keep Estela happily employed. 

Indulge on Harding in Portarlington

 

As it turns out, the wage subsidy was not the only bonus to this small business, Estela proved to be an excellent employee and has now been a valued part of the team at Indulge on Harding.

“In a family run café, it’s important to jump-in where needed and we’ve been so lucky to find Estela. She has established herself as the best dishwasher and kitchen hand I have ever worked with. She is comfortable in her role and is invaluable to our business,” Lorelle says.

“Finding the right employee is just the start of the story. Finding an employee that will grow and change with the needs of the business is also a major part of running a successful small business.”

Finding the right employee is just the start of the story. Finding an employee that will grow and change with the needs of the business is also a major part of running a successful small business.”

Lorelle has identified the top three things which Estela, as a mature aged worker, brought to the business:

Estela is loyal, reliable and trustworthy.

“She learnt quickly, she wasn’t stuck in her ways and after more than eighteen months she’s become part of the family,” confirms Lorelle.

“[Estela] learnt quickly, she wasn’t stuck in her ways and after more than eighteen months she’s become part of the family.”

Lorelle’s working hours have changed now her children are at school. The business will close for a few weeks while the family take a holiday, and Estela wants more flexible hours so she can help to organise her own daughter’s wedding. This means Estela now works on a casual roster, reflecting the changing environment in which the business is operating.

Lorelle said the Restart wage subsidy through provider APM helped her small business, and she would strongly encourage other businesses to consider the value of taking on a mature age worker.

If you’re a business looking to fill a vacancy, regardless of what industry you operate in, talk to a jobactive provider about mature age workers.  

Not only will you find a flexible and loyal employee like Estela, but your business may benefit from a wage subsidy of up to $10,000 when you hire and retain an unemployed person over 50 who has been on benefits. Time limits do apply, so make sure you contact a jobactive provider within 28 days of hiring a mature age worker.