Q. I am looking at opening a cafe and am wondering what advice you could provide when it comes to employing staff on either permanent-part time salary or casual employment only? Is it absolutely necessary to pay people a salary when they are not interested in seeking a long-term position with in the cafe?
A. Probably the first thing to consider when planning your new cafe business is that it is all about people. The way you interact with your staff and customers will be crucial to your success. If you treat your staff in a fair and friendly way and provide a role model for them, they will tend to respond in a positive way towards you and try to live up to your expectations for them. This attitude will also come out in the way they interact with your customers. In other words this will set the atmosphere and tone of your café that will build loyal customers who will return regularly and will also tell their friends and colleagues about you. They will also be unlikely to quibble over your prices.
If on the other hand you set a negative tone, are unfriendly and off-handed to your staff and try to cut their pay to the minimum possible, you will create a tainted atmosphere in your café that your customers will also pick up on and they will be inclined to take their business elsewhere. The disgruntled staff will take every opportunity to get one back on you and will only stay with you until they can find a better position. This will mean you will be expending considerable and ongoing effort to attract new staff. As your customer numbers sag you will be tempted to lower prices and spend more on advertising to bring more customers in.
Probably the best source of information about the types of staff to employ can be found on the Fairwork website – www.fairwork.gov.au. Part-time staff are equivalent to full-time ones except that they work fewer hours and their pay and benefits are scaled back accordingly. Casual staff are paid according to the numbers of hours they work. They are paid at a higher hourly rate to reflect the benefits they are missing out on by not being part-time.
A key factor you need to consider is that if you want to attract quality staff to your business you will have to be prepared to remunerate them accordingly as well as offering them the other non-financial benefits they expect. Offering low pay and inflexible working conditions is a recipe for attracting people to your business that could spell trouble. A recent study of the fast food industry found that one of the key factors for success in the industry was being able to access multiskilled and flexible staff.
Effectively managing staff is a key success factor for all businesses and in my experience is an area that most small businesses struggle with. I wish you success in setting up your café.
Business mentor, SBMS