How can I find staff when people won't even turn up for interview?
Q: Have you any advice on where to find good front-of-house staff? I am absolutely struggling. In some recent experiences, I have found that people don't even turn up for interviews.
A: This phenomenon was one we encountered over 10 years ago. It goes hand-in-hand with a greater availability of jobs, a shortage of skilled staff and a willingness of employers to pay premium rates to get the right people. In the medium-term, this probably isn't a great recipe for success. There are some obvious implications on payroll cost and a potential for a fall in standards as businesses struggle to get the calibre of staff that they need.
A number of businesses have told me that they have had success with using staff as recruitment sources. Some businesses even pay a bonus to a staff member if a new recruit stays more than three months.
Others tell me that they are using their social media as a recruitment and awareness tool also, which is yielding positive results.
Q: I started my business three months ago and it is trading well, despite the fact that I am holding down a full-time job as well. I am looking for some advice on how many distributors I should have, whether I should make my product available as 'private label' for some of the retailers, and how quickly I should export.
A:Well done, but slow down for a moment. There seems to be a lot happening here and it feels a little bit like you are running before you can walk. That brings inherent risks with it. I have come across lots of examples of enthusiastic business entrepreneurs who have driven their businesses too fast and too far, only to find out they haven't got the resources to support the growth. The result in some cases has been disastrous, with the business ceasing to trade.
While I would applaud you for getting the business off the ground while you are still holding down a full-time job, that could become your Achilles' heel very quickly.
Now that you are trading, the marketplace will put demands on your time. Clients will want to see you. Queries will come in and there will be an expectation that you will be there to support the business. That is the first thing you need to address. Phase yourself out of your day job as quickly as it is safe to do so, so that you can focus 100pc on the new business.
While all of your suggestions above are good, and ones I would compliment you for thinking about, it feels like you don't have a predetermined strategy. It is a bit like fireworks going off in all different directions.
You need to sit down and write a robust strategy for the next three years in order to guide the business where you want to take it. By having this roadmap, it will help you to drive the business in a particular direction in line with the objective you have set out. Nothing in life goes exactly according to plan, but following a well thought-out direction is more likely to yield a result than ad-hoc actions.
Q: I run a tourist-focused business during the summer. To start it off I borrowed €30,000 of which there is €25,000 left. My sales for last year were modest and I did not make a profit or pay myself. I am thinking about borrowing another €10,000 to add a new attraction to drive sales?
A: Congratulations on starting your own business. Tourism-focused businesses can be a real challenge, especially if there are no easy ways to either extend the season or appeal to the domestic consumer as well.
While there is a temptation to make further investment to generate more sales, my initial reaction is that it would be unwise and would completely overstretch your loan repayments.
In effect you haven't proven yet if the initial concept worked or not and you could not justify investing any more money until you have solved this first.
My advice is that you put all of your energy into making 2019 season work. In this sector, you need a really strong marketing plan, and you need to link with those who are dealing with the same tourist customer already.
Local hotels and B&Bs could be a great source of referrals so it would be important that they had marketing material of yours.
Put all of your concentration into this challenge for now and you can make a more informed decision about further investment when you know more.
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