The toughest thing we’ve had to do – losing our team

Losing revenue was tough, closing our doors was tough, but having to let get go of the staff was truly the hardest and most heart breaking thing this business has ever had to do.

As we started shutting down our stores, the next realisation is that there is very little work for our staff to do. It sounds so obvious, but it’s not a realisation you want to accept. Our head office staff work closely with our in-store staff, and were scrambling to try create work, or create new streams of revenue to keep our store staff in jobs.

We simply did not want to “just let our team go” like every other company was doing. These are the people who have given blood, sweat and tears for our brand. It sounds so cliché, but our staff are truly a big family. Despite not wanting to accept our fate, as a small business with little “spare cash reserves”, and now close to no sales, we did not have a choice but to stand down the large majority of our team. Even if our take-away and home delivery were a success, there would be nowhere near enough sales for the foreseeable future to be able to afford retaining our whole workforce.

For the remaining team members, everyone’s wages were cut, and working days also cut. This was by far the lowest we as a business had ever felt. However instead of playing the “poor me” card, some staff went even further and volunteered taking further pay cuts, unpaid leave and giving their shifts to other staff they knew needed the income more. In a time where some of the public were acting so selfish in fighting over bloody toilet paper, it was truly humbling to see acts of such selflessness from our staff. The business will forever be indebted to our loyal crew.

We employ based on attitude, not skillset; that drives our culture. We would rather brag about how low our staff turnover rate is, compared to breaking a sales record. Our proudest achievement in the business to date is that we have close to zero staff turnover. We have a relatively young team in our stores and in our head-office, and together they have achieved incredible results over the last 2 years.

When a staff member starts their employment with us, we make them a promise that we will provide a place for them to work, learn and flourish. By now letting go of many of our staff, we did not fulfil our end of the bargain; we have let them down. Most will argue “we had no other choice” – that may be the case, but that’s just not the way we see it, and does not make it any easier to accept.

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