Table Talk is Mr Yum’s event series that brings the food and drink industry together for food, a drink or two and expert advice from a panel of industry thought leaders.
The topic from our Gold Coast event was Constraints and Creativity: thriving in uncertain times. Here are the key takeaways from the discussion.
Peta Fielding - Peta has cemented Burleigh Brewing as one of Australia’s most exciting independent breweries and shares her experience building a brand.
Gerard Coakley - Strategic Projects Manager at Kickon Group, Gerard outlines the strategies and skills operators need to navigate day-to-day challenges while remaining focused on the future.
Nick Stanley - With a background as a creative media strategist before co-founding Cuzzie Pies and now Costa Taco taquerias in Palm Beach and Byron Bay, Nick shares how to harness the power of storytelling in crafting brands that connect.
Taking a longer-term view to success
Gerard is someone who plans ahead. Which is pretty much a requirement for a strategic projects manager. Here’s how he suggests operators manage their strategies.
“I think using the data that's available to us – whether it's spend per head, year-on-year trends, local area events, anything that's going on in your area, in the business or in the world in general – to really define the success of your business is a paramount thing,” he says.
Of course, having the time to do this can be a struggle for business owners, so here are his two cents on how to navigate that.
“Having really strict governance and saying, look, this is what I do, on Tuesday, I will get my roster going, I will get my forecasting done and really sticking to that, sticking to that as best as possible.”
Follow your passion
Peta is one of the old-school craft brewers who was in the biz before its explosion in popularity. She shared her story about the early days, which provides great insight into following your passion regardless of trends.
“There's actually a market for craft beer now. And previously, the competition was about trying to get people to try something. Now, you know, there are a lot of people who never drink the same beer twice. So every time they go out, they want to try something new. Back then, it was kind of, ‘if I don't know it, I'm not going to try it,’” said Peta.
“We couldn't give free beer away, for God's sake. In Queensland! It was competitive back then, so it's definitely nice to have a vibrant industry and a market that we can actually play a part in.”
Attracting talent can be tough in the current climate. Nick shared his experience in making it appealing as possible, especially when opening a new venue.
“On a personal level, try to reach out to the staff and understand what they want individually. You know, some of them really want to do well and grow in the industry, and some want to go on holiday every month and that kind of thing. And so it's actually about catering to them on a personal level,” Nick said.
Nick and the Costa Taco team have also been very mindful of the Mexican community and how to support them, which gives them an edge when it comes to attracting talent who can connect to the brand’s heritage.
“We've been really mindful of creating a Mexican community. And that's kind of been the main thing that we've done to attract staff and to retain them.”
Keeping talent engaged through career paths
Gerard shared how Kickon Group helps their staff at all levels look at hospitality as a career and not just a temporary gig.
“We speak to our young staff when they join us and come on board and see if they want to have a career in hospitality and tell them the pathways. They can come in as a glassy and can work their way all the way up to a venue manager and possibly from there to a partner,” he said.
“They are not going to be here washing glasses, cleaning tables at three or four in the morning every Friday, Saturday night if they put in the time and the energy and the right attitude and the right get-go and you know the right values and behaviours.”
Connecting to your community
Peta spoke about how becoming ingrained in the local community can help promote your brand and build a loyal customer base.
“One of the core values that we're built on is local first. That relates to our choices in terms of supply chain and all kinds of things. But it also means we want it to be as strong as we can be close to home first before we try to go further,” she said.
“There was a vibrant craft beer industry in Melbourne, and we could have gone, let's just try flog some beer in Melbourne, you know, that'll be an easier step. But actually, we were like, no, we're here. The reason we're here, first and foremost is for the Gold Coast.”
Storytelling as a tool
Nick has a background in creative media strategy, so naturally, his understanding of storytelling as a brand tool shines. Here’s his advice for other brands looking to develop narratives.
“We really tried to make a point of thinking about the why and trying to think of the insights that were the back end of the business. You know, why are we doing this? What problems are we trying to solve? What opportunities are we trying to take advantage of?” he said.
“And I think everyone can appreciate why that's really important from a brand marketing and sales perspective. But what’s been really interesting is how important that brand identity and the storytelling has been for us internally and how important it has been for the staff to align with and our suppliers and our whole internal community. And I think that that's one of the reasons you need your community and your brand to be merging and to be one.”