People & Team
To retain skilled staff, we made the most of low season
Name: Baboo Gelato
Founded in: 2013
Tip: “Use quiet periods to work through every line of cost in your business without a tonne of distractions.”
As a seasonal business, gelato maker Baboo Gelato needed to make sure the business had enough staff for its busy summer period, but keep staff numbers minimal during the colder months.
Since the brand sells high-quality, artisanal gelato, starting from scratch with their team each summer wasn’t an option. The business had to train and retain skilled staff during the cold months when rent, electricity, vans, leases, packing and ingredients were draining cash reserves.
Baboo Gelato identified and trained a core manufacturing team who could work for the business all year round. In November to February, the quietest period, the team would work a three-day week.
An additional half day per week would be spent on personal development, doing training in flavour-balancing. During this time, staff could experiment. Customers would often suggest new flavours or combinations during the summer, so Baboo Gelato used the winter to test and perfect.
For the rest of the time, Baboo Gelato encouraged staff to take advantage of the seasonality. They could go on holiday or spend time with their families and reboot after the busy spell.
In the summer months, the business supplemented the manufacturing team with students. For founder Annie Hanbury, it felt like a natural fit, since their busy period of May to September usually coincided with university breaks. Despite the fact students only worked for a couple of months, Baboo Gelato was still keen to retain the talent.
“The key for us is to make the job fun and rewarding enough that the team will keep coming back each year. We really do want to rehire the same crew each summer, as we value their knowledge and skills,” said Annie.
Baboo Gelato’s determination to retain skilled staff has meant that the business has kept its core team and sees many of the same students return for the summer period each year. The business is growing quickly, doubling their capacity every nine months and selling its products in over a hundred restaurants and delicatessens.
“If your business is seasonal, embrace it, don’t fight it,” Annie said. “Organise for staff to spend time with their families, and go on holiday yourself. Take time to think about the strategy of the business.”