Employer of Choice – Cafe Cha Cha

Nambucca Valley Youth Event Special Edition

Tell me a little bit about who you are and what kind of business Cafe Cha Cha is?
My name is Karen Bodycote, I’ve owned Cafe Cha Cha for 8 years, and I employ a total of 8 people, of which 5 are under 25.

What kind of roles are there in your business for young people?
Everyone is trained how to do everything – we are a complete team. So, when a person leaves here, they can work in any café or restaurant, they can handle anything. We employ everyone as an all-rounder, and we train them in the till, cooking, barista, customer service, cleaning – all the jobs that need to be done. We start from the basics – how to greet, how to smile, how to answer a phone, counting back the change. Good training is imperative – we assume they know nothing and work from there. I teach them in a positive way – we’re known as the friendly café for good reason!

What are some the good things about employing young people?
I have four children and Macksville Foodworks employed each and every one of them – they gave them a start, taught them how to work, how to be independent, how to manage their money, how to interact with the public. Employing young people in my business is my way of paying it forward. Plus,  I love young people, they’re fun, they keep you in the loop of what’s happening in the world, technology and social media. They have so much to offer, full of enthusiasm.

What are some of the challenges?
I’ve noticed changes even in the last eight years, and much more so after COVID. We take care of them by being as flexible and accommodating as possible.

What have you learned about employing young people?
Just be really patient. I love watching them develop! It’s made me realise how vulnerable young people are. So young and innocent. I just want to look after them, they’re like my children. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for them. Young people are like sponges – and they have great memories for regular customer orders!

What is some advice you could give another employer who would like to employ young people in their business?
Give them a go. Take the time to train them really well. I tell them I don’t care how many questions you ask me – they can only be as good as I have trained them to be.

Do you participate in Work Experience or work placement?  We participate in four work experience rounds throughout the year – TAFE NSW, all the high schools. We get them to do everything – one of the girls we had in last week made muffins, lasagna and white sauce from scratch. Another one we taught how to make coffee went back to her home economics class and taught everyone how to make coffee! They’ve got to learn somewhere, it might as well be us!

For more information on support for business, visit our Business Support Hub.

If you know a young person who is having a hard time, you can refer them to:

Kids Support Line: 1800 55 1800
Lifeline: 131114

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