While navigating the uncertainty of COVID was a challenge for many small businesses, for popular Geraldton restaurant Skeetas, the pandemic proved a boon for trade.

Western Australia’s hard border is likely to have played a role in the regional business’s uplift. Tourism Western Australia’s most recent Intrastate Market Profile showed that overnight tourism expenditure within WA grew by 82 per cent in 2020-21, compared to the previous year, and eating out was the most popular activity for tourists, with 57 per cent of visitors taking part in this activity.

As a Quality Tourism Accredited Business enjoying panoramic views in the new marina district of Geraldton, and located a half day drive from Perth, Skeetas is primed for serving the short-stay tourism market. However, they are also a well-known and loved family business that has been serving Geraldton locals for 30 years.

“Since COVID, we have been much busier. Our sales have increased 30 per cent in the last two years, but it’s always a work in progress,” manager Haley Morris said.

“Our point of difference is we’re open all day, every day.”

“It’s become what we’re known for. People don’t have to think about when we’re open, they know we will be. Nowadays, especially with COVID, a lot of places have been closed some Sundays and open the next, so you never really know. Our customers always know we’re here.”

Haley said despite Skeetas remaining strong, after first encountering her Business Local advisory service RSM Business Local at local events, she had called on them for guidance about how to grow the second generation hospitality business further.

An initiative of the SBDC, Business Local is a network of skilled business advisers throughout regional WA that offers valuable advice to small business operators at no cost. RSM Business Local in Geraldton provides the service in the Coral Coast and across the Mid West.

Business Local advisers are available for one-on-one appointments for individualised and confidential small business advice. They also offer group workshops on a range of subjects, including business planning, financial management, taxation, leasing requirements, marketing, social media and business expansion.

Always new things to learn

Despite her parents having started the business in 1991, and Haley having a 20-year track record of managing the restaurant, there are always new things to learn about running a business.

“If I have any sort of business question, I always ring David Boyes at Business Local. He’s very helpful. There’s nothing I’ve come across yet that he hasn’t had knowledge in,” Haley said.

“Business Local has helped us with so many things – writing award submissions, looking at forecasts and previous figures, tracking sales, KPIs on upper management and developing a training plan and induction and training forms so we can upskill all of our staff.”

A key area that Haley sought support for was to help ensure there were appropriate processes and procedures in place for training Skeeta’s staff.

“The team at Business Local helped us create a training matrix for our staff, to ensure that everyone was trained the same,” said Haley.

“This ensures that we are serving the customers up to our standard.”

Haley, who will take over ownership of the long-standing business from her parents Vicki and Colin Cox in July 2022, said the restaurant had become an institution in Geraldton and now employed a dynamic team of 50 staff. Its current setting within Geralton’s Marina Precinct is the restaurant’s third location in the coastal city.

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Small business stories
19 April 2022