If you’re after a slice of Orange, no doubt Lisa Lovick can help you out. She’s set up shop showcasing Orange’s regional produce and serving a locally roasted coffee. Her regional provedore business, A Slice of Orange, was born of a need – and of management savvy.
“We noticed there was an increase in interest in the Orange region in terms of food and wine – especially in regards to food and wine tourism and there were all these amazing producers creating wonderful product but the only outlet they had was a farmers’ market once a month. There was the opportunity for an umbrella brand to look after the smaller brands and sell them every day of the week in the one shop.”
Managing the region
When Lovick and her sister approached the regional producers with their idea, it was well-received.
“They just couldn’t have been happier. They don’t have time to pursue retail themselves because they’re obviously busy on their farm producing the products.
“We were aware of the 100 Mile Diet concept, which originated in Canada, and felt that Orange had enough amazing food grown in the area to support a similar food philosophy,” says Lovick. “Orange just needed a centrally-located outlet for customers to buy it from.”
The 100 Mile Diet is a movement encouraging people to restrict their diet to what’s grown within 100 miles of where they live, thus promoting sustainable living practices.
And it’s a good philosophy on which to build a business offering – especially given all of Orange’s harvests are within 160km (which is 100 miles). Not only does the business support itself, but artisan growers keep money within the region and reduce the emissions normally associated with transport of produce.
The family recipe
Lovick’s advertising background coupled with her sister’s retail experience make them the perfect team. A Slice of Orange is not only a regional business – it’s a family one too.
“Mum – bless her – comes in every morning and afternoon and helps set up and close up the shop. My sister works in the shop almost everyday.”
They also have four part-time staff manning the shopfloor. Being a family affair, Lovick says, can be both a help and a hindrance when it comes to management of the business.
“The benefit is that you can be really honest. You both know you’re both working towards the same goals and that you’ve got the same priorities. You can just be really frank.”
And the result?
“You’ll often find us fighting behind the counter!” – she laughs, before correcting herself – “Not really.”
“At the end of the day, the most important thing is you’re both moving in the same direction. You can be really honest and bounce ideas off each other, you don’t have to keep anything secret and you can be quite open.”
From the region to the shop floor
This transparency runs through the ranks – “to a degree”, says Lovick.
“The business is small so staff see a lot and hear a lot, I’m sure. But business planning and all of that sort of stuff is certainly not done on the shop floor.”
Lovick says – no matter how she feels about her sister at the time – it’s crucial they present a united front. After all, they’re in business together, not against each other.
In a family business, it’s often difficult to get your staff to buy into your brand. But Lovett has found a way to their hearts – and predictably, it’s through their stomachs. Each week, staff are laden with free store product to sample firsthand. This way, says Lovick, they can better sell the wares.
“There is that sense of unity – they can comment on things from personal experience.”
Their management strategies also subscribe to their local mentality. Many of their staff are baristas, sourced through the local paper or their Facebook community – some are even sourced by the regional roaster himself! As many regional businesses struggle to find staff, the Lovicks were overwhelmed. Still, savvy management strategies, as business great Jim Rohn says, is all about getting the right people on the bus.
“It was a challenge,” says Lovick of wading through the applications. “Because we’re a higher-end retail outlet, ideally you want someone intelligent and who shows initiative. But usually, those sorts of people don’t want to work in retail.”
For A Slice of Orange, the growth strategy is simple – just grow!
“We’d just like to expand the shop so that we can include all of the alcohol from the region. Potentially have a bakery in there. Just slowly grow it, offer more products, offer more services as well – farm tours and things like that – and eventually open a shop in Sydney.”