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Hollydene Estate's implementation of Deputy has boosted efficiency at iconic winery!

Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia
hospitality industryHospitality

At a glance

  • Business operations able to run as smoothly as their state-of-the-art winemaking process
  • Open Shift feature makes it easy to produce rosters weeks in advance
  • Approving timesheets and exporting them to payroll is now a breeze

The Story

Karen Williams’ passion for agriculture began early in life. In 2004 she took the first steps to realising her dream when she purchased a vineyard near Denman in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales.

Now, the owner and executive director of Hollydene Estate Wines, Williams spent the ensuing ten years gaining valuable hands-on experience and a raft of qualifications in viticulture and winemaking. She also expanded the business with the purchase of Hollydene and Wybong vineyards and has been making highly regarded wines, including Hunter Valley favourites along with Gewurztraminer, Tempranillo, and Sangiovese ever since.

When an opportunity arose to buy the Arrowfield Estate and vineyard from its Japanese owners in 2011, Williams jumped at the chance. The Hollydene team set about breathing new life into the iconic facility and establishing a one-of-a-kind destination in the Upper Hunter.

After extensive renovations, Williams re-opened the Estate’s tasting rooms, cellar door, and conference facilities under the Hollydene Estate banner in February 2014. At the same time, Hollydene launched a brand new dining experience in the Vines Restaurant.

"Karen Williams’ passion for agriculture began early in life. In 2004 she took the first steps to realising her dream when she purchased a vineyard near Denman in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales."

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The Challenge

To put this brand new operation on a strong footing, Williams insisted on best of breed technology and systems from the get-go. For Williams, it was important that the technology she chose to run her business would facilitate growth at Hollydene – not hinder it.

Committed to being an employer of choice, she also wanted to provide the team at Hollydene with a dynamic and rewarding workplace. She wanted Hollydene to be synonymous with outstanding levels of customer service and staff engagement.

“I knew that choosing the right technology would help me run the business really efficiently by cutting out inefficiencies and minimising costs through greater accuracy, but also by maximising productivity through high levels of staff engagement. I didn’t want to be saddled with outdated systems that wouldn’t scale with our growth.”

Taking advice from business consulting firm, SMB Consultants, Williams opted to run Hollydene’s accounting and finance systems in the cloud on Xero. To streamline people management and work scheduling and rostering, Jeffrey Atizado at SMB showed Williams best of breed cloud-based tools that integrate with Xero out of the box.

Emma Williams, Hollydene’s business and payroll manager, together with roster manager Trudy Merta signed up for a trial of Deputy to evaluate this automated time and attendance platform and see how it could benefit their hospitality business.

Having used manual systems and spreadsheets in previous roles, Merta was easily won over by Deputy’s automated simplicity and efficiency. For Williams, Deputy’s seamless integration with payroll was a real clincher. “Just one click of a button and all is exported to Xero. It’s so simple.”

"For Williams, it was important that the technology she chose to run her business would facilitate growth at Hollydene – not hinder it."

The Solution

Staffing a business that’s open seven days each week with variable operating hours depending on the specific part of the business can be a real challenge without robust business systems.

At the Cellar Door and on the Estate, Hollydene employs a number of workers that fall under the Wine Industry Award who perform roles as varied as wine tasting sales, to customer service, to cleaning and packing.

Likewise, in the restaurant, there are 12 employees who perform a range of different roles from Chef to table waiting, customer service, food preparation, and cleaning.

So for Hollydene, it’s critical to have the right person, with the right experience and qualifications scheduled at the right time. Without an automated system, the work scheduling process would be highly time-consuming and create a real drain on resources.

However, having Deputy, business operations at Hollydene run as smoothly as their state-of-the-art winemaking process.

“We can always see who’s on and who’s available or not to take a shift,” comments Merta. And we love the Open Shift feature that allows our staff members to claim available shifts that they are qualified to perform. This makes producing the weekly roster really easy and I can publish it a few weeks in advance. Through Deputy, everyone gets alerted to their shifts, which they can check on their smartphones. Everyone knows where they should be, when they should be there and what they should be doing.

“In previous roles, I would spend a huge amount of time planning the roster, calling staff and checking availability, particularly when someone was off sick or about to go on annual leave. But with Deputy at the heart of our business, we can see who’s on, or due on at any particular time. We can see what’s happening in the business on a minute-by-minute or hour-by-hour basis. Deputy gives our operations team a high degree of visibility and therefore control. And we can tap into it wherever we happen to be.

“Plus, approving timesheets and exporting them to payroll is a breeze,” adds Williams. “There’s minimal paperwork to reconcile, no paper timesheets to chase. Everything is in the system and it’s seamless. And our staff members know that once they’ve logged onto the system, the hours they work automatically populate their timesheets, which means they get paid the right amount, on time, every time.”

With Deputy to streamline rostering and time and attendance management, Williams and Merta are not bogged down in burdensome, but critical, day-to-day admin. Instead, they are free to spend more time on revenue creating tasks and strategic initiatives.

“At the Cellar Door and throughout the business, it’s important to get our marketing just right and get the best return on investment,” comments Williams. “Because I’m not tied up doing admin, I can dedicate time to crafting and executing marketing initiatives that generate real cut through for our business.”

Merta concurs, “In previous roles, managing the roster was akin to a full time job. Now I spend most of my time with customers at the Cellar Door, rather than being swamped with paperwork.”

Favourite feature

“We love the task/announcement tool,” says Williams. “This allows us to communicate with all our staff members and make sure everyone’s on the same page. Whether this is alerting everyone that a particular function is on, that a particular vintage is getting rave reviews, or that we are expecting a really busy day at the Cellar Door, everyone’s getting the same message. So everyone is informed and prepared even before they get to work.

“Of course, having everyone logging in and out of Deputy gives us a clear read of who’s on site at any given time and we have full visibility into anyone running late, so we can make any necessary adjustments to our staffing levels in other areas if required. Deputy keeps us fully informed.

"Everything is in Deputy and it’s seamless. Because I’m not tied up doing admin work, I can dedicate time to crafting and executing marketing initiatives that generate real cut through for our business."

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