Anyone who’s worked in the retail or hospitality industries knows the frustration of being on shift while understaffed. It’s just like being overwhelmed in any tech business, with the only major difference being that customers are there in-person demanding attention.
Covering shifts in these industries typically involves a long-winded traditional approach of calling employees directly, and while there are a handful of solutions in the market automating the process through text messages and private communication apps, none can actually guarantee that someone will be able to fill the gap.
Facing this issue was Adam Sarris, who evaluated that he would have a “daily battle” to fill roster gaps if he went ahead with his plan to launch an espresso bar in the heart of Perth.
“This wasn’t appealing to me, so I started thinking of how to solve this problem that is so common right across the hospitality industry,” he said.
Sarris soon launched Squaddle, an app which connects hospitality contractors to businesses that need to fill gaps in their roster on-demand.
Requiring no paperwork or payroll system, the platform is also tailored to help hospitality venues build up their staff numbers for large events, important dates such as Fathers and Mothers day, and functions.
The startup wants to offer hospitality workers a simple avenue to pick up extra hours outside of their set part or full time roster. Workers are able to pick and choose which contract jobs suits them, as well as set their own hourly rates, which the employer has the ability to accept or reject.
“The hospitality industry is highly dependent on casual labour and as such managing staffing levels is a huge daily challenge,” said Sarris.
“Having the right people on board is crucial to maintaining service and quality standards and ensuring repeat patronage. Squaddle…allows businesses to scale up and down as needed.”
Currently live in Western Australia, NSW and Queensland, the app has over 5000 contractors registered, with development for the app and web platform supported by $200,000 in seed funding.
Workers are able to set up their profile by providing an ABN, profile image, qualifications, experience and skills, specifying what type of hospitality roles they’re looking for and the times and days they’re available, before receiving alerts on their phone when a job is posted.
“Many ‘Squaddlers’ fit their gigs around other work, studies or travels but there are also those that have expressed a desire to use Squaddle as a means of deriving the majority or even all of their income,” said Sarris.
Once a quote has been accepted and a contract job completed, workers are paid within 48 hours, with the hirer able to submit a review on the contractor’s page, and vice versa to ensure quality control.
“The whole process of posting and awarding a gig can be completed in minutes and in many cases a contractor can be engaged and working at very short notice even within an hour or two,” added Sarris.
Contractors are charged a 20 percent service fee on their total earning for a gig, while the startup reimburses businesses if a worker is entitled to superannuation.
Elsewhere in the on-demand job hire space are startups Weploy and OneShift, which helps businesses from a range of industries pick up high-quality staff in a short span of time, whether the position is contractual or part and full time.
Weploy sports an 18 percent flat rate on a worker’s total earnings and covers the business for payroll, super and work cover where necessary, while OneShift charges the business a $70 rate to post jobs on the platform.
Meanwhile, looking to offer job marketplaces to niche industries, Sydney-startup Air Events Global offers an online platform connecting event professionals to freelance jobs.
Focusing on the fast-paced hospitality industry will allow Squaddle’s to tackle the previously untapped market of hospitality workers and businesses, according to the startup. The platform is free for businesses to use, with over 175 various hospitality venues and companies currently using the platform.
With plans to expand the app across Australia, Sarris said the startup will be looking to develop a “pipeline” of new features and services for the platform, to help add value to the hospitality-exclusive users.
Image: Squaddle cofounders James Hill and Adam Sarris. Source: Supplied.