16th November, 2015
The Victorian coast may be as far away from Ireland as you can get. But for the Blakes – Donna and her Irish husband Tom – the small town of Port Fairy feels like home.
The small community actually has plenty of ties to Ireland – many residents are descended from immigrants who travelled to Victoria in the 1840s.
The pair married in Warrnambool 12 years ago and, after working in restaurants around the world in the subsequent years, found themselves drawn back to idyllic Port Fairy. One afternoon Tom stopped in the main street and stared intently at a building. “That would make a hell of a restaurant,” he told himself. And so it did.
Blakes Restaurant has been a local success story, which they attribute in part to the huge amount of fresh produce from the area.
“There is absolutely nothing that can’t be grown around here,” says Tom. “We’re able to grow quite a bit of stuff ourselves during summer. We’re able to just walk out and pick it.”
Tom and Donna have humble goals. “We’re not out to make a million dollars,” he says. But starting a restaurant still takes a huge amount of effort.
While the pair had their expertise down pat when it came to cooking great food, managing cash flow has been a challenge. Port Fairy is a bustling tourist destination, but when the winter comes, business can be slow.
So they met with Brendan Drummond, a partner at SHB Business and Wealth Advisors. Having Brendan on board helped Tom and Donna understand what it would take to get them through the leaner months.
“They’re run off their feet through the school holiday periods, and over the summer the town population just explodes,” says Brendan. “But in the middle of winter it’s obviously not quite as busy.
“We’ve tried just to manage cash flow all the way through, manage staffing levels, manage tax payments to try to smooth out across the year. That’s just one way we’ve worked with the Blakes to really help that process.”
Most businesses have an accountant or a bookkeeper, but Brendan wanted to offer Tom and Donna something more – advice not just on how to run their books, but everything from strategy to providing them with ongoing updates on their finances.
A huge part of that benefit comes from Brendan’s ability to integrate technology into the business. Products like MYOB Essentials can give an updated, real-time view of cash flow, while a product like the MYOB Portal allows documents to be sent and signed electronically.
“With live data we can look at the end of a week’s takings, a month’s takings, even see the stock that has been purchased. We can split it down by the different suppliers so we know what’s fresh goods and what’s not perishable,” says Brendan.
For Tom, having more time to work on his business and less worry about the numbers means he can focus on what really matters.
“We absolutely adore what we do here. We get a lot of fun out of it and get a lot of pleasure out of it. Just the customers coming and going, and always popping their head in to let you know how you’re going is great. There’s a lot of feedback on what you’ve done well or how you could make the experience a little bit better.
“Having MYOB to cover our backs makes a huge difference to our peace of mind.”
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