For this month's Small Business Spotlight, we met with Roll It Up Ice Cream owner Diego Bautista. Diego became the owner earlier this year, putting him right between the second and third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year has had its challenges but Diego is taking them in stride.
Q: How did you decide to take this project on?
A: I always dreamed of becoming a business owner. I looked into a lot of different businesses, everything from landscaping to medical offices, but after doing all my research, I decided this was the place for me. I see the joy that people have when they get ice cream and thought this would be rewarding. So far, it has been.
Q: How did you develop your drive for business ownership?
A: I did a lot of reading about finding the right path in life. In terms of people who are successful and satisfied with what they do, business owners seem to always rank pretty high on that list. I feel lucky to have this clear sense of what I want to do and what interests me so early in my career.
Q: How has the labor shortage affected your business?
A: Over the summer, we were extremely short-staffed. I had to be here seven days a week from open to close, so that was a little tough. I had to people we would have 30 minute waits, 45 minute waits, a long time for ice cream. Even finding supplies was hard. You can’t make ice cream without cream and even that was in short supply. There were times I had to crisscross the city to different stores find what we needed on any given day. Now we’re finally starting to get to a better spot.
Q: How have you adapted to the labor shortage?
A: When I took over in May, this was my first time managing a staff of this side. It took me a little time to develop my leadership skills to make sure I could motivate my employees in the right way. Obviously pay is important but keeping up morale with your workforce means treating them like people, not just employees. Using the right tone and language goes a very long way.
Q: Now that you’ve been in Doraville for six months, what have you found to be unique about our city?
A: Definitely the diversity. The businesses here all very diverse and so are our customers. We can see the sign right behind us that says “Asian Square.” I’ve gotten to meet a lot of the other business owners from around here and getting to know them has been a really cool experience so far.
Q: How would you like to see the city help small businesses?
A: Publicity like this certainly doesn’t hurt! I haven’t heard of any other cities doing anything like this before.