LEWISTON — Trying to hire in a tight market? Think flexible, think part-time and think retiree.

John Rice, director of operations at Schooner Estates Senior Living Community in Auburn. Kathryn Skelton/Sun Journal

John Rice offered that advice Thursday at the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce breakfast at the Ramada Inn.

Rice, director of operations at Schooner Estates, came with statistics on Maine’s aging population and workforce and reasons why businesses should adjust their thinking when it comes to new hires and serving increasingly older customers.

Schooner, he said, has six retirees who cover a combined 87.5 hours at the reception desk each week.

“They are gems,” Rice said. “It is one of the most difficult jobs in our organization to sit there at a desk and have 12 people come and they want 12 different things and the phone’s ringing.”

“Seasoned” employees are good at time management, dedicated and punctual, he said, and depending on how many hours they work, companies don’t have to pay benefits.

Rice said Schooner has also looked at other agencies for potential employees.

“It’s not for everybody,” he said. “We’ve used Work Opportunities, we’ve used Goodwill with mixed success, but we keep trying. Babe Ruth’s batting average, he struck out 60-something percent of the time, to put it in perspective. You’ve got to try these things.”

For businesses adjusting to an older clientele, he suggested assessing how easy the space is to get in and out of. What’s the lighting like? If you have a menu, is it readable? Lastly, offer deals.

“Everybody loves a deal,” he said.

Will everyone love a golf cannon?

Kevin Simoneau of The Fortin Group and the chamber’s Golf Committee chair, said the goal this year is to pass $750,000 raised by the annual Chip Morrison Scholarship Scramble.

Mary Anne Ponti, left, Tim Rucker, Kevin Simoneau and Cindy Russo at Thursday’s Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce breakfast. Rucker and Simoneau put on tutus after challenging someone in the audience to sponsor a team at the upcoming Chip Morrison Scholarship Scramble. Russo, from Central Maine Healthcare, quickly raised her hand. Photo courtesy Jenny Moulton

It’s being held for the 20th year on Aug. 21 at the Fox Ridge Golf Club in Auburn. The event is put on jointly by the chamber and Central Maine Community College.

It’s raised more than $713,000 to date, helping hundreds of local students go to college over the years, Simoneau said.

“We’re working really hard to make to make this tournament awesome,” he said. “A couple things we’re doing that are different. We have a golf ball cannon, so if you can’t hit a par-3 shot, we’ve got a cannon to help you out. I don’t know how it works, but I’m pretty excited to see it and I will be one that’s using it, I guarantee it.”

He challenged any business in the audience to sponsor a team for the tournament, on the spot, saying he and Tim Rucker of Uncle Andy’s Digest would don tutus if they did.

Central Maine Healthcare quickly sponsored a team. Tutus were donned.

Nice to meet you

Daniel Bourgeois-Capozzi, chair of Uplift LA, announced that Uplift is starting a new regular newcomers night from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 13 at The Pub at Baxter.

It’s free to attend and open to the public.

“The idea is to give a space for young professionals that are new to the area or new to Uplift and the chamber to come together and network with those of us who have been here a little bit,” said Bourgeois-Capozzi.

Door prizes are planned with announcements at 6:30 p.m. It’ll be held four times a year with the next one Nov. 12.