Groundswell of support for small business

5th May 2020 | Eativity editors

As non-essential businesses have been ordered to close their doors during the COVID-19 crisis, restaurants and cafes are struggling to stay afloat.

Figures from the Restaurant and Catering Association suggest that bookings and foot traffic are now down by 80 to 100%, with many business owners having to stand down staff. In an attempt to keep their business open, most are now offering takeaway and delivery options, however many are unsure how to attract customers or adapt their business model.

A crisis can bring the best out in people, and many organisations large and small have stepped up to the plate to help local hospitality businesses survive the shutdown.

MessageMedia’s SMS service.

MessageMedia has been working with restaurants and cafes across the country to redirect their dine-in services to new takeaway and delivery options via SMS. The company is offering restaurants and cafes free use of MessageMedia SMS “text-in” services, so customers can text their pick-up or delivery orders directly, without having to pay a third party. The package includes free messaging credits, a dedicated phone number to promote to customers and assistance with getting the service up and running.

“As this crisis worsens and businesses across the globe face temporary closure, we want to do our part to help our customers and others in the hospitality industry who are doing it so tough right now,” says CEO of MessageMedia, Paul Perrett. “So many restaurants and cafes are scrambling to shift from a dine-in to a take-away business model and we know that the quicker that happens the more people’s jobs and livelihoods can be saved.”

Online food delivery juggernaut Uber Eats has announced it will make up to $5 million in funding available to independent restaurants across Australia and New Zealand. In a prepared statement, Uber Eats Regional General Manager for APAC Jodie Auster stated that this funding “will allow restaurants to deploy promotions to attract customers and will help restaurants time promotions to suit their individual business needs.” Restaurants will also pay no service fees on pick-up orders up until June 30, and Uber Eats will also offer businesses the option to receive daily payments rather than weekly as well as waiving activation fees for any new restaurants wanting to join the food delivery platform. 

Uber Eats is helping restaurants promote their business.

A growing number of online communities are also cropping up as people across the country try to support the industry by promoting services in local areas. In Canberra, a team of website builders have developed – an up-to-date online list of local Canberra hospitality businesses who have had to adapt to the new social distancing requirements. In Tasmania, a marketing professional has launched – a website that encourages Tassie customers to order directly from local restaurants and cafes so that struggling hospitality businesses don’t have to wear the cost of paying commission to third-party apps for delivery services.

In NSW, a Facebook page has been set up to help promote local Port Macquarie eateries, while urban culture website The Urban List is just one of the many websites providing an online list of Sydney businesses offering delivery and takeaway. In Queensland, Brisbane food and lifestyle website The Weekend Edition is sharing a regularly updated list of local restaurants who are offering takeaway and delivery services, while over in Adelaide, the #okSA campaign is promoting businesses that are remaining open via a free listing service.

Restaurants are making the switch to home delivery.

“Paying it forward” is another way that people can support their favourite local business. Group gifting platform Group Together has launched KeepYourCafe, which offers customers the option to purchase food and drink items from cafes and restaurants now that can be redeemed when the business reopens. The initiative is designed to generate cashflow for eateries that are sitting empty as more and more people stay at home and eat in.

We’re living in unusual times right now, but by supporting your favourite local businesses while their normal operations are suspended, you’ll be able to enjoy their services all the more when doors once again swing open for eager diners to come together and enjoy the best that Australian food has to offer.