Mumbai, August 11: With almost five months out of business due to the coronavirus lockdown, one of the worst-hit sectors in India is the food and restaurant businesses. While many startups opted for innovative ideas, others failed to survive the lockdown. India's lockdown against COVID-19 is considered to be among the toughest, however, relief measures given by the central government did keep the hope alive.
Apart from unique challenges, the COVID-19 pandemic brought fresh opportunities for India in the hospitality and allied sectors. Many startups succumbed, but few thrive as they looked for a window to keep their businesses running. Use of social networking and personal relations still make those few reaping profits in adverse market conditions.
Here Are Some Ideas Which Helped Small Restaurant Businesses Survive:
1) Use of Social Media:
During the lockdown, the biggest challenge for a restaurant business is to connect with their customers. Social media became a boon for all those startups who remained in contact with their valued customers. Be it Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, Gmail or Instagram, these social media apps helped the small entrepreneurs to keep their businesses running.
Apart from providing the latest information regarding the renovations in restaurants to take away services, people came to know it from social media only -- if their favourite dining places are open or closed. Also, updating the precautionary measures taken by the firm to keep its customers safe, did make a lot of difference.
2) Adaptations and Collaborations:
Adaptation to norms and guidelines issued by the administration did play a great part for startups. For example, Chaayos -- which started in 2012 -- joined hands with another influencer marketing platform called Pulpkey. Apart from serving the 'signature "Meri Wali Chai", they also decided to create awareness among people. For this, they hired renowned content creators and influencers and started sharing quality content straight to the customers' mobiles via social media. Hence, Chaayos is still serving the 'chai drinking nation' with the same zeal and love.
3) Takeaway and Door-Step Delivery With COVID-19 Protection:
Foodies anywhere are foodies. Be it rain, dawn, dusk or midnight, foodies will order food online. However, the COVID-19 stopped the wheels of food-delivery guys for some time. Business took a hit and many wrapped up their shops.
With the Unlock guidelines issued, the wheels started to roll and food-delivery was again back on track. This time, the food delivery system was a little different. First, the delivery guys maintained a 6-feet distance and secondly hygiene maintenance was observed very strictly. The result was small entrepreneurs in the hotel business managed to survive. Special mentions to food warriors of Swiggy, Uber Eats and Zomato.
4) Marginal Charge for Hygiene:
This is something that customers in India don't like. Since lockdown is in place and sit-in dining is almost restricted in most places, charging extra for take-away to door-step deliveries -- by asking customers to pay for hygiene practices -- may take not be a welcome move.
However, making valuable customers understand the importance of hygiene practices and costs associated with it, the gesture might help. These days customers are well aware of the dangers of COVID-19 and are willing to pay extra to cleanliness and hygiene. So looking at the broader prospect, the idea of charging a marginal fee for cleanliness may help entrepreneurs to keep their business functioning.
5) Financial Management and Revenue Generation:
Among all the other factors, the utmost requirement is to keep the startup moving forward with proper financial management skills. Due to the COVID-19 revenues of almost all food-allied entrepreneurs declined, some even bailed-out too. But few are still sustaining and may sustain for long as they have ample revenues for it.
For those, whose revenues are crippling and businesses are on the verge of shutting down, one of the easiest ways is to reach out to banks -- which provides loans under MSME schemes at nominal interest rates and easy instalments. Reaching out for funds to family members and friends is another good idea.
6) Patience and Perseverance:
Difficulties and challenges are part of startups. COVID-19 may have seized the business ideas and expansion, but what's important is entrepreneurs shall not lose hope and patience. They should keep inventing innovating ideas and persevere to reach their goals. Things may take a little time, but with calculative risks and patience, the flower of success will bloom.