A few weeks ago we started LocalSmallBusinesses.co.uk, a platform to generate cash flow for independent London businesses by offering services for future use. Allowing loyal customers to support their favourite places so that when this nightmare is over London remains the exciting and diverse city we all love. Many small business owners will relate to our experience in these challenging times and why we decided to start this initiative.
It had been our life goal and dream to open a restaurant and we knew that there wasn’t a better place to start this adventure than London. This city is full of flavours and opportunities, customers are not afraid to try the new and different things, and restaurants from all over the world are not afraid to mix tradition and innovation.
We opened Crudo Cevicheria last September in Fitzrovia, a South American food concept where Londoners can build their own ceviche bowl. Ceviche is traditionally a Peruvian dish that consists of raw fish marinated in citrus juices. At Crudo, you can customise your ceviche by choosing from different proteins, marinades, and colourful, healthy and tasty ingredients.
For us it has been an overwhelming success, quickly acquiring a base of loyal customers that visit us every week, increasing our sales every week and receiving continuous positive feedback from customers and social media. We had optimistic growth plans including opening a second location later this year. But then coronavirus happened. Within a week our sales dropped to a tenth of the trend we had seen in previous weeks. Our customers are predominantly from nearby offices that for all the right reasons started working from home.
For a young business like ours, each day of sales is crucial to maintain operations. We had to do something quickly to generate more cash flow and ensure we could continue supporting our staff and suppliers whilst considering our fixed costs. We weren’t getting many walk-in customers but we knew we had that loyal-Crudo-loving customer base we could rely on and we thought it would be a good idea to offer vouchers for future use, when all of this nightmare is over.
That same night walking around the neighbourhood we were heartbroken to see all of our nearby businesses closed, shutters down, with emotive messages at their door explaining the difficult decision they had to make given the current circumstances. We were all on the same boat, and that is how we came up with Local Small Businesses.
The concept is simple, a website where businesses can post vouchers, products or services. Within the first week we already had four new businesses interested, varying from a brewery to a fine dining concept. Customers’ and the media’s response has also been extremely positive. We were so pleased and humbled to see how everyone started supporting each other to overcome these difficult times. LocalSmallBusinesses.co.uk is only one of the initiatives out there to support businesses and we encourage everyone that can to contribute.
We continue working on LocalSmallBusinesses.co.uk, raising awareness through social media and developing the platform. Every small business is welcome to join and we are recruiting for more so if you are interested please get in touch. Hopefully this will be over soon but in the meantime, stay healthy, safe and support your favourite London businesses.
By Carlos Socorro, founder of Crudo, London’s first fast-casual cevicheria