The coronavirus diaries: Mike Benson

The level of government support stopped us from panicking and we took a week or so just to digest, think and catch up on sleep. Cash flow was gone and the bills were still coming. All our suppliers were understanding and were in the same boat. We had a good look at our bank account and started cleaning up unnecessary small direct debits and put services on hold like till software, music subscriptions, reservation systems etc. Not great deals of money but with cash flow gone it all adds up. 

It was clear that things were not going to be the same for a long time. The clearest way for us to keep the business going was home delivery which would keep our brand alive and our customers fed and updated. We already had Deliveroo but it wasn’t bringing in many orders and sharing plates weren’t as popular as curries, pizza etc. We joined Uber Eats to open up to a wider audience but the percentages they both take goes up to 30% as opposed to offering exclusivity at 25%.

We put together a small delivery menu which would ensure a fresh offering and no waste.  Also decided to start with delivery/collection on weekends and weren’t feeling too confident in people taking in food to their homes from a stranger. 

The next issue was our suppliers had stopped delivering so we had to collect our products from them in person. Whilst adding a few hours to our journey, it was great to visit them as we hadn’t been since before we opened when choosing who we were going to use. 

The first few weekends were slow but we have slowly built up a following and after a month it is beginning to move into positive territory. Probably a combination of people feeling more confident as the week goes by, fed up of cooking at home and people receiving their furlough pay. 

Also having the A-boards outside during the day has caught the eye of many locals who call and collect their orders. Many of these are just single orders from people who live alone locally, and who are just keen for a chat. 

Seeing how this is growing and how much the delivery companies take me have decided to develop our own delivery/collection app. This is much cheaper than you think and there are app developers out there that will do your app for free if you agree to give them a 5% cut of your delivery/collection revenue. Whilst you won’t have the reach of the big delivery companies this is perfect for locals and regulars. 

We have also made use of the time to redecorate at our leisure. Usually we try and squeeze these things into a few days. It’s great knowing you actually have months, as long as you start now. 

By Mike Benson, owner of Bobo Social and The Cutting Room 

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