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How to survive during COVID19, a recipe for restaurants

The pandemic is crashing the world's economy and its effect in developing countries will be much deadlier than developed countries for many reasons main reason being that in developing countries the economy is at its infant stage resulting into incapability to handle the consequences of a pandemic. Also not having a digitalized marketplace makes it impossible to sale to people online. Then when movement becomes limited to minimize the widespread of the virus most businesses cripple down.

This is not about just companies' survival: it is much bigger than that. It affects many people's job security and the countries stability at large. Ethiopia was not ready for this type of pandemic, especially the economy. The Ethiopian government is doing its best to create all the necessary regulations for a digital marketplace with ongoing eTransaction proclamation to come to force soon.

Still some businesses can wake up to the undeniable reality of the pandemic business affect and adapt to the situation especially restaurants. However this idea can apply to any retailer and wholesaler of any product. This article will focus on how restaurants can survive the pandemic and even come stronger because of it. 

As a staff of a delivery company we approach and get approached by many restaurants to provide alternative solution to their day to day declining sales. The problem is none of us was ready for this situation, so solutions doesn't come easily. Even worse the restaurants are not ready to fight for it with innovative ideas rather they're more of betting on delivery companies which will never be able to save them if they can't play the main role.

Come up with your own creative marketing strategy: no delivery company will bring you enough market but you can. There are less than 15 registered delivery companies mainly focusing on intra-city delivery only.  How big is their ccustomer base, almost zero compared to the amount of restaurants we have in Addis. Even if we say they have enough customers imagine all these restaurants listed on these few delivery platforms your restaurant will be just part of hundreds and wouldn't standout. You got to wake up to the reality that no delivery company will save you but yourself. If you can play the leading role delivery companies will be a big help by backing you up with their vehicles to reach out to anyone anywhere in Addis without any additional investment.

Opportunity in disguise, if marketed very well the scale is limitless, any restaurant's customer base is limited by its number of tables and branches if any. The pandemic creates the opportunity for restaurants to be able to reach a big scale of customer beyond the tables they currently have, which will probably continue after the pandemic as well. So, use this opportunity to boost online sales and come out even bigger by the pandemic.

The Adaptors like, Jupiter International Hotel and Lime Tree Restaurant are setting the best example for others who are willing to learn. Both has been promoting on their social media platforms with likes higher than three delivery companies combined.

What should Restaurants do? The following:

1. Be in charge of your own survival don't be at the mercy of delivery companies

Restaurants should lead the marketing role supported by delivery companies and their ad could be cost effective which can be done by themselves or hire a digital marketing company. Many people are staying home these days so digital marketing specifically Instagram and Facebook, preparing a rollup banner in their location to provide information for their daily visitors to order online next time. If you have targeted residence areas your delivery partner can go there and share the news. TV and Radio ads are bad for this, don't do it because you have money do digital ad because it is effective.

2. Lower your prices for online orders to motivate customers to order online

Many restaurants wants to lower delivery prices but not meal prices. Restaurants should focus on multiple sales at a lower price than few only paying higher.

3. Pick your delivery partner wisely and partner with one company only

One restaurant with a single digit daily delivery demands has partnered with three delivery companies, this creates inconsistency from the customer side as they see different people with a different uniform every day. Delivery companies will not give you a priority because you work with everyone but those with exclusive partnership gets priority. Consider delivery companies as your waiters who serves remote areas have your own standards on selection but never choose the cheapest, it might be tempting but if you choose the cheapest one you get also the worst service and the effect will be worst than paying a little extra ten or twenty birr. Also the customer is the one paying, it is good to be concerned but don't be a bad gatekeeper.

The don'ts:

Don’t buy motorcycles to offer free delivery

Some restaurants are buying motorcycle to offer free delivery. This is a shortsighted decision, how many meals do you plan to deliver per day? How many motorcycles do you need? What if accidents happen how much backup do you have? Will you handle the management of motorcycles and more headaches? You will not.


Final notes, you are already a winner restaurants, to start a business and being able to run it is a tough job. What you need right now is to wake up to the reality and adjust accordingly. Survive the pandemic as a business and retain your staff. It is better to do something than just sit around, after all the world is for the doers not sitters. If you are a restaurant owner you are already a doer.

As the saying goes: “Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” — Joshua J. Marine”

Ed.’s Note: Tigabu Haile is CEO at Eshi Express. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of The Reporter. He can be reached at @tigabu_haile, [email protected]

Contributed by Tigabu Haile