How Vendors are Helping Restaurants Survive COVID-19

Amid all the negative news about the COVID-19 pandemic, there is plenty of good news in the restaurant industry to share—from customers forming collectives to help save their favorite spots to businesses partnering together to feed families who can’t afford food.

Merchants, technology companies, and restaurant service providers are all banding together to help small businesses through these tough times as well.

Below are just some of the ways businesses are helping restaurants stay alive, and how you can support their efforts.

Waived third-party delivery service integration fees

One unnoticed aspect of third-party delivery services is that they typically contain lengthy and often costly integration processes. Oftentimes, using a third-party delivery service like GrubHub or Postmates often requires businesses to enlist the help of integration service providers like Chowly.

But, while many restaurants are suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic, Chowly decided to waive its integration fees to help businesses stay afloat. According to a press release on the company’s website, Chowly is offering businesses integration with third-party delivery platforms, such as Grubhub, UberEats, DoorDash, and Postmates, in as few as two business days. This offering also includes no fees for a 60-day, no-risk trial period.

“We want to help lessen the burden restaurants across the country are facing,” Sterling Douglass, co-founder and CEO at Chowly said in the press release. “Now more than ever, off-premise methods are critical for restaurants’ revenue streams. By helping restaurants add these alternatives to dine-in without any upfront costs, we are enabling them to continue to serve customers during these uncertain times and beyond.”

Small businesses who currently don’t utilize third-party delivery services can follow this link to utilize Chowly’s integration services.

Foregoing Commissions

Integration services are not the only restaurant technology companies waiving their monthly fees to help struggling businesses. Many online delivery services like GrubHub and Uber Eats are foregoing their monthly commissions to help boost revenues for local businesses. So far, GrubHub and Uber Eats have waived over $100 million in fees.

While this may not sound like a big contribution to the restaurant industry, it’s important to remember that commissions and delivery fees are the main source of revenue for these companies. An article by TechCrunch found that Uber Eats, Postmates, and Doordash each markup meal costs by as much as 40 percent after a customer orders their food. In short, foregoing this revenue stream is a big investment in the industry for these companies.

Other companies like Yelp have stepped in to help expand delivery services for many restaurants by offering businesses free Yelp page upgrades to promote delivery and curbside ordering. Yelp also partnered with GoFundMe to create a fast and simple way for small businesses to accept donations through their Yelp page.

One Dine is offering restaurants free access to their parking lot order and pay technology that allows guest to place orders on their mobile devices, drive to your location, and notify you when they arrive so the food can be delivered to their car. For so many restaurants trying to navigate a new landscape of pickup and delivery only this temporarily free service may help.

If you’re worried about how to communicate your new hours or want to easily accept text-to-order tickets, Ovation can help. Ovation is a customer relationship management software that allows you to interact with your customers via text message. During this difficult time they are offering restaurants 1000 free messages.

RestauranTrak is a new product just entering the market that is powered by Nielsen and will allow restaurants to benchmark their performance against their local markets. Being able to understand the ebbs and flows of your local market during this volatile time will help restaurants make more informed decisions. The product is free and they are currently accepting their first beta users.

Virtual Gift Card Partnerships

Even though customers can’t step foot inside most restaurants these days, many are showing their support by purchasing gift cards to ensure their favorite spots generate some cash flow during the pandemic. In fact, Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger started an online collective called Save Our Faves, a website that helps participating restaurants sell gift cards to patrons across the country.

Merchants like Fattmerchant, a payment technology provider, are stepping up to help struggling restaurants by waiving their fees for processing and selling online gift cards. The company agreed to waive its 3.49 percent processing fee for the first $5,000 of gift cards sold by its members. For small businesses, this cash can be the difference between staying open another month and shuttering the doors for good.

Shift4 Payments, an integrated payment processing service company from Hanover, Pennsylvania, is aiding these efforts by trying to raise $200 million for restaurants nationwide. On top of that, the company is also contributing an extra five percent toward every gift card purchased through their website. For example, a gift card purchased for $100 from the site will result in $105 for the merchant. That extra five percent will be pooled into the restaurant aid funding, up to $10 million.

Customers who want to support Shift4 can go to Shift4cares.com to purchase gift cards.

Crowdfunding

Restaurants all over the country are banding together to create crowdfunding networks to help each other stay afloat and feed those in need.

In Washington D.C., chef Erik Bruner-Yang’s Power of 10 crowdfunding plan is hiring out-of-work chefs to feed needy communities. The plan is simple. Donations begin at a minimum of $10, the price of a single meal, and increases from there. Donations of $10,000 or more will hire 10 chefs to create 1000 meals. You can donate to Power of 10 by clicking here.

Several restaurants in Los Angeles have banded together to help feed hospital workers and first responders. Employees Only LA is currently serving free “staff meals” to furloughed hospitality industry employees and their families. Other organizations such as  EATnakedLA and The Habit Burger Grill are sending meals and food trucks to hospitals to help feed the frontline workers. LAist currently has a running tally of restaurants and organizations you can donate to by clicking here.

Restaurants in middle America are also benefitting from crowdfunding initiatives. Several St. Louis-area restaurants are utilizing GoFundMe pages to help raise funds, many of which have 150 donors or more. The St. Louis Business Journal is keeping a running tally of businesses who need you support. Click here to donate.

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