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Business in crisis. Clients to the rescue

With the slogan “buy now to enjoy later”, businesses that use this type of proposal multiply to face fixed costs and generate some cash

Nobody was prepared for March, the usual starting month of the year, to transform overnight into a month of total stoppage and zero sales. The cessation of activities imposed by the mandatory quarantine put merchants and entrepreneurs from all walks of life to think about how to overcome these uncertain times that impact and will impact business in a forceful way. Appealing to inventiveness, the businessman and gastronomic consultant Martín Blanco proposed to a friend and gastronomic colleague from Uruguay the idea of Save the Fork: advance purchase of forks during the quarantine to consume those meals once the locals reopen their doors to the public. Inspired by Save the Whale (the claim in English that identifies for decades the ecological crusade to save whales from extinction) and associating the shape of the whale’s tail with the shape of a fork, he came up with this concept that in English means “Save the Forks” and that invites loyal customers to save restaurants from extinction during this quarantine.

Blanco knows the food and drink industry well. For more than 18 years, he has directed Moebius Marketing y Comunicación, a marketing, consulting and business agency specialized in the world of gastronomy, tourism and good living. He is also the founder of the Bar de Carnes restaurant, which remains closed during this quarantine. “The Save the Fork idea was already implemented by my colleague with his most loyal customers at his Ibarra restaurant in Montevideo, but it is transferable to any other gastronomic venue,” he says. “Gastronomies from all over the world are resorting to these types of initiatives, appealing to customer engagement with their favourite food place so that, with their advance purchase, they help them sustain their business.”

The Montevideo restaurant started by offering a pre-sale of brunch and free dinners through a distribution list on WhatsApp and with posts on their social networks. The question that arises is what volume of pre-sale is required for the business to survive? “If they achieved a pre-sale among the 1% of their 15,000 followers, for example, it would already be a big step,” reflects Blanco, while applying the variable to the reality of his own restaurant and calculating that, if implemented, You should sell 700 vouchers a month to cover the minimum of your closed premises fixed costs.

“Everyone will know what best suits their business model,” he continues, “but I think now is the time to forget about the margin a bit and offer your clients a spectacular meal to maintain that emotional relationship that unites them. Of course, You have to think that many of these dinners or lunches can be exchanged perhaps only in September, so each one should establish a cost of that pre-sale that is tempting for both parties. It is always advisable to offer a customer benefit, such as 25% off, with the same criteria as discount coupons. ”

The businessman believes that these types of measures will not be a “panacea” that will save any gastronomic business but that they will undoubtedly help to generate a cash inflow while the quarantine lasts, essential to cover fixed costs. It’s about staying afloat in the storm. He warns that it is time to “reconvert quickly” and mentions other interesting initiatives such as that of Cómodos, a project that markets “super homemade” gourmet frozen food via Instagram and that offers delivery in various cities in the country.

A few weeks ago, an initiative arose in which different bars (mostly breweries) published a QR code on their networks that people could scan to buy them a drink in the future. To enhance these individual efforts, Gancia and BBDO developed #OtraRonda, a site where you can select a bar to buy a drink to take post-quarantine, where Gancia joins in buying the first round of 5000 bars and will also double consumer buying.

Another brand that is betting on this model is Stella Artois, which offers a voucher that allows you to anticipate the purchase of a meal in gastronomic venues, with the company taking charge of doubling the value that the customer pays.

Bank time

Can loyal customers monetize their favourite merchants in this uncertain scenario? That idea was also the trigger for the launch of, the site that Lautaro Rodríguez Barreiro, Francisco Facal and Manuel Gómez Pizarro devised in late March. With the invitation “Support your favourite stores during these difficult times”, the platform works as a free tool so that businesses of any category can offer their customers the pre-purchase of products or services. “It is about giving a hand to your favourite businesses by paying them in advance and they will give you some benefit by the gesture. In difficult moments is where the best intentions come to the fore,” announces the website. works 100% free and is aimed at businesses, freelancers and entrepreneurs. It allows them to create and sell online purchase vouchers that their clients pay in advance through any of the payment methods that MercadoPago offers, and the money goes directly to the merchant. How is it used? By entering the CompraFutura website, each business can create their own e-shop in a few minutes. By completing a form with the amounts and promotions that you are interested in offering to your customers, you will receive a series of templates free of charge to publish these offers and benefits on your own social networks, such as a direct purchase link to include in your profile. Instagram “For many neighbourhood businesses it functions as a gateway to e-commerce and online sales, and we believe it will serve as a digital learning experience,” says Manuel Gómez Pizarro, one of its creators.

Just ten days after its launch, the platform already brought together more than 1,000 businesses from all sectors (mainly gastronomic; clothing, and beauty and personal care) and from all over the country. The benefits offered to depend largely on the possibilities of each business and the knowledge of what may be tempting for its customers. Café Crespín, for example, the classic pastry and coffee shop in the Villa Crespo neighbourhood, offers its regular diners a pack of 8 daily menu lunches to use throughout the year for $ 2000, or a dinner for two for $ 1,300, among other promotions.

In the catalogue you can find everything (vouchers include special discounts, 2×1 promotions and purchase orders) and it is a showcase for any type of venture or “neighbourhood” business, from a toy store in Mercedes, a hairdresser in San Miguel de Tucumán, a bookstore in Bella Vista, to a craft brewery in Neuquén. The creators of the platform clarify that “it is important that you buy in the stores that you trust”, since CompraFutura only works as a facilitator of the purchase, but not as a marketplace.

As the participation of merchants multiplies, its functionalities are updated minute by minute to optimize the platform, “especially in regard to filters and segmentation tools, to make it easier for people to search,” indicate its developers. , and they thank the team of collaborators who have been joining in these days to promote the idea.

Also published on Medium.

Published inStartups

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