WORDS: ANNE SCHAUFFER IMAGES: SUPPLIED
There’s little doubt that those who were first off the mark when it came to deliveries and services had a head start. But like anything, the thrill and relief of a delivery soon fades if the service isn’t good, the quality of goods is so-so, the delivery team isn’t kitted up hygienically, and a host of other criteria aren’t met.
Those who are delivering or providing a service have had to move up a notch because competition is ramping up – fast. This is the new now, and in this weird world you need to be better. Veggies must be fresh from the farm, not exhausted off a shelf. Packaging must be creative, and you need to do it faster.
The definition of “essential services” is inevitably constantly changing. More and more people are finding innovative ways to convert their businesses into online or personal delivery, while the range of available goods and services out there is increasing by the day As everybody knows, many big brand stores were very soon unable to deliver within a week, even two. But others like Umhlanga Spar quickly took up the slack, employed teams, and added the personalised aspect. Sitting on the Berea some 20km away, a delivery from them is same day or the next.
There are businesses working off their strengths and reinventing themselves. They’re also looking after their staff. One such example is Don Bailey. He is Expanda Sign, his wife Tanya, Uzwelo. Together they have a staff complement of over 300.
“How could we all survive this?” asks Tanya. They soon realised they were in a good position. “We have our own CMT (cut, make & trim), weaving and printing – with incredible seamstresses. Instead of banners, flags and bags, we now make top-quality masks.” The staff are employed and they’re providing an efficient, effective service.
How to float your boat
Technology is everything, and whether your Zoom conference is boosting morale among colleagues, is a tool for a high-powered meeting, or the sanity of a 5pm book club, it has become the new norm. Diego Baldi teaches yoga to a wide range and level of devotees – including prospective yoga teachers – from his Inner Wellness studio in Musgrave Road (and a few other venues). Now he has a calendar of days, times and types of yoga, and everybody dials into Zoom. The first week was free, thereafter by donation – but he won’t turn away anybody because they can’t afford it.
And it’s also about safeguarding the future. Jenna and Stefan van der Merwe of Stretch Pilates in Durban North run both their Pilates and biokinetics classes on Zoom now, and offer private classes too. But it’s more than that. “We have a loyal client base, but whether it’s fear of technology or affordability, some don’t or can’t join in. We want to retain those clients, and we want to keep them active, so when they’re able to return, they come here.” So, Jenna puts out comprehensive emails with exercises and photographs – great service, and future proofing their business.
Support local, live healthy
Vendors and businesses are changing, but so, too, are the public. We want to support small, wholesome businesses. Michel and Desiree Pito are Baynesfield Living, a small-scale boutique veggie farming operation. Today, they have six drop-off points from Hilton to Morningside, everybody pays on line, and on Wednesdays and Thursdays, everybody on the WhatsApp group is notified to collect their (bulging) vegetable box of farm-fresh veg for the princely sum of R200! Cheaper than growing them yourself.
Then meet Claire Allan and Jenny Clarke, owners of Fat Frog in Lilian Ngoyi Road, a popular restaurant and coffee shop that now exclusively sell frozen meals, but with a changing weekly menu of six dishes and the delivery option once a week for a small charge.
The gift that keeps on giving
Vouchers (often appealingly discounted) are assisting many small businesses through this silent period – pay now, use it later. And it’s working for everything from hairdressers to beauty salons to restaurants.
But it can also work slightly differently. Sati Sonitis, one of the franchise directors of Circus Circus Café, put this message out on social media, “Buy a voucher, specify which cafe, and we’ll issue the voucher for that venue.
Fifty percent of the voucher will go to the waiters and kitchen staff of that venue, those who aren’t earning much; the rest goes to that cafe.” In addition, it’ll get their clientele returning to their favourite Circus Circus to use their voucher, once lockdown is freed up.
A creative future?
Artist Kay Smart runs drawing classes. She’s established a WhatsApp group and sets participants a task every day. Students who do it, photograph their drawing and it’s enjoyed by all. It’s not a money spinner, but for Kay it keeps her “clients” motivated and connected – and although it’s not her focus, she will undoubtedly stay front of mind for when lockdown unlocks.
ESSENTIAL SERVICES… DELIVERING
- Mitchell Park Pharmacy
- Col Tempo Italian deli and ready-meals
- Glenwood Bakery: buy there, or they deliver fresh bread daily. Now selling fruit and vegetables too.
Operating in your hood: Durban
Expanda Sign | expandasign.co.za
Stretch Pilates | stretchpilates.co.za
Baynesfield Living | 084 551 0762
The Fat Frog Kitchen | fatfrogkitchen.co.za
Circus Circus Cafe | circuscircus.co.za