With small businesses already dealing with hikes in Vat and petrol, coupled with decreased consumer spending, load shedding is a bridge too far, particularly for restaurateurs.
For those who took their chances with the last rounds of load shedding and held back on purchasing equipment for standby measures, now might be the time to make those investments.
Many establishments often increase their prices to cover the cost of capital equipment, but this may not be the smartest move as it drives the existing customer base away, not to mention new business.
As it is, consumers are either reducing their restaurant visits or scaling down to just main courses and drinks to reduce the overall spend. Owners who are serious about staying in business should rather think long term. We all thought that we’d seen the back of load-shedding, but it is back in full force.
Those restaurant owners who bought gas stoves during the power crisis a few year ago are now at a distinct advantage. Therefore communicating that you have this facility available is paramount to good trade. If not, now is the time to invest in going gas and running fridges and other electrical appliances via a generator.
If you want to attract business, then you need to show customers value – that you’re prepared to invest in the right equipment to keep them supplied during the dark days of load shedding.
Restaurateurs can even couple load shedding times with special deals, driving these on social media platforms or adverts and even inexpensive flyers.
Scot Kirton, chef proprietor for the La Colombe Group in Franschhoek, says that adapting to change is key, whether it’s in respect to a declining economy or load shedding.
“Restaurants have had a tough time in Cape Town but now we need to adapt in other ways to keep our restaurants operating,” says Kirton.
Uninterruptible power supplies and back-up power inverter systems that keep tills and computers running should also be considered.
Even if you have a generator, it can take a few seconds to kick in once the power goes down. But a UPS will bridge the gap and reduce the risk to vital equipment that can be severely damaged during sudden power outages.
Load shedding, it seems, is here to stay. It’s essential that business owners take that investment step to operating fluidly when the lights go out.
Erin Louw is Retail Capital’s group brand officer.