As businesses of all shapes and sizes continue to fight off the challenges of COVID-19, implementing creative solutions and adapting to the so-called ‘new normal’ is vital for success. Growing uncertainty around which UK businesses will be allowed to operate and what support they will receive from the government can be extremely unsettling.
Now more than ever, thinking outside the box and embracing an agile approach is key to maintaining momentum.
So how can you draw inspiration from fellow business owners to make the most of a difficult situation and find a winning formula in an era of social distancing and local lockdowns?
To find out, we sat down with the guys at Fego to discuss how a small UK restaurant chain is embracing local community and micro influencing to resist challenging times.
Introducing Fego: A UK Restaurant with a South African Twist
Fego takes customers on a journey through food and culture by celebrating the joy of entertaining in a safe and welcoming environment. While today’s restaurant industry is awash with flashy branding, super exclusive menus and pretentious dining etiquette, Fego takes a laid back approach to hospitality, without compromising on the quality of their delicious South African cuisine.
With seven locations dotted around the rural towns of Southern England, Fego lives and breathes a genuine sense of community that very few restaurants manage to nail. The company’s Founders stay true to their South African roots and capture memories of their childhood to deliver a unique dining experience that puts human connection at the centre of the equation.
Following six months of turmoil and ongoing uncertainty for the hospitality sector, we’re delighted to report some much-needed positivity about Fego’s response to the pandemic.
While they’re well aware of how the virus will continue to impact UK businesses, they remain optimistic about the opportunity to pivot their approach and develop new strategies to engage customers in the ‘new normal’.
So, let’s take a look at what Fego has been up to in the last few months and explore how the hospitality sector as a whole can embrace change in these uncertain times.
(Fego specialises in delicious South African cuisine.)
Local Community Engagement
The guys at Fego explain how integration with the local community is the cornerstone to everything they do. While many businesses claim to actively engage with their customers, Fego takes community spirit to a whole new level.
They describe the importance of listening to the community and getting a feel for how people are coping emotionally, understanding what support they require and asking what Fego team members can do to ease the load.
“The important thing was momentum and maintaining some presence in the local community.”
Whether it was delivering bread to people’s homes, staying up-to-date with local Mums groups on Facebook or simply waving to people passing in the street, taking the initiative to understand the general mood of the community and catering to their needs was vital to build confidence and maintain brand relevance.
Local Issues Require Local Knowledge
Fego attributes much of its recent success to their General Managers for their ongoing efforts to respond to the nuances of individual communities and using local knowledge to tailor their approach.
They describe their ability to strike meaningful connections with people (irrespective of whether they’re a paying customer or a friendly face in the neighbourhood) as a distinct advantage over larger chains that can’t offer the same level of personalisation.
Now more than ever, listening to the community and understanding their changing needs is critical to make customers feel comfortable and welcome.
Local Influencer Marketing
We love Fego’s slightly left field and ‘out of the box’ approach to marketing. While many businesses in the hospitality sector believe influencer marketing and building a strong social media presence is the key to getting customers through their doors, Fego has mastered an alternative tactic.
Continuing with the theme of community spirit and human engagement, Fego relies on the power of local influence or ‘micro influencing’ to create brand awareness that spreads like wildfire. They leverage word of mouth marketing to create a local buzz and build popularity with clusters or “bubbles” of certain groups.
They explain how something as simple as building brand affiliation with groups of parents from the surrounding schools is a powerful way to establish a loyal customer base.
(Fego establishes loyal customers by word of mouth marketing, and building a sense of community with the locals.)
Changing Attitudes to Local Businessess
Fego explains how the growing public appreciation for local businesses following the outbreak of coronavirus has been key to their success. While many of the major restaurant chains have been forced to shut their doors, the continued support of loyal locals and reciprocated generosity from Fego has helped to keep the ship sailing.
A member of Fego’s marketing team explains how many businesses can get distracted by things like Instagram followers and high-profile influencer brand deals to the point where they lose sight of what they’re trying to achieve.
Although local social media influencers can be a useful way to attract customers and building a strong Instagram presence can cement brand credibility, Fego has shown that going back to basics and engaging with real communities can be surprisingly effective for small businesses.
While the last six months have been extremely challenging for Fego, they explain that the ultimate takeaway of recent times is the value of forced change to future proof their business.
How We Can Help Your Local Business
As the virus continues to shake the industry and present businesses with new obstacles, adapting to change is crucial for local businesses.
At 365 Business Finance, we help local businesses by offerring merchant cash advances between £5,000 to £200,000. Our merchant cash advance is designed as a quick way for any business that accepts credit and/or debit cards to raise capital without the need for a bank loan or hefty overdraft.
With no APRs, hidden fees, or extra costs, you only repay when customers pay you, meaning repayments follow your cash flow, letting you focus on running your business.
At every step of the way, you will have support from a dedicated funding advisor. They will help you throughout the entire process, from applying to receiving your funding.
Get a free quote today - we approve 90% of businesses that apply, and funds can be with you in as little as 48 hours.