Coronavirus has brought an air of fear around everything – from touching people to the money in our bank accounts. Small businesses, in particular, are at high risk of closing their doors for good. Some believe that the pandemic will mean the end of small shops and restaurants, and that only large chains will remain – the ones that already ruled their respective markets. In an attempt to save small businesses, some companies are getting creative.
Loyal Cast, based out of central Florida, has a business model intended to help small restaurants function during this unique moment in history, and to help consumers get more bang for their buck. Their founders, Anthony Giallourakis and Michael Giallourakis, a father and son duo, believe that their model is the future for small, independent restaurants. They provide meal codes that restaurants can sell, similar to a gift card, but where the restaurant has more control over when the meal code is used and what meal is provided.
How It Works
Loyal Cast provides interested restaurants a password to be able to sign up their business on the Loyal Cast website. Once the restaurant has set up a business account, they gain full access to the restaurant dashboard on the web portal, which they can use to set up their Blackboard discovery tool in the phone app, and to do other things like order meal codes, create and send out invitations, etc.
Customers can go onto the app and look for restaurants they like in their area, see what meal code prices are offered by that restaurant, and then call them to purchase a meal code. The restaurant decides what meal will be offered on a particular day and sends out an invitation to customers who have purchased meal codes. If a meal code holder decides that they would like to use their code that day, they can accept the invitation and pick up the meal at a time frame designated by the restaurant.
How It Helps Smaller Independent Restaurants
It’s more efficient for a restaurant to make many of the same meal based on their available inventory rather than allowing customers to purchase any item from the menu. They have control over how many invitations they send based on their capacity and inventory on that particular day. In turn, the consumer gets a better value for the price they are paying, as long as they are willing to give up some freedom of choice.
Loyal Cast promotes ‘touchless’ service, which is essential given that the coronavirus pandemic calls for social distancing. They cater to small restaurants and offer an alternative to their full menu while distancing guidelines are enforced. Customers who purchase meal codes can also gift them to friends or donate them. To show their appreciation for frontline workers, many are donating food and PPE. A Loyal Cast meal code would be one way to donate food during this time.
COVID-19 is creating a new normal from the way people work to the way that they buy and interact with one another. While many fear the loss of old, familiar ways of doing things, entrepreneurs know they must adapt to a changing market. Many consumers are concerned with helping the small businesses in their area that have helped to create a sense of community. If we want to save more than the big box stores and franchises, we have to get creative in how we support small business.