Load shedding: savvy investments to weather the storm
27 March 2019 | Web Article Number: ME201914146
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.
That’s according SME funder, Retail Capital, which says those who took their chances with the last rounds of load-shedding and held back on purchasing equipment for standby measures, were now considering making those investments.
According to the company’s group brand officer, Erin Louw, many business owners are taking loans to fund these capital expenses. “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.”
Louw said restaurant owners who bought gas stoves during the power crisis a few year ago are now at a distinct advantage, adding that 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.
“Part of the reluctance by businesses to consider financing for these items is the perceived turnaround time from applying for a loan to installation. But we now offer a WhatsApp application process that can see your loan secured in 24 hours.
“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,” said Louw.
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 (whose restaurant, La Petite Colombe in Franschhoek, won last year’s Eat Out Retail Capital New Restaurant of the Year Award), said 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,” Kirton said.
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,” said Louw.