Food delivery with a twist
Barbados’ business climate has changed over the years. Everything is more fast-paced now, where information is literally at one’s fingertips and those without quick, easy access to it will be left behind.
Because of this, the local business world is more hectic than ever and this translates to the home as well, since many parents are working. It is in this climate that two entrepreneurs saw an opportunity to provide a valuable time-saving service: food delivery.
Go4Food and CSM FoodCourt are two separate entities providing a similar service – they are liaisons between customers and eating establishments. In separate interviews, BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY recently sat down with the owners of each business to find out why and how they came up with the idea.
“I’m from Barbados but I travel and I saw things missing in terms of service excellence (in the food industry). I realized food delivery was something which was needed here – not just for locals but for visitors too who are already accustomed to this type of service,” said Go4Food owner/operator Natalie Millar.
She said Go4Food was a multi-restaurant delivery service based in West Terrace, St James, with around ten contracted restaurants, although she offered delivery islandwide from anywhere. She employs two “mobile waiters” and one dispatcher.
“People call; I take the order, contact the restaurant, go for the order and deliver it to the customer. The food is sealed in special food bags which are not reopened until the customers do so themselves,” she said.
Millar said it was difficult at first but business has begun to improve as restaurants appreciate not having to hire drivers themselves. She spoke on how such a business reflected on Barbadian society. “I wouldn’t say Barbadians are getting lazier; rather, they are busier. A lot of parents who work late hours can’t find the time to cook and this is a way to try a new service. Plus, it is food you know, not something I concoct at home,” she said.
CSM FoodCourt general manager George Newton said they too were looking at the local business market and saw the need for quality food delivery service.
“There was a real lack of people getting what they wanted to eat. I realized this was a niche and we could work with it but it had to be done properly and strategically. It took a lot of trial and error,” he said.
Newton, who now employs two dispatchers, five “mobile waiters”, a business development manager and four auxiliary “mobile waiters”, said they had “changed the face of the game”.
“We are very technology-based; we utilize tons of technology. From the time an order comes in, it is put into our system and the information is relayed to the appropriate restaurant. We then route the closest driver and inform the client of our arrival time,” he said.
Newton said they make use of the BlackBerry Messenger and the Internet and have already handled orders requested from overseas for people living here. “This service is perfect for those who are busy in an office and are too busy to battle traffic or for people at home with a family but don’t want the hassle of preparing a full meal,” said business development manager Ricardo Davis.
Newton said inaccessibility in Barbados was at a “ridiculous” level and today’s society was far too hectic to have to rely on in-house delivery services or to go through traffic to eat.
“We have people who order from restaurants but can’t get to them. Across the world, jobs are being lost and job descriptions are being extended. There is only a small window some people have to eat, yet they have to do so as well as handle their extended responsibilities and get their personal stuff done, so this is where we fill that void,” he explained.