When Mairead and Garry Anderson opened the doors of their new restaurant in Killybegs in December last little did they know of the unprecedented challenges that were just around the corner for them.
“We were hugely excited to be opening The Boathouse and it came on foot of our successful Seafood Shack business” explains Garry.
“But then in March, like so many other small businesses right across the country we had to close our doors. We invested so much money in The Boathouse, we had to try and adapt and look at how we could continue to operate safely.
“We opened up the takeaway service and while it was hugely popular it presented a whole new set of challenges. People were gathering to wait on their orders and we just could not comply with social distancing and as a result, The Boathouse was forced to close again and rethink its operations.
“We reached out to a friend of ours Eugene Blaine. Eugene is originally from Bruckless and he is a UK based technology entrepreneur. He offered us the use of his existing technology platform, Rhino Online and this has been a game changer for us” says partner Mairead.
Mairead and Garry worked closely with Eugene to quickly develop a website and create an online offering on Rhino Online. Customers can now view menus online, schedule their orders, make payments, and most importantly can choose a staggered collection time which means there are no longer lengthy queues.
“The new app means that The Boathouse can operate safely and easily adhere to social distancing measures” says Mairead.
The partnership has also brought other benefits for The Boathouse.
“Since we started taking our orders with Rhino Online, it has allowed me to take the opportunity before service, to see what stock we need and prepare the correct amount, minimising waste and increasing profitability in these difficult times,” explains Garry.
The Boathouse is now thriving, and customer loyalty and feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
“Customers love the new service; it is so efficient. Our feedback has been so positive and even post COVID-19 we will definitely continue to run a takeaway service. Even in these challenging times, it is great to see that new opportunities are available”, says Mairead.
“These are difficult times for anybody in business and we have been fortunate to be in a position to adapt quickly using this technology solution. I think this is a time for businesses to be working together and assist each other in overcoming the challenges of COVID-19 and creating innovative solutions to ensure effective business continuity.
“Thanks to our partnership with Eugene and his team at Rhino Online we feel like we can survive this, and we can be here for our staff and for our community, long after this crisis is over. Our outlook has changed to a much more positive one. Times like these really show the resilience of Donegal businesses,” says a smiling Garry.
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