When Covid-19 hit our local businesses in Wellington West, many restaurant and shop owners were forced to close their doors indefinitely. Deemed as an essential business in the food retail industry, owner Joel Orlik of the Wellington Butchery considers himself very fortunate to remain open. His challenge became figuring out a whole new way of doing business, and quickly! His mandate — ensuring his staff and customers are never at risk of the virus by taking all government-regulated COVID-19 precautions for every order, including extra sanitizing and mandatory social distancing measures. Thanks to advanced website technology for online ordering, and some good old-fashioned personalized customer service — from a distance — Joel and his team are meeting the challenges head-on, and adapting along the way.
How has Covid-19 impacted your business? What was the biggest challenge you faced?
WB: “Our biggest challenge was adapting our day to day business model at a rapid rate to comply with social distancing restrictions. We were forced to integrate pre-ordering options online for curbside pick up and delivery services, almost immediately once the crisis hit. This isn’t necessarily unique to our business, however, we discovered our small business does not lend itself well to web orders.
Normally people come in and browse, maybe have a conversation with the butcher about what’s available. Now, we need to follow up with individual orders to guide them remotely, in the process of choosing the right cuts of meats and prepared foods….when they aren’t yet sure exactly what it is they want. Then, we pick and pack the order, arrange payment and delivery. There are a lot of steps to cover in this process, and it can take time to adjust to get it right for our customers.”
How did you respond to this challenge?
With the right blend of online ordering, and one-on-one remote customer service, Joel and his team are rising to meet the challenge.
WB: “We ironed out a system and implemented a process immediately. We had to move pretty quickly to update the website with a list of our products, and add an order form. We aim to provide next day delivery service and curbside pick up. Our team is working very hard to execute and deliver on time within these time frames.
Thankfully, we now have some help! We added a partnership with Love Local Delivery, a local delivery service dedicated to independent businesses in both restaurant and food retail. The assistance came at the RIGHT time, and their concept aligned perfectly with our philosophy to support local.”
What has been the response from your customers?
WB: “We receive lots of thank you’s every day for staying open, and for delivery/curbside pick up services. Overall, customers have been very appreciative and understanding. Perhaps the most poignant was hearing the pots and pans banging throughout the neighborhood one evening when we were out delivering food. It’s a little unsettling being out there day after day, and it drove home that people really do appreciate it.”
What is the one message you would like other small business owners to take away from your experience?
WB: “Take a deep breath, and just do what you can. It won’t be perfect. Know what you bring to the table (pun intended), and try new things. Be open to developing new partnerships and most of all – take care of yourself, your team, and each other. We are overwhelmingly grateful for the kindness and support of our neighbors, and for our community. Our hearts go out to the business owners who have uncertain futures and worked so hard to get where they are. We understand that it’s not an easy time. THANK YOU for all of your support, Ottawa!”
This article was submitted by the Wellington West BIA. To learn more about local businesses, visit wellingtonwest.ca/