Businesses Down Under Find Creative Ways to Stay Afloat as Lockdowns Continue

  • Innovative restaurants are offering three-course meals at home
  • "Happy Hours to go" drive pub revenue in lockdown
  • Virtual performances help musicians make ends meet

With COVID cases continuing to grow, residents in Sydney, Australia, are experiencing the harshest lockdown since the pandemic's start. As a result, small businesses are developing creative ways to keep things running amidst restrictions.

"When there's a hard lockdown, it affects almost every single industry," reports Simon Ingleson, CEO of RosterElf, an Australian-based Staff Scheduling and Rostering Application.

Working with businesses across various industries, RosterElf has witnessed first-hand how different sectors have been affected and how they respond. As a result, they've seen an uptick in rostering activities across industries such as home improvement, logistics and manufacturing.

"Many of our customers are cutting back on future rosters, but a few companies are trending upwards. Both groups, however, are actively working to adapt their businesses to the current market." 


Fine dining restaurants like Three Blue Ducks have introduced creative ways to bring the experience customers would typically have on location directly to their homes. For example, the farm-to-table chain has developed a three-course feast to enjoy at home. 


Bryony Corbett for Three Blue Ducks said, "We have all had to adapt in these challenging times, and, at The Ducks, while we can't welcome you and your teams for meals and events right now, we have had to find other ways to keep our crews employed and the business ticking along."


The feast includes entrees, mains, dessert for two and step-by-step instructions to prepare the meal like a chef from the comfort of your kitchen. In addition to continuing to serve their customers, the fantastic concept has also allowed them to reach those who aren't local.

"We absolutely plan to keep the boxes going post lockdown, particularly through our partner Providoor as this allows people who aren't local and don't have access to the restaurants to try our food (especially the ability to deliver to regional NSW and the ACT)," says Bryony.

Some venues have also introduced "Happy Hour" to-go concepts where the drinks and snacks are packaged and sent to customers to enjoy at home. So what would've usually required a booking and sitting down is now being enjoyed on the go, opening up businesses to more customers.

The addition of these new and exciting business models has enabled many businesses to sustain 50-100% of their revenue and staffing numbers. Despite being a temporary fix, it's easy to see how innovations developed in times of crisis can become profitable future revenue streams.

Hospitality venues are not the only winners in the evolution game. The performing arts sector is seeing a raft of innovation with musicians performing live shows via video link, comedians performing stand-up shows via zoom, and actors delivering remote coaching sessions.

Many personal trainers and those in the fitness industry have also moved to virtual models with remote one-on-one and group training sessions. Timo Topp, a personal trainer, based in Rushcutters Bay, NSW, reflected on how he's supporting his clients through this challenging time.

"I'm fortunate to have the right business model for the current situation. So, I didn't need to change much except being extra inspiring and positive to support people through tough times." Timo explained, "Right now, it's important to prioritise exercise. It's the best thing you can do to feel better."

Despite the hard lockdowns, there have been winners. Simon from RosterElf has seen several industries accelerate growth throughout the COVID period. "We see industries including logistics companies, healthcare, online retail, and home improvement businesses rostering more than ever and regularly bringing on new staff."

High-performing businesses on either side of the divide are using lockdowns as an opportunity to improve their operations and implement new systems. These new systems are helping to combat future disruptions and help businesses continue to keep their doors open.

However, challenges have come about in understanding the rules and regulations businesses need to support. Specifically around understanding the terms of restrictions and who it does or does not apply to.

On the street in New South Wales, it's been hard for the average person to understand which services are essential. However, the NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, insists that the rules are clear and open to interpretation.

"In the discussions, we've had across a vast range of businesses, the key to survival was good planning, execution, and communication from a governmental level," Simon reported. "Our clients are struggling when the directions lack clarity, when timeframes blow out, and when they see conflicting information."

As the lockdowns continue, Australian businesses will continue to adapt and evolve. With a pre-pandemic governmental push for innovation and productivity COVID may be the impetus needed for the coming years of growth.

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