It’s no secret: COVID-19 has hit the service industry hard. While some have had to shut their doors completely, others are doggedly trying to stay afloat by adjusting their business model to accommodate pandemic-era lockdown laws.
What many establishments are realizing, however, is consumers’ reluctance for face-to-face or phone interactions. Perhaps driven by an abundance of background noise or an agoraphobic byproduct of never-ending days of isolation, the public’s preference for digital service has grown exponentially.
As such, restaurants that do not have mobile capabilities for ordering, paying, and delivering are struggling. Refusing to let our beloved neighborhood eateries sink, CardFree has extended a lifeline to all those that need help adapting to the times.
“Some smaller restaurants that don’t have the time or money to develop online or mobile ordering have had to work with delivery companies – sometimes by choice and other times those companies simply include them in their listings without permission,” explains CardFree CEO, Jon Squire. “Our goal is to provide restaurants and stores with easy and cost-effective solutions that they choose. And unlike delivery companies that charge up to 30% commissions, we have very affordable fees (during COVID any fees have been waived) and we give restaurants their customer data to market to use however they want. Delivery companies see consumers as their own consumers and not necessarily that of the restaurants.”
Trends show that consumers who utilize mobile ordering not only do so with greater frequency, but tend to spend more overall. Today, the preferred convenience of app-driven service has altered to an actual necessity.
“Everyone loves convenience and now, with COVID-19, it also adds the safety component of being contactless so no need for shared menus, pens, kiosks, screens,” says Squire. “With the right mobile solution restaurants can offer a fully contact-free experience to get back to business.”
So how does it work? Simply put, CardFree provides restaurants and stores with the services they need in order to effectively meet consumer need and demand. From enabling mobile device ordering, sending and redeeming coupons, to offering businesses a way to implement a loyalty program – CardFree does it all.
As a privately-owned entity, they don’t answer to traditional investors. This enables CardFree to be driven by not a bottom-line, but a desire to help.
“With COVID-19, for example, we were able to shift our focus quickly and deploy a solution that works for smaller restaurants and were able to offer it for free,” explains Squire.
Restaurants can fill out a form at cardfree.com or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org to take advantage of this complementary service, which includes online and mobile ordering capabilities, as well as contactless payment for all types of service – from curbside to eventual dine-in.
“We truly hope to help restaurants offer online/mobile order and pay so that they can get back to the business of running their restaurants and providing meals to their communities,” says Squire. “We are a start-up so the most valuable thing we could offer is the technology that we spent years and millions of dollars building. If it can help even a handful of restaurants survive this difficult period, it would have been a good use of our time and efforts.”
What does the future hold for the service industry? It’s hard to say.
“Dining may move more toward a contactless future with the mobile device front and center, but one thing we know from this pandemic is that people need and love their restaurants” expresses CardFree’s CEO. “They are our places to gather and celebrate and connect and hopefully we all have a renewed appreciation for owners and operators and the millions of people that are employed in the restaurant industry.”
CardFree’s future is a direct reflection of the restaurant industry’s.
“Restaurants and startups are like siblings, you have to be scrappy and know that tomorrow may require you to pivot to a completely new world. While this new world will bring a ton of challenges, it will also allow us to do what we love, enable our brothers and sisters in the restaurant space to adapt and succeed,” envisions Squire.