Guest Blog: How to Pivot Your Business During #COVID19 Like KFC Jamaica

Photo Credit: @kfcjamaica

Industry: Fast Food | Company: Restaurants of Jamaica

Managed Brands: KFC, Pizza Hut |Years In Operation Locally: 45 Years

When the first confirmed COVID19 case hit Jamaica, on March 10, like many businesses,  Restaurant of Jamaica, owners and operators of KFC scoped the landscape and saw how to best to pivot given the unprecedented times to make ‘painful decisions’.

A week later, on the heels of the Government shutdown which brought the limited operation with a 12 hour curfew, the once high trafficked and high volume stores saw sales plummet by 50%; fewer persons were eating out given the restricted public gathering to 20 persons and out of fear and uncertainty of coming out into public places. According to Director of Marketing Tina Matalon who noted in a July Zoom session, “our biggest challenge was accessibility; we’ve been looking at the delivery channel for a couple of years, the right model and approach to enter it with a brand like KFC; we accelerated that, rapidly”

This spawned two news releases in April:

·       The brand added a delivery option.

·       The brand announced temporary layoff of staff.

Social Media Backlash

Once social media got wind of the layoffs, the brand came under severe backlash online.

Thousands of Jamaicans online begged for their fellow Jamaican workers who by that time would have received lower working hours and possibly been laid off. The challenge? Jamaicans saw no reason to lay off staff when the demand for the brand’s key products was still very high. Jamaica’s Largest food chain, amidst a tight curfew which brought “early closures of our restaurants during some of our most patronized times of the day the options were very slim.

According to the release ‘it has been struggling to cope with significant declines in sales and transactions of more than half of its business.” The company went on to say that it will re-engage employees as quickly as possible. adapt and find creative ways to sustain its operations in order to ensure that it can continue to support its employees for as long as possible.

Digital Shift

“The Jamaican marketplace is behind on a lot of trends that are globally successful when it comes to technology or in the digital landscape; one of the immediate opportunities we saw was opening our access channels”. As delivery partners were small in operation catering to casual dining, the infrastructure was not equipped to take on the robust nature of a high-demand, quick service fast-food model like KFC. The brand worked with partners to scale up and meet the demand quickly with an excellent package, on-time delivery and fast turn-around time.

Thankfully, amidst the flurry of COVID19 and the backlash, not only did the team “keep everyone employed and on the team which was an incredible feat”, social media sentiment  has been returned in a favorable light and  the brand accelerated business models in 3 weeks to:

✔️Adapt to the shift in consumer behavior (stay-at-home or WFH).

✔️Get the product to them (online ordering via 7Krave )

✔️Redefine customer acquisition via digitizing.

The business now has three models – walk-in, drive-up, or order in. Digital ordering and delivery will be a ‘permanent channel moving forward’.

#HowToPivot: Advice to the Caribbean Biz

·      Review your operations and spreadsheet.

·      See where you can meet customers where they are in terms of delivery.

·      Make a big deal of the new options to drive awareness, trial and uptake.Be agile in your approach, listen to feedback and follow all guidelines stipulated.    

About The Guest Blogger

Shane Bennett is the co-founder of Social Media Day Jamaica. A media and marketing strategist by profession, he focuses on digital, experiential and public relations for personal, corporate and SME brands. Find him on Twitter and on LinkedIn sharing tips for digital branding at his @iamsgb handle.

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