Coronavirus in Israel: Businesses must branch out to survive

A business consultant from Lahav, a Bank Hapoalim business department manager, and two business owners in the food sector explain how to cope with the financial COVID-19 crisis.

Shai Bar Lev (photo credit: Courtesy)
Shai Bar Lev
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Shai Bar Lev
Everything Is More Precise and Customer-Oriented
“We opened our first branch two years ago on Tchernichovsky Street in Tel Aviv, and the concept was always to keep it secretive and underground, to focus on deliveries and takeaway services and to be constantly on the move between different sites, a kind of ‘secret’ burger.
“Since then, our hamburgers – which are made with kosher meat – became famous around the country thanks to the very lengthy smoking process. This is unlike most burgers, which are grilled.
“We currently have two branches, one in Ramat Hahayal which we opened in March of last year, when the pandemic began, and one in Ramat Gan, which is also kosher mehadrin, which we only opened in the last few weeks. We opened it because we felt it was important to be able to meet the needs of all of our customers.
“Our website has a menu with all the different hamburgers and toppings, so each customer can receive their order either complete or ‘deconstructed,’ to be put together themselves.
“Since the pandemic began, our turnover has increased and the number of people we employ has increased sharply. For a long time we worked only with our own delivery people, but two months ago we moved on to Wolt – the popular food delivery service – because we were unable to keep up with the pace of the orders. Unfortunately, as soon as the third lockdown started, we were forced to temporarily discontinue our on-site takeaway service, and now we rely on deliveries alone.
“We are planning to open another two branches in the very near future, one in Rishon Lezion and one in the Sharon region. There are a lot of business opportunities at the moment – restaurants that closed their doors and were left with all the equipment and infrastructure needed for a restaurant, which means it’s possible to find very good deals.
“The way I see it, this period has a certain charm, because everything has to be more precise and customer-oriented. We are happy to compliment our industry colleagues in the present climate, and it makes us genuinely happy when they are also doing well.”
The writer is the manager and owner of “The Professor – Secret Hamburger.” 43 Habarzel Street,
Tel Aviv, and 77 Bialik Street, Ramat Gan. Tel: 051-505-0145.
Sela Avishai (Credit: Courtesy)Sela Avishai (Credit: Courtesy)
Sela Avishai
Deliveries to Collection Points around the Country
“At the start of the pandemic—after ten years of military service in the elite reconnaissance unit, Sayeret Matkal, and another three as a strategy consultant—my partner Uri Weiss and I opened our new venture marketing fresh, gluten-free baked goods. I have celiac disease myself, and I knew there was demand for these kinds of products among people with celiac disease, as well as among people with who are sensitive to gluten and who either don’t want to or can’t eat it. We opened a small warehouse in Tel Aviv, and we distribute the products of three exceptional boutique bakeries that work with us—Gluteria, Bread Pomerantz and Dulce. We sell different types of bread, baguettes, rolls, pitas, Danish pastries, tarts and more, all high-quality and all gluten-free.
“The first thing we did was to set up a website showcasing the products we offer, through which customers can place their orders. Twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, our delivery staff deliver the goods to collection points around the country. For example, families with children or parents with celiac disease who you can pick up the deliveries from, or shops who saw that there is demand for these products, like the one we work with in Pardes Hanna. We were not sure if it would work initially, but we quickly understood that people are looking to buy fresh products that are delivered to their door, something they can touch and smell. For most of them, the only choice before now was to order frozen and usually mass-produced gluten-free baked goods from the supermarket, so this is a completely different experience for them.
“Obviously there are a number of challenges for a business that was set up during the pandemic, and we are learning as we go. For example, the fact that there is a lack of stability when it comes to orders. Or that during this period, word-of-mouth publicity is less effective, because people are going out less and communicating with each other less. So we are focusing on expanding into new circles and working a lot via Facebook and WhatsApp groups. We believe in the quality of the bakeries we work with and believe that as soon as the pandemic ends, our business will find a solid footing and expand significantly.”
The writer is a co-founder and co-owner of “Trust-Eat,” gluten-free baked goods.
Tel: 052-399-3645,
Nir Shaffir (Credit: Courtesy)Nir Shaffir (Credit: Courtesy)

Nir Shaffir
Make Sure to Have Positive Reviews Online
When restaurants are closed, more and more people turn to digital media to buy prepared food.  And indeed, digital channels for ordering prepared and restaurant food shot up by dozens of percentage points over the duration of the pandemic.
 The competition among restaurants has likewise increased alongside that growth in demand. In this situation, with so many restaurants lacking a USP, potential customers attach significant importance to social media reviews left by previous customers. The more positive reviews a restaurant has, the higher the chance people will order from you. Therefore, you should ask your customers to leave positive reviews on every internet channel—Google, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp etc—preferably with pictures of the products.
For your part as restaurateurs—treat your customers, make them feel special and ensure the meals they receive are generous in quantity and full of love. And on that positive note, I wish everyone a successful business year in 2021.
The writer is a business and management consultant.
Ifat Dinisman (Credit: Courtesy)Ifat Dinisman (Credit: Courtesy)

Ifat Dinisman
Plan Ahead with your Cash Flow
The pandemic period has changed the rules of the game and increased the feeling of uncertainty. My tip, especially for those businesses in the food industry—which on the one hand is considered essential while on the other is nonetheless subjected to restrictions—is first and foremost to plan ahead with your cash flow. It is important to be aware of your cash flow balance at all times, your anticipated income and outgoings, to enable you to prepare ahead of time and be ready for any situation. It is also important to set aside a certain amount each month for any unforeseen circumstances. That will prevent your business from suffering shockwaves in cases of a drop in income, help to ensure cash flow stability and prevent troubles for the business owner that may require them to adopt urgent financing solutions at high rates and that may not be suited to their needs. It is also important to keep abreast of the state of the market and adapt your marketing and sales networks accordingly. That means increasing advertising in order to reach relevant and larger target audiences, adapting the delivery network and creating an accessible and user-friendly website for orders. Expanding the pool of customers and supplies now will help to establish successful foundations for the rest of the year.
The writer is the deputy manager of the Hadar Yosef branch of Bank Hapoalim and the manager of the business banking department.