A young entrepreneur from Bromley put his own business on hold to offer almost 40 hours of free help to hospitality businesses at risk of closure.
Mark Smith, 22, knew he had to do something to help when pubs and restaurants were shut overnight.
“After the government forced restaurants, factories, kitchens etc to close, many had to rely on deliveries rather than instore footfall. I knew social media and digital platforms would be the only way these brands could communicate with their customers”
Seeing an opportunity to use his skills for good, Mark reached out to businesses that had previously relied heavily on income from foodservice and restaurants, and offered them remote help to get their businesses online:
“I was inspired by the #HospitalityProud movement which gained momentum a few weeks prior, and being a SME ourselves, knew we had a duty to help other small businesses. We all have to stick together!”
Before long, the popularity of Mark’s classes had spiralled from a few a week to several per day:
“I spoke to the first business owner back in mid-March, and in late March alone I think I spoke to over 50 F&B brands in need of my help.It was time consuming, but it was worth it!”
After delivering close to 40 hours of free help to those in need, Mark has had to cut back the hour long calls to free advice over email, but says that anyone with a helpful skillset should be reaching out.
“At the end of the day, we’re all in the same boat. Whilst I’m not selling a product to a consumer like many of the brands I helped, I appreciated that I had a skillset that many of these business owners would find valuable and would help them during these difficult times”
Background: Mark Smith, Founder, Double Up Social
Growing up with restaurateurs for parents, Mark has always been deeply rooted in the world of hospitality. In 2018, he founded Double Up Social to help restaurants with social media and digital marketing.
They currently run the social media for one of the UK’s largest dessert chains, Creams Cafe, and have also worked with grab & go food businesses like Wrap it Up! and Chicken Cottage.
Stats: Hospitality During Coronavirus
– Sector expects to lose more than £1bn turnover this year alone
– One in four businesses may never reopen
– 40% of restaurants, 25% of hotels and one in seven pubs at risk of permanent closure.
Federation of Small Businesses national chairman Mike Cherry said:
“Start-ups in the food and drink sector are struggling…while food retail is up, the foodservice industry has entirely collapsed because all events have been cancelled”