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Nando's, Westgate. Picture: SUPPLIED/NANDO'S
Nando's, Westgate. Picture: SUPPLIED/NANDO'S

Covid-19 and SA’s nationwide lockdown hit the restaurant industry hard. For Nando’s, it was clear that even after lockdown, there would be no return to business as usual. So in true Nando’s fashion some savvy creativity brought new ways of bringing peri-peri to the people.

General manager of digital marketing Darren Hampton says, “There are always opportunities to innovate, and a changing environment does not necessarily change our desires, it simply changes the way we fulfil them. Our customers still want our chicken, and we want to serve it to them. So, we found a way!”   

He says that Nando’s has used every opportunity to bring ideas to life that would otherwise have not been priorities in pre-pandemic times. Starting at level 5 of the lockdown, when all restaurants had to remain closed, the home of peri-peri wasted no time. The Nando’s app was customised to give people the ability to purchase Nando’s vouchers which could be redeemed as soon as restaurants were reopened.

Not only did this help keep sales flowing, but it also allowed the restaurant chain to raise more than R1m for the Solidarity Fund — a public benefit organisation with a mandate to support the national health response and contribute to humanitarian relief efforts in SA’s fight against the impact of Covid-19.

Once level 3 of lockdown was announced, Nando’s was quick to give South Africans a safe, sanitised and almost contactless takeaway experience by launching Kerbside Collection. “The pandemic didn’t curtail SA’s enthusiasm for peri-peri, so launching a channel that gets flame-grilled chicken into the hands and stomachs of South Africans in the safest way possible became a priority for us,” says Hampton  

Through Kerbside (affectionately nicknamed “Zwakala Sokulethela” meaning “You come to us and we bring it to you”) customers are given the option to order and pay through the Nando’s app or website, drive down to their local Nando’s and have their food brought to their car on a tray as they wait in a specially demarcated parking area at no extra cost, including delivery fees.

Hampton believes that Kerbside will last beyond the pandemic; in fact, he expects it to grow. “It’s a convenient and cost-effective way for our customers to place their order and collect it without having to leave their car or touch a credit card machine.” 

With the arrival of level 1 (and not a moment too soon) South Africans were finally allowed to walk in, sit down and eat at their favourite restaurant. However, the innovation didn’t stop as Nando’s endeavoured to take the contactless dine-in experience a step further.

Menus became downloadable through a QR code and complimentary WiFi at Nando’s restaurants. Customers were then able to browse the menu on their smartphones rather than touching paper menus that are shared by other customers or moved from table to table.

Nando’s is offering standard vouchers as well as a coupon system for corporates who want to reward their employees. Picture: SUPPLIED/NANDO'S.
Nando’s is offering standard vouchers as well as a coupon system for corporates who want to reward their employees. Picture: SUPPLIED/NANDO'S.

While Nando’s is traditionally a consumer-facing business, the brand has innovatively identified a need in a different market segment that has been created by this pandemic.

“Traditionally, many corporates have a wellness programme and subsidised meals for their employees through a canteen on site. As entire workforces now work from home, many employees are no longer receiving these benefits. This has made employers look at other ways to fulfil this need,” Hampton says.

Nando’s has already been supplying vouchers to numerous companies for a few years, and these businesses use them as part of their employment benefit and loyalty programmes. These vouchers are also now being offered as call centre incentives. Most recently, Discovery Business Insurance and the Avis SafeDrive programme rewarded clients with Nando’s offers by unlocking behavioural-based rewards for good driving.

Nando’s is offering standard vouchers as well as a coupon system for corporates who want to reward their employees within specific parameters. “If, for example, they want to offer employees a subsidised daily meal from Monday to Friday on a particular Nando’s menu item, we can create a unique coupon that caters to this specific request,” says Hampton.

This new corporate option is something that few restaurants are in the position to offer. “We have the footprint and meal options to deliver healthy office lunches, no matter where a person is working from. As central workspaces in a single location become less prominent, businesses are encouraging and promoting healthier lifestyle choices to their employees. Being readily positioned to move into the business-to-business space is an exciting prospect for us,” says Hampton.

As Covid-19 continues to shape our future, Hampton says Nando’s is going to continue on a path of innovation to unlock new ways to satisfy the peri-peri passions of its customers. “We know we are not out of the woods yet, but we are confident that Nando’s, along with our country, will weather this storm. Our SA fire, with the help of technology, has accelerated our ability to adapt to these changing times. After all, making a plan is what we do best as South Africans,” he says.

About Nando’s 

From the humble beginnings of a single restaurant in Rosettenville in 1987, Nando’s has grown into the largest SA restaurant group to expand beyond borders.

Nando’s is best known for its authentic peri-peri flame-grilled chicken, which has captivated customers the world over. All Nando’s peri-peri recipes, from the extensive range of restaurant chicken-bastings to sauces, spices and others, remain a closely guarded secret. Flame-grilled and never deep fried; customers choose Nando’s chicken from a menu that includes full, half or quarter butterfly-cut chicken, burgers, pitas, salads and a host of other innovative bites. Whether you like it spicy, mild or with lemon and herb, Nando’s chicken is legendary and has cemented itself in the hearts of South Africans everywhere.

If your mouth is watering after reading this, learn more about the group and place an order on the Nando’s website, or join the conversation and bring the fire on Facebook and Twitter.

This article was paid for by Nando's.

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