When you live in the town of Battle Ground, it’s no surprise that you’re going to fight back if coronavirus threatens your restaurant.
That’s the story of Russell Brent, owner of the Mill Creek Pub in Battle Ground, Washington, about 25 miles north of Portland, Oregon.
The Mill Creek Pub is a community institution serving families and catering events. An authentic old waterwheel slowly spins in the restaurant’s center, commemorating the town’s historic grain and timber mills.
On March 16, Washington’s governor ordered all restaurants in the state to close for at least two weeks, except for take-out and delivery. Brent, realizing his business was about to change, immediately went to a nearby wholesale store and bought all the to-go supplies he could fit into his car.
The Mill Creek Pub’s Ooma Office phone system was soon flooded with calls from loyal customers ask for take-out and delivery, more than his staff could handle. Brent reached out to George Castillo, his Ooma sales rep.
Mill Creek Pub staff taking phone orders
“I knew I was missing sales because of unanswered calls,” Brent says. “At this point, who can afford to give up a single customer?”
Castillo quickly arranged for 10 of the Mill Creek Pub’s employees to have the Ooma businesses phone app installed on their smart phones to receive calls and text messages. By setting up a ring group, incoming calls to the restaurant’s main number go to all 10 employee phones simultaneously and the first available employee can take the call.
“Without multiple phone lines right now, I’d be losing business,” Brent says.
Brent shared the news with his customers in a Facebook post on March 19: “Phones were ringing off the hook at the pub. Love my community. We added 10 phone lines today. You should be able to get through. We also added a line to text in your order and online ordering is coming. Thanks to George Castillo and Ooma business technologies for making it easier to serve all of our customers.”
Online ordering is now in place, but many Mill Creek Pub customers prefer the personal connection of a phone call. What’s more, the restaurant pays a credit card commission of just 2.5 percent on phone orders, compared to 4.5 percent for online orders – a significant difference in the low-margin food service business.
Brent has been in restaurants for his entire life, although he says it’s only a vehicle to pursue what he really loves: “connecting the community.” We couldn’t have said it better. As small businesses around the world confront the economic impact of coronavirus, we’re glad Ooma Office can help in a modest way to keep people connected.