Restaurant owner saves family business by going digital during MCO

Taking his business online ensured Kartik’s family business was able to survive MCO restrictions.

SENTUL: When the movement control order was announced in March, Kartik Ganason feared the worst, believing it could spell the end of his family’s 33-year-old restaurant.

Four of his family’s shops had closed down during previous economic downturns. He knew the last outlet would not be able to survive a hit such as the restrictions of the MCO.

“I was in a state of depression. I didn’t know what to do because we could not open for business,” said Kartik, whose Restoran Citra Maju was started by his father in 1987.

Kartik trained as an engineer but gave up his career to take over the family business when his father fell ill six years ago.

With his family’s livelihood under threat, he knew he would need to act quickly to keep his father’s legacy alive.

He decided to take Restoran Citra Maju online and signed up for Maybank’s Sama Sama Lokal after being approached by the service.The platform offered him a way to sell his food online and gave him the training and support he needed.

It only took Maybank a week to get the restaurant fully set up and online after receiving the company registration number, address and menu.

Restoran Citra Maju has been serving customers in Sentul for 33 years.

“That’s when I realised that (going online) could really help us,” Kartik said.

Everything from his profile and online menu to his payment gateway was handled by the Sama Sama Lokal team, who also walked him through how it would work and how to best communicate with customers and delivery drivers.

He said everything was transparent and easy to understand, keeping him from being overwhelmed by too many details.

The platform works like most food delivery services, but unlike other platforms which take cuts as high as 30%, vendors are not charged a commission. They are also paid within 24 hours.

Since going digital, Citra Maju’s business has improved by 50% and the shop serves nearly 150 more customers every week, as the system gives it an additional income stream and allows it to be seen by a wider group of new customers.

Even people from Puchong, some 30km away, have come to his shop since it reopened for dine-in customers.

Fans of Citra Maju who found the restaurant through Sama Sama Lokal have also asked it to cater for events, which Kartik sees as a big opportunity.

He believes digital platforms like these have the potential to help many other small businesses as it makes going digital accessible for everyone.

Now, he plans to attend training sessions organised by the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) through its eUsahawan programme, which he hopes can give him the tools to further grow his online presence and reach even more customers.

Having seen the way the shop has grown in such a short period, Kartik says he has no plans to leave the business behind, and takes pride in managing the business and continuing the family legacy. In fact, he is already looking to expand the Citra Maju brand as his father once did, with two new outlets planned for 2021.

“Before I came back, the first 10 years of my career I was away from my family. I missed everything. I couldn’t be there for good or for bad. But now, I’m not leaving them. I need to be here for them.”

MDEC recently launched its #SayaDigital movement, and its CEO Surina Shukri said the core objective of the initiative is to provide Malaysians with digital skills and to empower businesses to go digital.

MDEC chief executive Surina Shukri.

“We want to equip individuals and businesses with the tools needed for them to thrive in the new normal while making giant strides in the 4th Industrial Revolution.”

Various programmes such as PeDAS, eUsahawan, eRezeki, 100 Go Digital, Go-eCommerce and eBerkat are designed to help cultivate the digitalisation of local businesses.

During August, #SayaDigital will feature several MDEC-led programmes, providing businesses with various means to go digital and enabling Malaysians to be digitally skilled with speed and at scale.

The first two weeks of the movement focused on scaling digital adoption among businesses, while the subsequent two weeks provide opportunities for Malaysians to learn and enhance their digital skills.

The recent SME Digital Summit, the first of its kind in Malaysia, attracted over one million participants who learned about and implemented digital solutions to restart or expand their businesses.

For more on how #SayaDigital can guide your journey through digitalisation, go to www.mdec.my/sayadigital.