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‘Restless’ B.C. web developer creates free food-ordering apps for local restaurants | CBC News

Ruby on Rails | June 13, 2020

An app developer in B.C.’s Interior is using his talents and spare time to create mobile ordering apps at no charge for small, locally-run restaurants, to help them keep their businesses running amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Even though many restaurants have remained open, their business models have changed — takeout and delivery have become king, and third-party delivery services like Skip The Dishes and DoorDash are busier than ever. 

But when a restaurant signs up for one of those third-party delivery apps, they lose revenue. Kelowna restaurant owner Trevor Jones said it would cost him up to 30 per cent to have a third-party driver deliver food to customers. 

“It really is a complete ordering experience that kind of cuts out the middleman,” he said. 

That’s where Jeremy Buhler comes in; his app development business, Eazi-Apps, slowed down, just like many others, when the pandemic hit. He was growing restless and said he couldn’t sit on the couch any longer. He decided to put his skills to use, offering free mobile app development for restaurants. 

“Mobile apps are highly underappreciated and underutilized technology right now, because historically, this has been, apps are only for the big players,” he said. “[Any restaurant] can have their own mobile app and the mobile app goes directly on their customer’s phone.” 

On average, app development for a small restaurant would cost between $2,400 and $3,500, Buhler said. 

There is a maintenance fee of $149 per month to maintain the app and keep it current on Apple and Google. 

Once an app has been created, which Buhler said takes about a week, it has to be approved by Apple and Google before it can be listed in their mobile stores. 

The benefit to having a custom mobile app as opposed to ordering meals on a website is the ease of use, Buhler said. 

“It is clumsy and it is time consuming,” he said. 

“Even if they already have a website with an online ordering system, an app has the most valuable real estate that you can find, which is right on your customer’s phone.”

Though his app is about two weeks away from going live, Jones said that its creation has allowed him to hire back seven of the 29 staff he had to lay off in wake of COVID-19, in the hope the app will create more work for them.

“We’re really anxious to see if we get back to business and get the rest of our team back,” he said.

Having his own app also means Jones is able to reach customers directly through push notifications, rather than through emails, which Buhler said most people don’t open anyway. 

He also has access to customer data, which could help with marketing. 

“I do think it will open some doors for us,” Jones said. “Certainly, the long-term opportunity for us is exceptional in building that component of your business.”