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Business app to help friends now aims to support the entire Gold Coast

Nick Nichols | May 2020

Marketing executive Troy Vandermeer had a plan to help a couple of friends trying to stay afloat amid the global shutdown, and now it looks like many more Gold Coast business could benefit.

Mr Vandermeer, who was stood down in March from his position as Head of Marketing for Star Group in the wake of COVID-19 restrictions, has developed a simple web-based app that he hopes will give Gold Coast businesses a central platform to keep customers informed of interim trading hours while restrictions are in place.

“The reality for many businesses is that while restrictions are still in place, there is so much confusion around who is open and what services they are still offering,” Mr Vandermeer says.

“Googling isn’t always the answer in a situation like this, especially for smaller businesses whose websites might show they are still open even though they aren’t. That’s very frustrating for customers and not ideal for businesses.

“Many businesses are now fielding many phone calls from customers asking if they are still open, if they deliver or if they can buy though their website.

“I figured the best way to solve this was to list as many businesses as possible on a single platform to give customers all the relevant information they need. It saves them going to individual websites only to find out-of-date information.”

The Support Gold Coast app attracted more than 50 business listings within days of being set up and many more have since signed up.

“I saw a similar concept in the US where almost 5000 businesses were signed up and it really helped local business and the community stay in touch in such an unpredictable environment,” says Mr Vandermeer.

“I don’t see any reason why we couldn’t get a couple of hundred or even a couple of thousand businesses to join. I’m just trying to make it as easy as possible.

“While I understand digital marketing, this is a shot at getting stuck into building a web-based app. The concept is designed to be very simple to use to help businesses get through this period as best they can.

“I had seen a few of my mates struggling in business and, as I had a bit of time on my hands, I decided to put this together for them and for businesses in the Coolangatta area. The feedback has been really good to a point where I now have been spending a bit more time setting up campaigns to encourage usage across the whole Gold Coast.”

The Support Gold Coast web-app is a useful platform for restaurants and cafes that have introduced home deliveries or interim trading hours and specials.

“These businesses may still go straight to a service such as Uber Eats, but this app is not designed solely for the hospitality industry,” says Mr Vandermeer.

“It’s also meant to help retailers and the service industry. I have a lot of friends who are in graphic design and one who is an electrician. This has been perfect for them too.

“The Support Gold Coast web-app creates a single platform where you can list your business and your services, and where locals from the Gold Coast can get the latest information on these businesses including new hours of operation.

“We can update any changes to details straight away, easily within 24 hours.”

The Kirra local admits the app has become bigger than he anticipated and, as it doesn’t earn him any revenue, it is essentially designed to be a public service.

“I haven’t had any income since being stood down and I’ve already spent a little money putting this together. I don’t really want anything back from it, although if anyone wants to buy me a cup of coffee there’s a link on the site it would be greatly appreciated,” he joked.

“The best thing is that rather than helping just a few locals I believe this service can help the entire Gold Coast, so we’re now rolling it out to any business that wants to participate. So, let’s do what we can to keep them going.”

It doesn’t cost anything for businesses to sign up to the Support Gold Coast app and, as it is a web-based app, there is no downloading required by customers.

Simply go to the website www.supportgoldcoast.com.au and save it to your phone’s home screen or computer desktop.

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