A husband and wife from Sambourne near Studley who launched their business selling wood fired pizzas from a converted horsebox have harnessed the power of social media to ensure their first six months of trading was a success — despite the Coronavirus pandemic.
Rammy Arafa, 34, was furloughed from his job in medical sales when the country was suddenly plunged into lockdown at the end of March, so fearing redundancy, which eventually came, he decided to pursue his lifelong passion for cooking as a new career, setting up Fire and Fizz with his wife Sally-Anne, 32.
The couple who have two children, aged three and five, immediately began work on building a profile for their new business on social media ready for when the national restrictions were lifted.
They signed up to a free series of digital workshops delivered by Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce and Stories Marketing, on behalf of Warwickshire County Council through the Warwickshire Towns Network Programme.
And it paid off, helping Fire and Fizz to reach 1,000 Facebook followers and 750 on Instagram, which, in turn, led to healthy orders and a number of bookings at events held by other businesses in and around Studley throughout the summer.
The online workshops share, delivered by Stories Marketing, provides insights into how businesses can use social media and other digital tools to drive traffic to their website.
Rammy said: “I was on social media myself, but I didn’t really know how to use it to promote a business. The workshops taught me how to use it more efficiently, and their ideas for content, how to use the right hashtags, and the need to be more engaged with our followers, were quite simple looking back, but really effective.
“Within the first week of putting them into practise when restrictions were lifted, we were getting more followers which meant more orders and bookings.
“Words and phrases like content, engagement, hashtags and geo-tagging can be quite daunting if you don’t know what they mean, but Sam and Emma, from Stories Marketing made them so easy to understand and demonstrated how important they are to getting noticed on social media.
“It’s been a real eye opener and life changing to get some free advice and guidance on how to grow our brand in what can be a very congested online world. I’d definitely recommend the workshops to anyone, no matter what their social media knowledge is, it’s proven invaluable to getting my business established.”
Keely Hancox, of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “We know from the start-up support that we offer that it can be quite daunting to be establishing a business at the best of times so to do it and then have a pandemic hit could seriously derail plans.
“It’s great, therefore, that Fire and Fizz have put into place many of those lessons learned through our digital training courses which have not only helped them through the height of the Covid-19 crisis but will also stand them in good stead for the future.”
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Leader of Warwickshire County Council and portfolio holder for economic development, said: “It’s so encouraging to hear of businesses that are adapting so quickly during the pandemic. We were delighted to be involved in the scheme and set aside funding in our recovery plan to support online and digital training, particularly for the retail market. Small businesses are integral to the local economy and this training will stand them in good stead not only during the pandemic but also in the future.”