When Roy Cole Jr. began working for NinjaNow about a year ago, it was a part-time job to fill his time.
He never imagined he would become a frontline worker for an essential service, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, that’s what has happened.
“I feel like it’s a privilege and an honour to be an essential service to the community and help them in a time like this,” he said.
Before the pandemic, Cole was working 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. about five days a week. Now a lead driver he works 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., seven days a week.
With precautions including gloves, hand sanitizers and less face-to-face with customers as no-contact delivery gains popularity, Cole said he isn’t worried about contracting COVID-19.
Cole is one of 14 drivers from local delivery company NinjaNow, where business is booming as people stay home and order food during the COVID-19 pandemic.
NinjaNow recently saw one of its busiest days ever, with 270 orders on the Westside.
“People are rallying around the local restaurants,” said Cheryl Kerik who started NinjaNow and runs the front lines from her West Kelowna home. “Support local means a lot out here.”
NinjaNow serves West Kelowna, Peachland, Vernon and recently added Kelowna.
Previously known as deliverit.ca, the business has been in the Okanagan for about 10 years.
At the beginning of 2019 Kerik rebranded the company as NinjaNow and launched an app for Android and IOS.
The COVID-19 pandemic is causing NinjaNow to grow faster than Kerik anticipated; she is adding menus daily for restaurants who want offer delivery to their customers.
You won’t find big chain restaurants on NinjaNow. Instead there are places such as Sushi Q, Kelly O’Bryan’s and Bamboo Chopsticks.
“My model is all around local mom and pop restaurants,” Kerik said. NinjaNow has grown to 14 drivers and Kerik said they could use another 10.
The novel coronavirus has forced NinjaNow to make changes to the way it does business, including setting up no-contact delivery and supplying all its drivers with hand sanitizer and bags to cover their debit machines.
Kerik is proud of NinjaNow’s support local movement.
“We give the same service that the big out-of-country aggregators as far as technology, but we give really super good customer service,” said Kerik.
She added aggregators such as Skip the Dishes and Door Dash are charging 25% to restaurants per order.
“Most restaurants, their profit margin is only 25% if they’re lucky” she said.
NinjaNow offers a flat rate fee and promotes restaurants’ brands.
They also offer local pricing in restaurants.
Kerik said she's had offers for her company, but turned them down because she wants to be there to keep the local mom and pop businesses alive.
“These little gems we have out here, they will die off with these aggregators out there,” she said. “We’re going to stay right where we are and we're going to keep growing just by doing it the right way.”
NinjaNow delivers more than food and prescriptions.
Customers can fill out a specialty order form on the NinjaNow website for any kind of delivery.
“There’s nothing we won’t do, unless it’s illegal of course,” Kerik said.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Kerik is seeing requests to deliver alcohol, cigarettes as well as some more peculiar orders.
“Right now we’re delivering condoms and rush tampons,” she said.
NinjaNow is even seeing moms use their service to deliver home-made suppers to their kids who live away from home.
For more information about NinjaNow or to set up a delivery, go online to NinjaNow.com