Apart from being a technical geek, I am a restaurateur myself for the past 7 years and I am trying to answer the question that I have been asked several times.
Even though we have a beautiful restaurant with excellent food and exquisite customer service; apparently, in today’s day and age we don’t exist if we are not online. Internet, and smartphones has changed the way people make choices. The first thing that happens in the sub-conscious memory is to check the place online. Almost 90% of the times our patrons would do the same to come to a decision. As I mentioned in an earlier post, your website is referred as your online business, therefore, it is an investment compared to an expense.
There are many places where we could be listed. Some we do ourselves (Google, Yelp) some just grab the info and place it without our consent. However, the authenticity of what we are and what we do should only come from us through our own website. It is our brand, our customers, so our website should be the only source of authentic information.
Just a few days back we got an esteemed patron who claimed that a dish we served should be charged at the price that was shown in the website that was hosting our menu. Stunned at the information being 2 years old, we still honored the request and politely asked them to refer to our official website for the latest information. The lesson learned is that we cannot trust anyone to host correct information than ourselves.
To get people inside the door we need to be visible. There used to be a time that restaurant owners spend thousands of dollars to put up pole signs and other markings to increase their visibility. Some bigger chains still do that as they have a handful of marketing budget. For the rest of us, our website is and should be the face of our restaurant in the online world. We know that our visibility is very important and our location, menu, atmosphere, and all parts of our offerings can be demonstrated in our website.
There are high times and low times, we all know that. Though we plan for them well in advance we still need a last-minute tweak to give out offers. Tuesday specials, Wednesday’s Kids eat free and other specials we run needs to tweaked and implemented with ease. Without our website, we would be dependent on the other websites that host our information. Will they do it for us? I don’t think so. Even if they did it would not be instant and we cannot wait till Thursday to offer a deal that we wanted to introduce on Tuesday.
Very recently, we changed the time of our operations. I literally had to visit almost 10 sites and make that change. I mean why in the world would I have to do that? If any of our esteemed patrons need our information they should be looking it from our website.
In those excellent weekends that we get pretty busy one of very old patrons could not get a seat in two consecutive weeks. They usually drive for around 17 miles to eat with us. We know that we now need to have a table booking option on our website so we can serve our customers better. We are because of them and they deserve the best.
The way of ordering has changed significantly in the last seven years of our operation. We usually used to get phone calls for the orders and people were happy with it. In the recent past, we are increasing getting asked about our online ordering platform. We are currently in the process to get our online ordering system up and running (Hint: I am doing it myself) so we can get a little bit of relieve from giving out 20%-30% of our profit margins to the 3rd party websites. We have a problem where we cannot setup the same style of menu as we are planning to do in-house. They have their limitations and if we are to use them we ought to follow their rules.
It is frustrating to be following someone else’s rules in our businesses. Isn’t it? I believe I am assist in relieving that pain point. To assist you in getting your own website where you can do your business the way you want to do and the way your customers want it to be.
Let me know if you are looking to get your online presence. It doesn’t take a lot of time and it does not cost a leg and an arm. You don’t even have to pay upright. A small subscription fee will take care of it month-to-month. I feel the pain that we go through as I am part of the industry. Call me to discuss and I will try to assist as much as I can. 281-836-0059.