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The digital revolution has transformed the way businesses approach their operation and customer-facing tasks. There’s no way you would encounter a successful business that doesn’t have an online presence. Even though the saying claims that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, it’s fair to say that customers from everywhere judge the quality of a company’s products or services after taking one look at its website. It takes users as less as 50 milliseconds to form an opinion of a company based on its website. Needless to say, businesses that didn’t invest in their digital presence can suffer a terrible blow.
But digital presence encompasses much more than just a website. It’s a variety of triggers, tasks, and applications that support a company’s profile and activities. And when it comes to heavy customer-facing sectors, such as restaurants, you can’t make it work without digital support. Indeed, as a strongly offline-based service – ultimately, it’s an environment that forces customers to get out of their homes and come to the site –, restaurants have to rely on digital technologies to bring their business to the next level. Here’s the little manifesto of restaurants 2.0, an upgraded guide to typical restaurant management.
#1. Get the right admin and management tools
The romantic view of passionate chefs who understand their foods and make it in a harsh environment is outdated. A restaurant is a complex business that needs to balance multiple operations at the same time. From keeping tracks of your stocks to counting revenues at the end of a busy day, it’s fair to say that the idyllic representation of a bookkeeper using pen and paper is not accurate. There’s a reason why successful owners using dedicated restaurant accounting software solution: They’re tailored to the specific requirements of the hospitality sector, helping chefs to make better-informed decisions. Additionally, for large teams, a time management solution can ensure that days off and holidays are carefully monitored so that the restaurant never lack staff on busy days. Ultimately, digital technologies provide restaurant owners with the overview that pen and paper approaches can’t deliver.
#2. Get your website right
How do customers pick where they’re going to eat? Then it’s not word of mouth, they review and compare websites to find a restaurant they can trust. Consequently, a website that fails to inform about your main dishes or that doesn’t showcase your culinary mission fail to attract new customers. The first thing that customers are going to check is how often your content is updated. If the last update mentioning a new menu was posted several years ago, people might feel that your restaurant isn’t trying hard enough. While it can be difficult to produce fresh content for a restaurant site, you can use blog articles to mention seasonal ingredients and promote your specials. Additionally, a common issue for many small restaurants is to rely on a DIY website. A pre-made template is applied, and the site is parked onto an inexpensive server. A low-cost server that fails to provide security and storage and quick loading times can damage the reputation of your business.
#3. Make it easy to book a table
The Millennial generation – which is the most important population in the workforce – dislike using the phone. While it’s ironic when one considers how much time young adults spend on their smartphone, it’s easy to understand that people only make a phone call when they can’t sort out their issue otherwise online. Consequently, restaurants that have implemented a handy online booking system tend to experience a higher number of bookings than restaurants that rely on calling only. Ultimately, if you force customers to call to book, they might just look for the next best option online.
#4. Make your menu easy to use
Food allergies are becoming more and more frequent. It can be difficult for experts to explain the reason behind the prevalence of food allergies and intolerance issues, but the increase in cases has not gone unnoticed. As a result, restaurants are required to publish their ingredients in order to reduce the risk of allergic reactions. For someone who needs to pay attention to the food they order, an online menu that offers a filter option to exclude specific ingredients can be a helpful addition to the website. Ultimately, customers want to be presented with a list of choices that are suitable to their lifestyle and health requirements.
#5. Make your food sociable
#BestFoodEver. #DinnerWithBoo. #SuperbFood. Whichever hashtag your customers use, they live in a digital world of shared experience. Millennials turn to Instagram to decide where to go and go. Consequently, a restaurant that has a rich Instagram profile and lets people share their photos is more likely to attract a digitally-savvy generation. Indeed, your patrons don’t just go out for a meal. They go out for a snap, a meal, and a hashtag. While there might be concerns about the selfie generation and their love of sharing pictures, it’s important to notice that these customers actually increase the visibility of your restaurant online. So, why not leave a comment on the menu to mention your favorite hashtags?
#6. Let people enjoy the experience
A natural continuation of your social media presence is to make sure that you don’t ban customers from using their phones. Indeed, while more and more restaurants are considering banning photos to protect the experience. However, while photos can become overwhelming, your more likely to benefit from the leveraged promotion of your customers’ social media presence. Snapping a picture is now part of the dining out experience.
#7. Interact with reviewers
Despite your best efforts, the experience might not be positive for all. But when a reviewer leaves negative feedback, the best approach is to use the online platform to engage with them and deal with the issue in public. Indeed, a negative review is not the end of the world. But a negative review left unanswered is the end of your business!
In an era of digital technologies, restaurants need to adopt modern interactions to help their customers enjoy the experience. From opening your business to the use of social media to offering menu filters for food allergies, staying digital means staying in business.
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