These days, TV and social media make running a restaurant look glamorous, and while it has its perks, you and I know that’s not exactly the truth. There’s typically very little profit margin and getting everything right is tough – especially when you work long hours yourself, and sometimes have to give up your own weekends and holidays.
In such a competitive industry, even the smallest advantage could overtake your competitors and be the difference between success and failure. It could mean being able to finally replace your old freezer or renovate your storefront.
In such a competitive industry, even the tiniest advantage could see you leapfrog your competitors and could be the single difference between success and failure. It could mean being able to fix the things that need attention such as broken tables or replacing an old freezer without suffering bankruptcy in the process.
So what’s the silver bullet that’ll make your restaurant stand out? What will draw out the craving of the masses for your restaurant’s food?
It’s simple. Information and access.
Do Websites Really Matter?
As a restaurant owner, you might think listing your restaurant on directories is all you need to do to build a strong online presence. Directories like Trip Advisor, Google, Yelp, or Open Table.
But it’s not enough!
Online directories are notoriously bad at showing the menu properly and keeping everything up-to-date. Some will even change their review system whenever they want, which could hurt your restaurant’s reputation.
For example, Yelp changed their review system last year – it hid 5-star reviews and prioritized poor reviews that were written 4 years ago instead. You probably don’t want that right? It’s a receipt for disaster!
To advertise your restaurant effectively online, you need to figure out the following:
Well, according to Mintel (global market research company), around 80% of restaurant visitors will research the place before actually visiting, and that includes those who’ve come once or twice before.
But where do you think they’re going to do their research? Well, Google of course! More and more people are searching there every day. In fact, it’s been growing by over 10% year-on-year.
With that in mind, how do people decide where to eat out?
Well, as a foodie who eats out all the time and run @eating.with.me, I always start by searching for a cuisine ‘near me’ or at a specification location, such as ‘Italian restaurant near me’ or ‘Japanese BBQ Chancery Lane’. From the search results, I would then look around until I find a restaurant that stands out and has what I want to eat that night.
Do you think your restaurant will stand out when it looks the same as your competitors in restaurant directories?
Do you think your restaurant can grab the attention of hungry customers with good reviews alone?
By now, hopefully, you’ll appreciate how having a great website will help your restaurant stand out. There’s more though! Google will actually show your restaurant’s website over your competitors if you focus on setting up a robust online presence.
In this article, we’ll go through 5 crucial points that are essential to restaurant owners to help their restaurant get more buzz and fill more tables.
#1 Social Media Platforms Aren’t Great for Returning Good Search Results
While social media seem like an easy way to create an online presence, but if you’re just relying on your Facebook page, you’re going to be disappointed.
Not everyone is on Facebook, and the number of users has started to drop. In late-2017, Facebook also reduced the number of fans a Facebook page could reach to ‘encourage’ page admins to start paying for their advertising.
That’s not all!
The main reason a Facebook page will disappoint is the simple fact that social media isn’t designed to show on search results.
Don’t believe me? Head over to Google and search for something like ‘pizza near me’, or any cuisine / location you want. Let’s take a look at the results. On the first page of search results, you’ll see a local map, 10 organic search results, and a few paid ads at just above and below it.
How often do you see social media accounts like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter do you see appearing in your search results? Based on my own analysis, they’ll only appear in 1 in 10 search results.
Hopefully, this demonstrates by having only social media presence online, the chances of your restaurant getting found will drop by 90% – not ideal right?
A well-developed website with high-quality content will always help your restaurant rank higher for Google and other search engines. This increase the chances of your restaurant’s website showing on the first page of the relevant search results.
Here are more facts for you! Around 85% of people searching don’t ever leave the search results’ first page. If you’re not showing up there, you might as well just forget it.
#2 Maintaining Control
Reviews can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, your restaurant could get stunning reviews, but you could also get photos that don’t look great or comments that aren’t very positive.
Unfortunately, this happens to every restaurant from time to time. When customers do their research, these reviews could make them reluctant to booking a table in your place
On the other hand, if you’ve got your own website. You won’t be at the mercy of 3rd parties and external sources. You’ll have the ultimate control over the way your website looks, and the information it contains.
With your own website, you can ensure the opening times are accurate, and a more detailed guide in bringing your customers to your restaurant’s footsteps. With more control, you can also upload your latest menus, and show only the best reviews and photos.
Basically, a website will let you have full control of your restaurant’s branding.
Based on the fact that loads of people will search online before picking a restaurant, it’s not difficult to see why having your own website will seriously make or break your business.
#3 Deliver What Your Customer Wants to See
Nearly every business owner makes this mistake – they create a website that only they themselves like. To create a successful and effective website, you need to set your own needs aside and figure out what your customers want to see instead.
Remember, your website is here to add value for your potential customers – cater to their needs instead.
Assuming you agree, what should your website include? What do your visitors want to see? A great restaurant website should have the following 4 things:
A) The Latest Menu
When people choose a restaurant, the most important factor is obviously the food. By uploading the latest and most appealing menu online, you will stir up the craving in people and make them think about your restaurant all day. That’s exactly the result you’re looking for!
However, simply uploading a PDF copy of your menu won’t cut it.
Uploading a PDF file is bad because of 2 reasons; it’s difficult for customers to read on the phone, and it can’t be read at all by Google. By being difficult to read, it’ll frustrate customers and increase the chances of them hitting the ‘back’ button. Since Google doesn’t know what your PDF is about, you can’t use it to give your website more context and increase your restaurant’s exposure on search results.
B) Photos of Your Food
This one is simple – photos. With photos, you’ll ignite the hunger and craving of your customers. These are the catalyst that’ll help customers looking online to quickly lock down on your restaurant and specific meals.
C) Address & Contact Details
Here’s another obvious area to include – address and contact details. It’s important to make this information prominent and easy to find. Unless you have a ‘Google My Business’ page created, address and contact details are fairly hard to find. On average, a customer gives up on finding this information in 3 seconds.
Here’s a quick tip. You also want to make your restaurant’s phone number clickable. That’s because you want your customers to be able to call you with just one-click. Without it, you’ll lose lots of customers who are interested because they either can’t be bothered to copy and paste, or memorize your phone number and recite it on the call screen.
Basically, make it quick and easy for your customers, and they’ll reward you with a booking.
D) Your Opening Hours
When your customers arrive 2 minutes before closing, it’s awkward for both you and them right? Well, we can greatly reduce this risk by clearly displaying your opening hours on your website.
By making this information easily accessible, normally at the top, customers will have the confidence to turn up, knowing that you’re open. This is especially true during bank holidays!
#4 A Sign of Trustworthiness
While a single meal probably won’t impact anyone’s life in a significant way, the majority will still want some sort of assurances that they’re going to enjoy their dining experience at your restaurant.
By having a great website, your credibility increases immediately. You’ll be seen as more genuine, reliable, and trustworthy.
Your website is one of the first impression that a customer will have about your business. If you think about it, it’s basically your online storefront. Do you care about how your restaurant look? Do you keep the wine glasses sparkling clean, the floor all shiny, and the signs outside working perfectly?
Of course, you do. That’s what builds your restaurant’s reputation. An attractive storefront will attract locals walking by, while a shady looking restaurant will drive them away. No matter how delicious your menu may be, if your storefront doesn’t look appealing, you’ll lose lots of customers before they even get a glimpse of your menu or food.
These principles apply to your online storefront as well! If your website is out-of-date, looks unprofessional, or just full-of-errors, it’ll reflect badly on your business. It’ll just scream poor quality to everyone who sees it!
Google understands this as well. Based on how people are responding on your website, they’ll know if your website is accurate and up-to-date. If your website looks neglected and barely has any new content, Google will be more cautious and less generous in showing your restaurant’s website on search results.
That’s not something you want. You want to give Google confidence so your website will show up more regularly.
#5 Give Your other Services a Boost
The last point is specifically written for restaurants who offer more than just dining services – other services such as events or catering.
Your ideal audience for dining services could be completely different to your catering services. You’ll need a dedicated strategy to promote different services.
If you have a website, that just means creating a few separate pages on your website that caters to the specific needs and requirements of the customers who may need those services.
As a business owner, if you’re not clear with what you’re offering, you’re missing out on lots of opportunities on making money with different services. Even your regular dine-in customers might not think about your other services if you don’t spread the word and market it properly.
Why Are Effective Website Design Important for Restaurants?
Establishing a strong online presence is important for most industries out there. While many industries have embraced digital marketing, restaurant owners and caterers are well-known for being terrible at promoting their services online.
The lack of interest is a HUGE waste of potential, especially because of the sheer number of food-related searches every month – many other industries will only dream of this level of interest online.
At SinFa Digital Designs, we focus on creating websites that deliver maximum return on investment. While some agencies might focus purely on design and branding, we focus on optimizing the website that’ll turn your website visitors into paying customers.
We can measure success very easily too. With data-analytics tool, we can provide more data about your customers, details like when your customers are looking at your restaurant’s website, pages they’ve visited most, their demographics, and where they’re located.
This data isn’t just intriguing, it’s the most crucial component in pulling together a successful strategy that’ll increase your profits. Catering specifically to your customers by taking full advantage of every single piece of knowledge will be that single thing that makes the difference. The difference between success and failure.