The Importance of Online Presence – Restaurant Owners Take Note!
The world is changing rapidly, and digital technology is now vital for every business. If you’re a restaurant owner, even if your restaurant has been in your family for generations and you’re lucky enough to enjoy a great local reputation, if you don’t have an online presence you’re missing out on a wealth of potential customers who currently don’t even know you exist.
Your Website: Your Storefront Online
The purpose of your storefront is to invite people in; you need to make it appealing enough for people to want to walk through your doors. Your website’s purpose is the same, to make potential customers feel they’re being welcomed into your restaurant before they’ve physically visited it.
In addition to being the perfect platform on which to showcase your menus and promote any special offers, a website can give visitors access to intriguing information about your business. Your “About” section is a great opportunity to tell the back story of your business, sharing your personal journey with them so your guests can learn how your restaurant came into being. If it’s been in your family for generations, this can be a great selling point, giving you the chance to go to town with those old black and white photos and secret family recipes! This is a highly effective way of marketing your restaurant as an integral part of the local community.
Photographs of your business can also work very well, as they give people a feel for the ambience they can expect. Pictures of the kitchen, in particular, will make potential customers trust you more if they can see a clean, tidy working environment.
Make Your Menu Your USP
We all know great food is the main ingredient for a great restaurant; but how do people know your food is great before they’ve visited you? Having your menu on your website gives you opportunities that simply displaying your standard menu outside your restaurant does not. It allows you to give more detailed descriptions of the dishes you serve, along with appetising photos of your food, making you a more appealing choice for customers who want an idea of what to expect before they visit you.
An online menu is also a vital tool if your restaurant serves takeout food. Consumers now want the simplicity of being able to browse menus online before making their choice. Restaurants, just like all other businesses, are having to embrace the power of ecommerce; giving people the opportunity to order online can be a great way of attracting more takeout customers.
Good Reviews are Your Best Friends
The thought of including a Review section on your website can be daunting; however, it’s highly important when it comes to promoting your restaurant. 92% of people now read online reviews of local businesses, with 67% saying they are more likely to trust a business with positive reviews. Letting people review your restaurant online means you will have all your strengths promoted to your target audience – without having to do any of the PR work yourself!
In addition, good reviews will make your restaurant more visible online, as local businesses with good reviews now rank the highest on Google. Your Google ranking matters because over 50% of people only bother looking at the first page of search results. Below this, less than 2% of the results get viewed.
Don’t be Anti Social
It’s well worth embracing social media if you want to get people talking about your restaurant. Social media offers a real opportunity for interaction between you and your guests, with people tagging themselves at your restaurant and even sharing pictures of their food. Sharing your signature dishes and special offers on Facebook and Twitter is a highly effective means of getting people engaged with your business. Once local people start sharing your posts with their friends, before you know it you’ll be the most popular restaurant in town!
Let People Know Where You Are
Including a location map on your website (and your Facebook page) is essential as people now use their smartphones for directions. If you include a map, they can simply follow it on their mobile device, so you won’t lose precious custom due to people not being able to find you!
In conclusion, if you don’t already have an online presence, you really need to start asking yourself why. Digital technology is now a fact of life for all of us, and if you’re not part of it, you can’t stay competitive. It’s time to start learning to work with it, so you can make it work for you.