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Why a Website Is a Restaurant Essential

In our internet-connected society, users will search online for restaurants when they are hungry, making dinner plans or planning an event. Over 89% of internet users will research a restaurant online before they visit. What this means for restaurant owners is that a website is essential in order to stay competitive. So what can a website do for your establishment?

A website gives you an opportunity to differentiate your restaurant from the rest. Online access gives you the ability to create an image for your restaurant. Even before a customer walks in the door they have an understanding of what your establishment has to offer. Design your website as a reflection of your restaurant. Using vivid images to convey the atmosphere and cuisine can draw your prospective customers into your unique dining experience. Highlighting tables of happy customers, tempting dishes and capacity seating draws in your audience and attracts them to your door. A website allows a restaurant owner to display an entire menu with ease and allows changes to effortlessly be made to keep the website fresh and continually appealing.

Basic information such as hours of operation, location, payment methods and type of cuisine can be easily made available on a website. This gives customers all the basic information they need to know to find you and lessens phone calls having to be made to your establishment.

An easy to use website that is well executed can be a reason one restaurant is chosen over another.

Having a website is an effortless way to promote specials and new menu items. Again adding mouthwatering photos of dinner specials or drink specials can entice the customer to visit. Special events can also be posted on a website such as a restaurant sponsored golf outing or an annual clambake. Offering customers an opportunity to sign up for an online newsletter will ensure they keep up to date with all your happenings and aid in customer loyalty. Gift cards are easily incorporated into a website. Offering gift cards online is an additional incentive to offer your customers especially during the holiday season and not only promotes your restaurant but attracts new customers.

Testimonials are a great way to promote your restaurant. These can be easily integrated into an online website. If you have gotten a favorable review from a local critic or publication, a website can easily be linked to the article. This will aid in building your restaurant’s credibility.

A website can replace traditional advertising that can be costly and inefficient. The price of printing ads in local publications or commercials can be quite costly. Websites can give you the same or better marketing results at a fraction of the cost. Printed material can become out of date quickly and continually updating information can be time consuming not to mention the continuing cost.  More space is also available to display all you need to convey. Local advertising also limits your reach. Information is available to online readers 24/7 and this information can be distributed literally worldwide, making all your information readily available to business travelers and tourists.

A prime advantage for a restaurant that has a website is the ability for customers to make online reservations. Most customers demand this convenience. Again, this service frees up staff to serve onsite customers by eliminating the need to respond to phone calls. With online booking a customer is able to visualize easily where there is availability for the time and day they are requesting. Customers can look at their convenience and again this eliminates the need for a phone call, saving the customer time and the restaurant. These systems carefully track all online transactions which means there are never lost reservations. As an additional service an email reminder can be sent to the customer alerting them to their booking time and date. Coupled with a mobile application a customer is able to have the capability with them at all times.

Along with the ability to make online reservations is the rising enthusiasm of customers for online ordering.  According to a study by GrubHub, an online ordering platform, businesses were able to increase their take out revenue by 30% with online availability. This however is not surprising, seeing that most people spend approximately six hours online each day. Customers are pleased with the convenience and ease of ordering. If as a restaurant you are not connected to your clientele with an online ordering system, you are missing out on potential customers who will have access to other establishments who are connected. As a restaurant owner it is a another time saving convenience. Online ordering frees up time for your restaurant staff. In addition, there is little margin for ordering errors.

For those of you who are still not convinced, consider the costs that are associated with not having a website. You will not only be missing out on the fastest growing trend in marketing but your traditional marketing costs will exceed the costs of setting up an online presence.