Every good restaurant has a signature dish, it is what sets you apart from other places. You surround it with other items on the menu that change with the seasons and latest trends. But the dish you are known for, what people keep coming back to remains the same.
The same can be said for your website. A restaurant website is the first link most people click on in their search results for places to dine. Social media is great for letting people know what other people think of your food, it doesn’t fully provide the value or engagement that a website can carry. In order for your website to become the “signature dish” that they keep coming back to, however, it needs to contain the following key ingredients.
Food is culture. Culture is lifestyle.
What culture and lifestyle do you want your customers to associate with you? Your restaurant’s website should introduce your customers to your story, your style and leave them craving for a bite of the real thing. Imagery is everything and only on your website can you post pictures of your creations that have been expertly composed. Snapshots posted on Instagram cannot create the same desire to taste your offerings like a professional food photographer can, even with the latest phone camera.
Your website not only needs to reflect your brand, however, it also needs to attract your favorite kind of patron. A good marketing strategy always begins with an analysis of who your target audience is – are they a family, do they love the nightlife or do they prefer to “do brunch”? Your website should not only contain your story, it should be a reflection of the customers you want to attract.
Mobile display is your best friend.
So, you know what type of customer you want to attract to your restaurant and have created a story that will appeal to them. What next? You have to make it easy for as many people to find you. According to a study undertaken by Constant Contact, 92% of consumers use their phone to search for a restaurant! It is crucial that your restaurant website is mobile friendly. For a website to be mobile friendly, it has to have all your important information in one place. What’s important – your hours, the type of food you serve, how to book a table, the dress code and most importantly, your location! It also has to be easy to navigate and whilst you might be hungry, your phone is not, so your website should not chew through a lot of data in order to load, i.e. keep the videos to a minimum.
Don’t play hide and seek.
This may be a no-brainer – but the number one reason, people visit a website is to find out the location of your restaurant. It is surprising how many restaurant websites are out there, however, they hide this information away in a little box, in small font and at the bottom of the page that you have to scroll for ages in order to see.
But, when you are hungry, your patience for searching is tiny, so it is vital that your restaurant website contains: your name, address, phone number and opening hours, at the top of your home page.
We recommend that you make it easier for Google to find you too by setting up a Google business page. A Google business page allows you to verify your location on Google maps, which means that when a new customer asks Google maps for food outlets in their area, all of your contact information, including your website and customer reviews will appear before them.
A menu is more than a list.
The second reason customers’ visit your website is your menu. Once upon a time this had to be “attached” to your website as a PDF and opened separately. Not anymore, as you can now integrate your menu directly into your website. Not only does this function give your customer a ‘one-stop shop’ experience. It also turns your menu into a powerful search engine tool that easily allows the internet algorithms to know what type of food you serve and your prices. Algorithms cannot read PDFs, which is another reason why it is time to ditch them! With the power of WordPress, once you create a menu, it only takes a couple of minutes to update, much quicker than creating a new document, turning it into a PDF and uploading it to the website. No more navigating backward to the last page because the PDF opened in a new window either.
Cater to all.
Not everyone has time to dine in these days, so if you haven’t considered it before, now is the right time to offer your patrons a choice and create a new stream of revenue. An increasing number of people want to experience restaurant-quality food at home, and it would be a shame to lose business because you only offer a dine-in experience. You don’t have to rush out and buy a delivery van though. There are several third-party delivery services available that will do this for you, including Caviar, UberEats, DoorDash and GrubHub for example.
Not sure which one to use? Check to see if your local competitor has signed up with anyone – it is an easy way to see if there is a delivery service currently active in your area. If no one in your area has signed up to a delivery service, don’t be put off, as this gives you the chance to be the trendsetter and offer something new and exciting in your area. But be quick as this particular trend is expanding exponentially, and you do not want to miss out on the introductory deals these companies may be offering in order to get a foot in your neighborhood.
Create direct contact.
The best part of having your own website is that you get to control what you communicate and when. Yes, it is important to have links to social media platforms on your website and communicate with potential and existing customers through them, but you need to show that you are the boss and that your website is the first place people should go to if they want up-to-date information about your restaurant.
You can use your website to generate leads by encouraging visitors to subscribe to updates that come directly from you. Offer them a free appetizer or a nominal discount off their next bill if they do. Once you have their emails, you now have a direct line of contact with them and can communicate, at will, new dishes, holiday or Valentine specials, or even events being sponsored by your restaurant.
Once you have these six essentials built into your website, your customer base will increase as you will have made it easier for people to find you, learn more about you, and be excited about coming into your restaurant and tasting your signature dish for themselves. Bon appetite!