Restaurant owners and managers are always seeking innovative ways to draw new customers and retain current ones. With the advent of mobile technology and social media, it’s become easier to reach out to a much larger customer base than ever before.
Here’s why you’ll want to be using technology that can help you introduce your eatery to the masses:
- For Convenience. We mean both your convenience and your customers’ convenience. There are quite a few apps out there that can help your customers find you easily and then make a reservation, like Open Table. Having an online registration system that is connected to your computer system through a website, program, or the Cloud will make it easier for you to fill your open spots and open tables. Make sure your website has contact information both at the top and bottom of the page, and add a “Testimonials” tab and fill it with great reviews. Reviews and testimonials pages usually have the third-highest page views on a restaurant’s site, right after the home page and the menu.Offering WI-Fi is a must, and with chain restaurants like Chili’s and Applebee’s putting tablets at each table to place orders and pay bills, many owners will be thinking of other ways they can streamline their ordering system using wireless technology.
- To Keep In Touch. With mobile devices so popular (more than 40% of website views are made from a tablet or phone), some restaurants create apps that help to tether their customers to them. If you can provide some helpful or entertaining information in app form, it may be a nice way to notify your customers of upcoming specials and encourage engagement with your brand. How to get them to download it? Offer customers an instant coupon for downloading your app while they’re enjoying their meal, but be sure to provide an ongoing value to your app users.Email lists are helpful, too. Some places like to send out an email to customers that lists the weekly specials or the weekend entertainment schedules. Some owners use email to deliver special coupons to repeat customers, too. You can also use the email to get some fabulous reviews. Have a customer write a quick online review that can be used on your website or on Google Carousel, and then send them a coupon as thanks. They’re likely to return, and you now have a new review that you can publish and promote.
- To Let You Share Your Experience. After you’ve had a great meal, you probably want to tell everyone how wonderful it was. Your customers are the same way: dining out isn’t just eating a meal, it’s an event they want to commemorate. They love taking pictures of food and sharing it on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and Urbanspoon. Online reviews—whether they’re good or bad—are always a good way to connect and keep in touch with customers and everyone who is reading their appraisal of your restaurant.Social media can be a very powerful tool for telling your restaurant’s story and listening to the experiences of your customers. Embrace social media tools for your restaurant as a way to get feedback and get to know your customers a little better.
The newest way to communicate to your customers may be through technology, but it’s also highly personal (known as “high-tech, high-touch”). Before you can embrace this technology, you’ll have to learn about it so that you can determine what’s most effective for your restaurant and your customer base. From there, you can start implementing some of these ideas, or hire someone to help, because once you start, you’ll get a following—and they’ll expect frequent updates. Set a schedule and stick to it, and get ready to welcome new customers through your door.