One of the few industries that is proven to be resilient against recession and economic failures is the restaurant business. Food is viewed as a necessity rather than an elective option, and we all need it for survival. Home cooked meals are always nice, but in today’s fast-paced life dining out can provide delicious food, a fun experience, and a convenient option for when you are on the go.
Although business is good, the restaurant industry is also saturated and there is strong competition. In 2017, there were nearly 200,000quick-service restaurants and more than 30,000 full-service businesses operating within the United States, with total food and drink sales amounting to $766 billion.
Margins after expenses can be very slim and every customer, big or small, matters to the success of your business. Finding ways to stand out from the crowd – and be noticed – can make the difference between a half-filled dining room and a full house.
Increase your local visibility
Creating a website has never been easier thanks to companies like Wix, Weebly and Squarespace, which offer drag and drop tools and attractive templates that can make your restaurant look as good as your food tastes. If you need more advanced functionality or the ability to add your own custom coding, WordPress is a time-tested content management system (CMS) that can be expanded through free or paid plugins and offers you the opportunity to write your own plugins if you need a specific functionality that isn’t already available. Because there are so many websites running on WordPress, finding a good coder for a few quick tweaks is easy.
Four of the most well-known website builders are Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, and WordPress. Pricing differs with Wix, Weebly, and WordPress all having free options, while Squarespace starts at $12 per month. All of these web builders are equipped with functional tools you can use to improve the local visibility of your restaurant. Wix is great for its customization features, Weebly for editing tools, Squarespace for its attractive designs, and WordPress for its flexible complete package.
- Make sure that your restaurant website is compatible on all device platforms.
- Consider hiring a good coder to tweak and run important codecs.
- Choose a website builder for its long-term usage rather than initial operation.
Start taking reservations from your restaurant website
Providing a great avenue for digital marketing and improving visibility, you can also use your website to take reservations, increasing food sales and business revenue. The secret of a successful online reservation is an efficient system that can handle customer data in a fast but accurate manner.
Online reservation systems like OpenTable and Resy make it easy for any restaurant to accept reservations online. Both also work on your point-of-sale and come with various features such as guest and table management. However, if you want something that can be integrated straight into your website, there are WordPress plugins like Theme of the Crop which allows direct customer reservation without the need for an additional machine or software.
For a more complete solution, there’s Marketing 4 Restaurants, which is focused not just on table reservation but also finding customers as well. They offer free marketing tools for your small business, training materials, and ability to take and book online orders all in one simple system.
- Assign an employee to handle online booking and customer reservation.
- Software and specialized systems come with a varying monthly fee so choose wisely.
- Your food products and services should be clearly visible on your website.
Make sure your food looks good as it tastes
They always say that we eat with our eyes, so professional culinary images are not the place to cut corners. Always invest in good quality photos, pictures that say how sumptuous and delicious your foods are. Make sure that customers who look at the images will feel the mouthwatering goodness of your menu items.
Use a high-resolution camera or hire a professional. Also consider lighting and framing since you want to be certain that the food is the main attraction, not the balled-up napkin someone left on the table or the water spots on the wine glass. The lightning, framing, background, angle, and shot make a huge difference between a poor image and a tastefully done photograph. Remember that you are promoting your restaurant, not your utensils or furniture, so focus on what matters most – your food.
- Post photos regularly on your social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
- Follow the required photo sizes on each platform so they’ll look good on all devices.
- Use vinyl decals such as StickerYOU to turn food photos into rolling advertisements.
Manage your online reputation
Along with popularity also comes negative comments. You cannot please everybody and bashers will always be present. We can’t watch every review site or social media platform constantly, but if not addressed immediately, negative feedback can ruin the success of your entire restaurant business. Fortunately, there are online tools specifically crafted to protect the reputation of your trade.
IFTTT, or If This Then That, is a web automation service that, although not a dedicated reputation management software, is useful for managing online reputation. By creating triggers and alerts, you can instantly reply to negative feedback, preventing further damage to your business. If you want a full-blown reputation management service to ensure total protection against negative write-ups, you can tap into the help of certain companies like reputation.com that specialize in improving business ratings.
- Always check your website and social media accounts for customer reviews and comments.
- Time is of the essence when addressing negative comments and bad feedback.
- Acknowledge your mistake and show empathy when handling customer concerns.
Manage your risks for peace of mind
Everything would be worthless without proper protection against unfortunate events and unplanned circumstances. No matter how unique and popular your restaurant is, without the right coverage, you are still at risk for certain losses that might damage the financial means of your business. Customer accidents, food spoilage, natural disasters such as fire and flood, product liability, and employment issues – these are just some of the most common liabilities that every restaurant owner faces.
Having insurance is clearly not enough, you need to identify potential gaps within your policy and make sure that everything is well covered. Getting advice from trusted companies like CoverWallet can help identify your needs while finding ways to lower your overall insurance costs. Knowledgeable and well- experienced within the restaurant business, they provide quality restaurant insurance packages without breaking the bank.
- CoverWallet is equipped with convenient platforms to instantly access your policies.
- Get your certificates whenever and wherever you need them without extra charges.
- Tailored insurance packages depending on your needs, wants, and working budget.