The Importance of Having a Great Website for Your Restaurant

I enjoy dining out. I’m not talking about Jack in the Box or any other fast food joints (man could I knock down 6 Tacos and a Bacon-Bacon Cheeseburger combo back in my high school day…damn you metabolism). I’m talking about the sit down restaurants with the ambiances of draft beer flowing, people talking amongst themselves and oh yeah, the food. Last year, my wife and I went out more than we would like to admit. This posed me to wonder how many times over the last year we got our Won Ton Soup and Spicy Chicken fix at PF Chang’s. “Enough to destroy our dining out budget” I hear my the voice of my Wife say inside my head.

People Are Eating Out Less

These days, surprisingly unrelated to any sort of New Year’s Resolution we have cut back. It probably has more to do with being a digital marketer on a budget of expecting twins this Spring. Regardless of the reason, it’s safe to say we’re done spending $40 for some food and service just out of habit.

Apparently I am not alone. According to a recent Huffington Post article, we Americans are eating out less. With the economy being the economy, restaurants are being more creative in terms of marketing. Many rely on print advertising by sending out mailers or being featured in a local coupon saver and find some success through these medias. That’s great. There is, however, one media that owners still tend to neglect and utilize improperly. Their website.

Your Restaurant’s Current Website Could Be Costing You Customers

wallads04Your website is an online representation of your business. Many times it will be the first impression a customer gets of your restaurant. More and more of us are searching Google for a place to eat. We want to see the menu, current specials, enticing photos of entrees and directions on how to get there. More than anything though, we want to be encouraged, convinced even, that your restaurant experience is worthy of our appetite and hard earned money.

Have you ever been to a restaurant where you walk inside for the first time, you look around and the place looks and feels drab? The interior decor is plain, the atmosphere is off-putting and you had to stand at the hostess station waiting to be helped longer than the run-time of the film Titanic. After a first impression like that, I’m running out the door cartoon style.

What many restaurant owners do not realize is they may be doing the exact same thing to visitors with their website. Potential first time customers now have the ability to window shop restaurants through their iPhones and home computers. If your website is drab, outdated and hard to use, that is directly reflecting your restaurant. Your potential customer is then bouncing (exiting your site) and looking elsewhere. You can have the best food and unmatched service, but to someone whose first impression came from your lacking website they would never know it.

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Which local burger joint is more likely to get the customer?

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“But My Restaurant’s Website is Fine Just the Way it is”

Sure, you’ve been in business for years and are doing just dandy. Word of mouth travels and those coupon print materials serve well. You have developed a steady stream of loyal local diners and think having a great restaurant website does not really pertain to you. In 2003 I may have agreed, however today I would advise you to reconsider. Website design DOES matter. The web has simply evolved and we are now in an age where people find you through technology. Search Engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo see millions of searches (23 Million per month according to SEO expert Mark Sprague in 2011) for the perfect restaurant. Those numbers are only going to continue to rise.

As mentioned earlier, more folks are searching for you using their mobile devices. iPhones, Androids, iPads and other tablets; you name it, we are unmistakably in the mobile era. Another astounding statistic, last year Google reported that 62% of restaurant searches were mobile on Valentine’s Day. As mobile trends have surged over the last year, that percentage is surely expected to grow for Valentine’s Day 2013. How does your restaurant’s website look on an iPhone?

It’s Time to Also Gear Towards Mobile Users

The mobile user base is becoming a giant. Just as it was once necessary to jump on the website bandwagon over a decade ago, it’s time to optimize your website for mobile. If you’re not making these enhancements, your competitors will be the ones capitalizing. I said it in my last blog post on the subject of having a good web presence:

Fundamentally, if your site looks great and functions as intended by today’s standards, it can only positively affect your bottom line. In contrast, only a sluggish, dated, ill-usable website will lead to indifferent results or even worse cost you some business.

With that said, your website has the ability to be an extremely powerful tool. One that can truly amplify your bottom line.

What’s My Next Step?

Consult with a local digital marketing agency. Consider the positives that will come from modernizing your restaurant’s web presence:

  • A website that matches the quality of your brand, food and service
  • A website that is Search Engine Friendly
  • A website that outperforms your local competitor’s
  • A website that is forward thinking and future proof
  • A website that is optimized for the ever-growing mobile user base
  • A website that positively affects your customer traffic and bottom line

Out of towners, tourists and locals, you’re competing for their business at all times. Now is the time to offer a website experience that gains their commitment to eating at your restaurant with their family, friends or colleagues.