Why Do Restaurants Need A Website

Why Do Restaurants Need A Website

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If your wondering if your restaurant needs a website, let me help you out…yes, your restaurant absolutely needs a website! A website for your restaurant is on the same level of importance as having a menu, in fact its probably more necessary than ever.

Opening a restaurant is time consuming and expensive. As the impending opening approaches it can be tempting for restaurateurs to start cutting back on certain items to try and recoup some of their expenses and help get the doors open as soon as possible.

One of the areas new owners or managers often give little emphasis to is a website, which many view as an unnecessary expenditure, choosing instead to concentrate on getting the doors open. This takes on an added urgency, especially if costs are spiraling out of control.

Are you a prospective (or current) restaurant owner or manager? Are you wondering if your restaurant needs a website? We’re here to give you an emphatic: yes! If you want to bring new customers through your doors and build a strong foundation of repeat customers then you need a well-designed website.

Maybe you think it’s a sound decision to postpone or delay the designing of a website, but remember, websites can take some time to start performing, so starting a site sooner (rather than later) will always be the optimum plan.

But why do restaurants need a website?

How important is the website for business?

And what makes a good restaurant website?

Let’s take a look.

does my restaurant need a website

First, Why Do Restaurants Need a Website?

Websites are no longer just a page on the internet that people might visit if they are just passing time. In the world of restaurants and in any other business, a website has become the one thing standing between a potential customer and a paying one. You need to have a website so that your business is visible to as many would-be customers as possible. A well-designed, informative website will give you the chance to ‘sell’ to potential customers your food, your ambiance, and the experience of your establishment before they ever set foot inside. In fact, you want it to get them to step foot inside. This is a compelling tool for any restaurant. 

How Important Is a Website for a Restaurant?

Shopping and consumer decisions have experienced a marked change from what they were as little as 10-15 years ago. In the past, people were throwing caution to the wind when they ventured out to a restaurant for the first time.

Many newspapers carried restaurant reviews, but that only reached a small minority of diners. There were yearly restaurant review books, but tied to publishing dates and an ever changing restaurant scene, they were in many cases outdated within a short time. Perhaps someone you trust gave you a recommendation, but we all know that tastes vary greatly from person to person.

Restaurant dining could be a hit or miss experience. You can probably remember times in the not so distant past when you wondered about things such as: What if I don’t like anything on the menu? What about my allergies? Is the food any good? What are the prices?

Times have changed. With so much information online, customers can find out almost everything they need to know about a restaurant in just a few clicks and make informed decisions about where to dine.

Best way to grow your business online

A Good Website Gives You A Distinct Advantage Over Restaurants That Don’t Have A Website…Obviously!

Think about the last time you were  looking for something to eat on a day trip, long weekend, vacation, or business trip. If you’re like a lot of people you took out your phone, searched for local restaurants on Google, and then chose one based on an appealing website and consistent solid reviews. 

A restaurant, of course, is about the food. But we should also never forget that they’re in the hospitality business. The first test of any restaurant is getting people in the seats for the first time.

A well-designed website will go a long way towards creating a constant flow of new customers by attracting them to your place instead of others in the area.

A website is your vehicle for making a good first impression. Would-be customers looking at a restaurant website are a captive audience; they want to dine out and are probably already hungry.

Your Restaurant Website Can Fill The Seats

This is your chance to get them in the door, then your food, service, and ambiance can make them regulars.

What Makes a Good Restaurant Website?

You know you should have one. You know how important they are but what are the qualities of a superior restaurant website?

Well-Branded

This is not so easy to define because branding is often a feeling, how and what you want your customers to think about your restaurant. It’s about your ethos, your culture and it’s important to convey that to the public. Your personal brand is a promise to your customers – a promise of quality, consistency, competency and reliability.

If a restaurant website has pictures of well-presented food served by a waitstaff wearing black pants, white shirts, and bowties to tables with crisp white napkins and fresh flowers, then you would probably be upset if, after making a reservation, you ended up in a restaurant that looked more like a McDonalds. A well-branded website will show customers what they will experience when they dine at your restaurant. Your website should also reflect what your mission is, so a customer will be able to decide if this is a place they want to patronize. 

Your Restaurant Website Needs To Be SEO Optimized

This is not so easy to define because branding is often a feeling, how and what you want your customers to think about your restaurant. It’s about your ethos, your culture and it’s important to convey that to the public. Your personal brand is a promise to your customers – a promise of quality, consistency, competency and reliability.

If a restaurant website has pictures of well-presented food served by a waitstaff wearing black pants, white shirts, and bowties to tables with crisp white napkins and fresh flowers, then you would probably be upset if, after making a reservation, you ended up in a restaurant that looked more like a McDonalds. A well-branded website will show customers what they will experience when they dine at your restaurant. Your website should also reflect what your mission is, so a customer will be able to decide if this is a place they want to patronize. 

Getting the right pictures on your website

Mobile Friendly Is A Must

Over 60% of online searches are done on a mobile device, so it’s common sense to make your restaurant website accessible to people using mobile devices. And while many websites may appear on a mobile device, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the website is mobile-friendly. Many customers will avoid restaurants where they can’t see or read the menu from their phone.

What should a Restaurant Website Include?

Contact Information

When designing a restaurant website, you should always consider why people might be visiting. One of the most important reasons someone might visit your site is to check your location, hours or phone number. In addition to your contact page this information should be visible on all pages. You can also link your location to Google maps so directions are just a click away. Likewise, a clickable phone number that can be auto dialed is a great idea.

Menu

One of the most common reasons to visit a restaurant website is to peruse the menu. An accessible, online menu is a must. Don’t just upload a photo of your actual menu because it can be difficult for mobile users to scroll through and it’s more difficult for search engines to read. PDF menus are a no-no for a well-crafted website menu.

Instead, focus on building a well-thought-out menu page. Include prices; would-be customers are weighing a lot of options and price can be a major factor. If prices aren’t included, they can potentially leave your site. Include photos of best sellers; we all eat with our eyes. Also, be sure your menu is up to date. There’s nothing worse than a customer coming to a restaurant for the roast duck and creamy risotto and then having the waitstaff tell them that the item was on the spring menu. 

A Distinctive “About” page

An honest look into your business can drive customer traffic. Customers like a good story that rings true. Your mission, inspiration, and what you feel about your restaurant can provide the motivation for customers to seek out your place. The ‘About’ section can introduce prospective customers to your food philosophy. Do you locally source? Do you have your own herb garden in the back? Do you purchase from sustainable purveyors? Customers like stories, especially those that differentiate you from the competition in a sincere, interesting way.

Reservation Options

This can be included in multiple places on your website, but you should also have a dedicated page that’s easy to find and accessible from your homepage. You should include any policies regarding reservations, such as no shows or large party requirements. Of course you can take reservations by phone, but you should also provide an online option. While you can also use email, a third party site like Open Table can be beneficial to your guests and boost your sales. These sites allow you to confirm reservations with one click, simplifying the process and putting your customers at ease.

Also, customers use sites like Open Table to find new restaurants which can become an additional opportunity to reach new customers. Online bookings will also better organize your restaurant: no bookings are lost or forgotten in an online system. Booking online can increase the amount of customer traffic because the option is appealing for customers who do not want to talk on the phone. It will also be appreciated by customers that expect an automatic service and don’t have time to call up when your staff is in.

Online Ordering

The move to online ordering has rocketed in the last few years, and especially during the pandemic. With over 60% of customers ordering takeout at least once a week, there is a huge opportunity to increase profits. Sites like GrubHub and UberEats are popular third-party options but their commission charges can adversely affect your bottom line.Think about an online ordering system that integrates with your website to keep the money in-house. An integrated system means orders get sent directly to you and there is no need for punching in orders as they come in from a third party.

properly executed online ordering

Images

In addition to photos of food, websites for restaurants should also include images of your restaurant. These images can set the scene for future customers so they know what to expect when they step foot in your restaurant. Ideally, your website should feature pictures of both the interior and exterior of your restaurant. If the exterior is in a strip mall where you have no control or which needs some work, then concentrate on the interior.

Social Media Accounts

Your website should also link to your social media accounts…but make sure you’re keeping up with them. An account that hasn’t seen activity for months can be a warning to potential patrons that maybe you are no longer in business. Also, make sure your social media accounts are consistent with your branding and that you stay active to review sites and respond to reviews as needed. All your social media accounts should link back to your website. Your well-designed, informative website allows you to show off. All your links should open up new windows or tabs to make certain that would-be customers don’t completely exit from your website. 

Events Calendar

Not every restaurant needs this, but if you do have frequent events or rotating specials it can be helpful to include a calendar on your website. Do you have live music on certain nights? Knowing which bands/musicians are playing on which nights can be a big draw for customers. Remember to update the calendar regularly; it can be very frustrating to click on a calendar and find it hasn’t been updated for years.

what is the best event for restaurants

How Does a Restaurant Website Use Analytics?

Now let’s get into some nitty-gritty, behind the scenes functionality of your website. You need to be sure that your website is able to track some analytics. This is a web design feature that is not actually recognizable to consumers, but it’s essential for all successful restaurant websites.

You can’t keep track of how effective your website is without the use of analytic tools that can track everything from where website visitors are located to which pages get the most views.

Knowing who is visiting your website is the key to successful retargeting and social media campaigns. Did you know you can deliver a Facebook ad to every person that looked at your menu in the last 15 days? Now imagine offering all those visitors a special offer if they make a reservation by a certain date. Just think of the possibilities.

Not sure where to start? Here are a few criteria you should be tracking.

Picking the right keywords for your website

Bounce Rate – This term refers to the time that people spend on your site. The more time that people spend the better chance you have of converting them to a customer

Key Words – If you use SEO, then you will surely want to know which keywords are being searched that ultimately find your website. This can help you refine the words you use to market your restaurant. For example, if many people find your site by searching “shrimp and grits near me,” then you may want to stress your delicious shrimp and grits, even though you may have other signature dishes.

Devices – You can actually chart which kinds of devices people are using when they visit your site. Recent studies have indicated that restaurant website visitors are most likely to be using their mobile phone. Analytics can give you an insight to determine if you are productively reaching the mobile phone market, as well as charting which other operating devices your visitors are using.

The Perfect Restaurant Website Strategy

A high-quality restaurant should have a high-quality website. If your website lacks the elements that we discussed in this article, it can dissuade people from coming to try your food. It doesn’t take long for people to form an opinion. Don’t detract from your great restaurant with an inferior website. It can (and probably will) hurt your business. You want your website to be captivating and draw potential customers to your restaurant. Give them a taste of your restaurant’s ambiance and make them dream about your food before they even try it.

Designing a website for your restaurant can take a lot of time out of your already busy day and if you lack the experience it can prove extremely hard to get right. Hopefully, after reading this article, you are now aware of all the benefits of a restaurant website. Still looking to cut costs? You might think that paying less for a website (and having more money left over) is a good thing. Maybe you’ve decided to get a SquareSpace or a GoDaddy website and think that you’ve come out ahead. That may not actually be the case.

In fact, you may have just cost yourself in the long run. Any website decisions should ask one important question: which kind of website will bring me the most customers and the most overall profit? And that’s what you should be thinking about. Sometimes, if you go the least expensive route, you’re really losing in terms of potential net profit.

We’ve walked you through the critical pieces to create a well-performing website. If you’ve gotten this far, it’s probably a given that you realize the importance of having a restaurant website that is attractive, informative, and easy to use.

Can I make my own website

To bring in customers (revenue then follows) you need to think of your website as a tool that ticks all the right boxes. So take the time (and money) to find a qualified person to get it right so that your website is something you’re proud of. Taking pride in your website and making it reflect your vision will show customers that you take pride in your restaurant and value their dining experience as your top priority.

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