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6 Important Ways to Manage Web and Mobile Marketing for Your Restaurant

Restaurant Mobile

As a restaurant owner, you are also a marketer – getting your name out there so as many folks as possible know about your restaurant. Here are six important ways to manage your online presence and the new technologies that can help you get more bodies in the front door on a more consistent basis.

1. Be Mindful Of Social Media Topics

A recent survey of more than 1,200 restaurant customers asked what guides their choices when deciding where to dine or order takeout or delivery.

  • 83% said restaurants that treat their employees well is a factor that’s important. Highlighting your employee-of-the-month on social media or mentioning their accomplishments (graduations, marriages, new babies, etc.) is a good way to spread the word.
  • 73% indicated that support of their local community influences their restaurant choice.  When you support a local community event, take some photos and post them online.  It makes a difference.

2. Updated Directory Listings

Sometimes this can be a painstaking task, but one that’s worth it. Google search algorithms like correct, consistent information. Track all of the directories you are listed on and correct erroneous information by making the appropriate updates. Click-through rates to your restaurant’s website should improve after the information is corrected.

3. Find Out How Customers Hear About Your Restaurant

Yelp is the 800-pound gorilla of restaurant search/review, but there are others, both locally focused, as well as broader-reaching sites and apps.  Have your wait staff survey customers to identify your top three sources of referrals.  Monitor your listing information on those sites regularly, as well as any reviews that might be posted. Negative reviews need to be dealt with immediately. Respond to them if you can and report fraudulent reviews when possible. You don’t want customers, new or existing, reading negative information about your restaurant, especially if it isn’t true.

4. Link Your Social Media Sites To Your Website

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – all of them.  Make it easy for people to spread the word about new items on your menu.  Remember that certain social media sites are favored by different age groups.  Facebook is now considered an “old folks” platform.  Younger people tend to use Instagram and Twitter.  You may want to alter your message based on the platform.

5. Go Mobile to Improve Trust Among Consumers

Consumers attach to a brand faster when using a mobile device than any other device, because they can hold the device in their hands, as opposed looking at a computer screen or television.  Because consumers can “hold” the brand in their hand, they tend to trust it more (a study calls this psycho-haptic — “what I touch is real”).  This is important because 51% of all restaurant searches happen on a mobile phone, and these are people who will be ordering online or visiting your restaurant within a few hours.

6. Provide Customers Control

As reported in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, if you touch something you like, you’ll want it more. It might also explain, in terms of dollars, why online orders tend to be larger than phone-in orders. When a person can control something, they get a sense of ownership.  Research has found this to be true even on touchscreen devices, where the user has some control.  The ability to touch or interact with an image or menu item on a handheld device or tablet gives customers a sense of ownership and control.  It precipitates the thought of, “Yeah, I want to order this!” Your online ordering site should be branded to your restaurant and allow customers as much control as possible – giving them the best opportunity to order as much as possible.

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Should Social Media Be Used to Shame No-Shows?

Twitter No-ShowsHave you ever been so upset with no-show diners that you’ve wanted to shout your anger from the rooftop? Well, you’re not the only one. Some restaurants have started to slander no-show customers publicly through social media – using customers full names!

Have you heard of Red Medicine? It’s a hip Beverly Hills dining establishment serving Vietnamese cuisine, with a trendy twist. It’s an establishment that is tough to get into without a reservation and, even then, you may not be eating until 9:00PM (did I mention it’s trendy?). Recently, Red Medicine took a bold move and showed their anger for no-shows, all with the help of social media.

According to The Eater, who reached out to restaurant manager Noah Ellis about the daring posts, no-shows cost restaurants a lot of money and Ellis was at his wit’s end that weekend. He used Twitter as an outlet to express his frustrations.

Red Medicine Twitter No-Show

Ellis later explained that no-shows have always been a problem for restaurants, primarily because the situation becomes difficult when a restaurant is forced to overbook to ensure it stays filled:

“Invariably, the assholes who decide to no-show, or cancel 20 minutes before their reservation ruin restaurants for the people who make a reservation and do their best to honor it. Either restaurants are forced to overbook and make the guests (that actually showed up) wait, or they do what we do, turn away guests for some prime-time slots because they’re booked, and then have empty tables.” – Noah Ellis

He mentioned that they tried to go down the “no overbooking” route a year ago because they presumed that they would be able to recover from no-shows, but would inevitably ruin a few experiences along the way… especially when guests are waiting for more than half an hour for their table. Ellis said:

“I remember a handful of times where those guests who had to wait were celebrating something, or were a younger group who brought their parents from out of town to show them the restaurant; we felt terrible. So we made the conscious decision to eliminate the ghost tables and set our turn times to a realistic length for making reservations.”

“We tried taking a credit card with every reservation, but it hurt our business; there’s a contingent of people who just won’t put down a card, regardless of if they plan on coming or not. The ticketing systems are interesting, but we do most of our business a la carte, and I’m also not sure that we have the consistent demand to justify it. We could do walk-in only, but then if you’re celebrating a special occasion, having a meeting, or trying to have a nice night out, it sucks to not know when you’ll be able to get a table. There’s no winning.”

Ellis was at his boiling point and blew up on Twitter because he didn’t know what else to do, but what else is there to do?

According to The Evening Herald a similar situation came up with Ireland’s youngest Michelin-starred chef, Oliver Dunne. He publicly roasted customers who didn’t show-up for Mother’s Day on his Twitter account.  Need I mention that, that no-show ended up costing him over $1,300?  His tweet sounded something like this:

“To the 30 people who confirmed and no-showed today – well done. I’d say your mother is proud.”

Take a Side

With all of that said, what is your take on no-show diners – how should they be handled? Is it fair to publicly denounce them via social media?  What would be a better solution?

Time to sound off!

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