As the number of valid reasons for small businesses not to have a mobile app continues to decrease, it's important to ask yourself if fear or apathy is holding you back from embracing this technology. Consider the fact that smartphones and the internet are central to many people's daily lives, and it's essential for businesses to understand and adapt to their customers' behaviors. By creating a mobile app for your restaurant, you can make it easier for customers to engage with your business and reap the numerous benefits that come with it. Don't let fear or apathy prevent you from taking advantage of this opportunity.
12 Ways a Mobile App Can Boost Your Restaurant's Business
Grow your bookings
Tracking the number of customers served per day is an important metric for any restaurant, as it provides insight into popularity and sales growth. However, managing bookings can be a tedious process for both customers and restaurant owners. Customers may have difficulty securing a reservation and providing personal information, while restaurant staff must handle incoming calls and keep track of booking details.
A mobile app can streamline this process by allowing customers to make online bookings and receive push notifications as a reminder. The Capital Grille is a prime example of how a fine dining restaurant can successfully implement an online booking system through their mobile app. By offering multiple booking options and providing information on large parties and private dining, they make the process convenient and easy for customers. Another option is to use a service like OpenTable, which gives your restaurant more ways to market itself while keeping the booking process the same on all devices.
Loyalty programs are a common feature of many businesses, as they can help encourage customers to keep supporting the company. However, traditional loyalty programs often require complicated registration processes and physical cards that can be easily misplaced. A mobile app for your restaurant allows you to create a digital loyalty program that is more convenient for customers. Registration can be done directly through the app, and tracking points or visits can be done digitally as well. This eliminates the need for physical cards and makes it easier for customers to participate in the loyalty program. In addition, a digital loyalty program allows you to run multiple campaigns at once and segment your marketing lists based on customer behavior.
Moe's Southwest Grill is one restaurant that has done a good job of putting a loyalty program into their app so that customers can earn bonus points and rewards through the app.
Other restaurants, like Wa! Curry, have even created separate loyalty programs for sit-down and take-out customers to drive specific types of traffic. Overall, a mobile app is an excellent way to offer your customers a convenient and effective loyalty program.
Effective brand awareness and top-of-mind status (TOMA) are important goals for any marketing strategy, but they can be particularly challenging for small businesses and restaurants to achieve. While good service, delicious food, and attractive decor can help generate buzz and positive word-of-mouth, it's important to have a way to consistently promote recall and keep your brand top-of-mind for customers.
One way to do this is through a mobile app, which allows customers to be exposed to your brand at least once a day through the app icon on their phone. It's essential to have an eye-catching and recognizable app icon that stands out among other apps in the same category, and that is consistent with the rest of your brand. Make sure the icon is easy to identify at different sizes and against different backgrounds, and avoid using too many words that could clutter the design.
By keeping your app installed on customers' phones, you increase the chances of attaining "top-of-mind" status and establishing a lasting presence in their minds.
Have a response to every question.
Answering frequently asked questions is a common task for restaurant staff, and a mobile app can be a useful tool for providing information and addressing common customer inquiries. Instead of a traditional "Frequently Asked Questions" section, you could put relevant information in different parts of the app.
For example, you can include your trading hours and details about any days you won't be open in the app.
The booking form can include information about the maximum party size, and you can provide a link to maps for easy navigation to your restaurant. You can also include a contact number that can be easily called with a single tap, and if your menu includes options for diners with special dietary needs or allergies, you can create separate sections for these items in the app.
By putting information that is often asked for in the right places in the app, you can make it easier for customers to find what they need and make it easier on your staff to not have to answer the same questions over and over.
Smarter Take-Out Orders
Offering take-out or delivery options can be a valuable addition to a restaurant's business, but it can also lead to issues like bad connections and orders being messed up due to difficulty understanding phone orders.
A mobile app can help speed up the process of getting takeout by letting customers order online and giving restaurants an easy way to track orders and payments.
Our own study showed that 73% of takeaway owners agreed that phone lines being engaged at peak times was a significant issue for their business, and 63% of consumers questioned on the street had experienced engaged tones when calling a takeaway and had not called back.
Implementing a mobile app can help improve the customer experience and reduce the burden on restaurant staff to handle phone orders. When creating a take-out feature in your app, consider the user experience and consider allowing customers to register through the app to simplify the ordering process and collect necessary information. It's also important to have a way to handle orders placed through the app, such as sending out updates on how the order is coming along and taking care of payments and collections.
Better processing of payments
Allowing customers to pay for takeout orders through your mobile app can provide numerous benefits for both your restaurant and your customers. In addition to making the ordering process easier, it can reduce the chance that customers will order food but never pick it up, make customers happier by letting them quickly pay and leave, and get rid of the need for restaurant staff to check to see if orders have been paid for.
Implementing a mobile app can also help streamline how customers engage with your restaurant and free up resources that can be redirected to other areas of the business. By making payment part of the in-app ordering process, you can improve the overall customer experience and make it more convenient for customers to place takeout orders.
stronger, authentic visuals
Attractive, authentic photographs of your food can be a powerful way to attract customers to your restaurant. In addition to using professionally styled images on your website and mobile app, consider including a gallery of "regular" photographs in your app that show your food in a more authentic way. You can add new photos to the gallery whenever you host a special event or add new items to your menu.
These photos don't have to be professionally taken, and a bit of brightening and color enhancement can help improve their appearance. You can also encourage your customers to send you photos they take of your food and restaurant, which can be a great source of user-generated content.
For fine-dining establishments, you might want to consider inviting influential Instagrammers to dine for free in exchange for documenting their meal. This can help you get authentic, attractive photos of your food while also building buzz and attracting new customers.
Including a review feature in your mobile app can be a great way to encourage customers to use your app and help new customers find reviews of your restaurant.
While you can link directly to your restaurant's page on external review sites, having reviews accessible within your app can make it easier for customers to read and leave reviews, as well as easier for you to manage. It's important to respond to both positive and negative reviews, as this shows that you value what your customers have to say and care about their experience.
Negative reviews can often provide valuable feedback and highlight issues you may not have been aware of. Responding publicly and starting a private conversation with the reviewer can be a good way to address any issues and show that you are committed to providing a positive experience for your customers.
Improved Customer Engagement
A mobile app can greatly improve customer engagement by making it easier for customers to interact with your business. With an app, customers can place orders, make reservations, and access loyalty programs with just a few taps on their phone.
This convenience can help to create a more positive experience for customers, leading to increased engagement and loyalty. Also, a mobile app lets you talk to your customers directly through push notifications and other marketing methods, which makes the relationship even stronger.
By giving customers a way to interact with your business that is easy to use and convenient, a mobile app can greatly increase customer engagement and help your business grow.
Reach the right audience with push notifications.
Push notifications can be a powerful tool for increasing customer engagement and retention for restaurants. When used effectively, push notifications can have higher view and click-through rates than email and can increase app open and retention rates.
It's important to strike the right balance with push notifications, however, and not send too many or too few. By sending notifications to customers at specific times and places, restaurants can send them more targeted messages and increase their chances of making a sale.
By building a strong push notification strategy and using geolocation targeting, restaurants can effectively connect with their customers and encourage loyalty.
Better Marketing Return on Investment
Mobile apps have the ability to greatly improve customer engagement and loyalty for restaurants. By providing convenient features such as digital loyalty programs, user-friendly ordering and payment options, and the ability to easily access reviews and promotions, restaurants can encourage more repeat business and encourage customers to keep their app installed on their devices.
In addition, push notifications can be a cost-effective way to market to interested customers, with the added benefit of personalization and targeted messaging through geolocation targeting. Implementing a well-thought-out plan for these things can make customers happier and help a restaurant do better overall.
As a small business or restaurant, it can be challenging to stand out in a crowded market and compete with larger corporations with big marketing budgets. However, having a mobile app can give you a competitive edge and help you attract new customers. With the increasing popularity of smartphones, having a mobile app is a convenient and easy way for customers to access information about your business, place orders, and make reservations. It also allows you to stay connected with your customers, provide updates and special offers, and gather valuable feedback through in-app reviews. By making your app easy to use and useful, you can increase customer engagement and loyalty, which will bring more people to your restaurant.
A mobile app can help you get to know your customers better, make them more loyal, and make more money. With a mobile app, customers have access to your restaurant at their fingertips, making it easier for them to book tables, order takeout, make payments, and leave reviews. It also gives customers a more convenient and easy way to interact with your restaurant, which can make them happier and keep them coming back.
Additionally, a mobile app can serve as a powerful marketing tool, allowing you to send targeted push notifications and personalize your messaging to specific customer segments. In short, a mobile app can be a valuable addition to your restaurant's digital presence, helping you stand out in a crowded market and build a strong and lasting relationship with your customers.