It is 2021, so every restaurant needs a website. Having a solid website makes a difference in attracting potential customers who spend lots of time online, as well as helping you stand out from the competition. A website gives you the power to enhance your brand, customer relationships, and ultimately drive sales. It is important to control what potential customers see, as your website is the only place online that you have complete ownership over.
Creating a secure and professional looking website is no longer a tedious and daunting task. There are sites for website building and hosting that allow users to use pre-built website templates and drag-and-drop features to create and edit webpages without any knowledge of coding. These sites have built in tools to optimize search engine visibility, mobile-friendly responsiveness, as well as ensure a secure experience. They also have options for orders to be placed directly on your site with certain plans and subscriptions.
If you do not have a website yet, consider these easy-to-use websites to get started:
For your location, use a clickable feature to link directly to a site like Google Maps. Include hours of operation in this section as well. It is recommended that your address and phone number are visible on every page. An extra option is to include an email to inquire about catering events or to include a link to book a reservation.
A difficult mobile site to navigate can lose you customers. Make sure your layout is not too crowded and as straight forward as possible. Features such as sticky navigation and short drop-down menus, can make it an easier mobile experience. You should not worry about this if you use a pre-made template from a hosting site.
Stay away from using PDFs or a file a customer needs to click on. PDFs are difficult to update and not so mobile friendly. Giving people no other option than to download a PDF of your menu instead of listing your menu directly on the site will turn many people away out of frustration. Include your menu as text on a page on your site (HTML based). Effective menus have clickable categories which lead to a page of dishes for that category.
According to the National Restaurant Association, 41% of adults and 55% of millennials say that the availability of online ordering makes them more likely to choose one restaurant over another. ¹ Have your “Order Online” button clear on your homepage in a color that pops. A visitor should be able to find your call-to-action button within 15 seconds of landing on your page. This button would ideally link to an interactive menu where orders can be placed. It can also link to a third-party delivery service if you choose to do so.
Give your customers a taste of what they will expect your food to be like. Include your customer favorites, such as your best selling specialty pizza pie. It is better to have a few great quality photos than many low quality ones. Which food photos got the most engagement on social media? Try to include these.
Any positive media coverage you have gotten should be present, whether it is a link to an article, video or quote from a publisher or influencer. For example, if Dave Portnoy from Barstool Sports gave your location a great review, add this information to your site. Even if the media outlet was a small local newscast, find a way to include it because it shows your reputation and position within your community.
Some restaurants choose to highlight their background in the business and their passion for the business. Is your restaurant a second or third generation business? Highlight your restaurant's path to what made it where it is today. Do you have an old photo of your days starting out? Include it here to enhance this section.
Does your website create a virtual version of the same ambiance or theme your restaurant offers? Try to use the same color palette and fonts. Mastering this will really take your website to the next level. Showing consistency on all customer touchpoints is important.
Add the social media icons somewhere at the top or bottom of your landing page which links to your active accounts. Your younger customers especially will be looking into your reputation on social media. Keep Instagram visually appealing with delicious photos of your food or behind-the-scenes shots. Use Facebook to share updates and create promotional events. All links should open up in new tabs on their browser to make sure people don’t exit from your website.
The other way around, you should always have your website URL listed under your business information on your profile. Make sure the “Order Now” button links to your online food ordering platform- whether that is built into your site or through a delivery service.
Would it make sense for you to have a page on your site with important upcoming dates? Some restaurants host events during occasions people gather for, such as a soccer or football game. You may also choose to create a meal discount around these events. Another occasion you could announce is a live performer or band you invited to perform.
Ask permission to use a review a customer submitted about you or a post they made complimenting your food or service. Look on Google, Yelp or any other platform like these to highlight your satisfied customers.
Place a form somewhere on your site to collect emails from customers wanting to stay in the know about your promotions, specials, or any other business updates. Send this group of people exclusive deals and coupons. This is an effective tool to keep your business in the top of your customers minds and ultimately get them back through your door.
1. National Restaurant Association 2021 State of the Restaurant Industry Report Jan 2021