Going mobile has been profitable to many industries throughout the world over the past ten years during the smart phone expansion. The restaurant and foodservice industry is certainly one of those businesses reaping the benefits. Mobile websites, smart phone apps and social media have improved the relationship between restaurants and their patrons by allowing them to view their menu, compare prices, rate their service, and in some instances, make reservations. Convenience is a key product of the smart phone and tablet era, which is why mobile sites and applications have helped foodservice operations reach new customers.
Some of the guessing is left out of the decision making process of choosing a restaurant thanks to apps and mobile sites. By knowing a restaurant’s price range, its cuisine, its possible specials, its reviews and when its hours of business are, consumers know what they’re getting into with a restaurant well ahead of time. Websites, social media and mobile apps can be beneficial to bringing in a customer after their initial visit as well. It is not always easy or inexpensive to create a smart phone app or make an extravagant website. The next best thing is to feature your establishment on one of the following three websites that are all widely used and have apps available on both Android and Apple phones and tablets. These apps can help create interconnectivity between your establishment and your customers and will assist in drawing in a crowd.
Yelp was introduced in 2004 as a website aiming to be something similar to the Yellow Pages phone book (hence the name “Yelp”). It is the 31st most trafficked website on the internet in the United States according to Alexa.com, and there’s a good reason why. It provides a consumer with nearly everything they’d need to know about patronizing a business before they ever enter their doors. While it is used for a variety of business, including auto shops and dry cleaners, it is primarily utilized on its website and mobile app to check out restaurants and bars. Yelp has a number of features that make it friendly for both consumer and restaurant owner. The search engine at the top of the website and mobile app lets you search for a particular restaurant or food item with adjectives such as “cheap” or “healthy.”
On the mobile app, Yelp will determine your location and give you results right in your area. You can navigate through results by price, location, ratings, most reviewed and other features to help you make your decision. Reading in depth reviews will definitely give you an insight to a particular customer’s experience, but looking at the overall rating will give you a better gist. There are links provided to an establishment’s website or social media pages to get the latest on specials and things of that sort. User profiles are created to personalize the Yelp experience. Users can track reviews, make suggestions and upload photos to the site. If you’re in a decently populated area and usually garner a good crowd, your establishment is probably already on Yelp. If you aren’t on Yelp, just visit biz.yelp.com.
Grubhub, also founded in 2004, is a website and mobile app that specializes in finding establishments in a particular area that deliver, have pickup ordering, or have both. When going to the website or using the app, you are prompted to enter your street address and then a food item, particular restaurant or a type of cuisine you’re craving. It also uses GPS technology through the phone app to determine your exact location, making it ideal for those travelling or visiting someone in an unfamiliar location. Grubhub will feature results of your location and what you searched for. You then can filter the restaurants by rating, price, location, and delivery fee.
It is pretty easy to modify your search as there are suggestions such as “Chinese” and “pizza” right above the search bar. Navigating through a particular restaurant’s menu is fairly simple, and to add something to the cart, all you have to do is click on the item. If the item is available for both delivery and pickup, it will compare the prices of both by including any possible fee that may be incurred. You can pay by cash, credit card or PayPal. Grubhub also features a log-in to remember favorite orders for certain restaurants and to save payment information and frequent addresses. Some establishments also have a “Track Your Grub” feature that will send the customer text messages to let them know about the status of their order. Restaurant operators that want to put their establishment on Grubhub should visit http://get.grubhub.com/sales/signup.action. They operate by charging a small fee to establishments that are on their site.
Open Table is a website/app that allows customers to make a reservation without having to make a phone call. It is essentially marketed towards restaurants and bars that take reservations on a regular basis and are frequently at full capacity. On the mobile app, it will determine where you are by GPS. You can then choose the date, time, and number in your party. Open Table will then search through its list of restaurants to find one (restaurants pay a monthly fee to be included on the site) that is available during that time. You can search through restaurants as well.
Reserving a table just takes a few clicks. Customers can choose a particular time up to 15 minutes throughout the evening and can request (not always granted) things such as table location. The app and website will show if a time has already been reserved, as well. Open Table will also show overview, reviews, photos, and menus to help a customer make their dining decision. To feature your restaurant on Open Table, visit http://www.opentable.com/opentable-restaurant-management-system#/increase_bookings.