Is Creating an App a Good Idea for Your Restaurant?



Developing an app for your eating establishment might appear to be a virtual necessity now that everyone seems to have a smartphone with them wherever they go. But as with anything else, making an app for your restaurant has its pros and its cons.

Alert Passersby to Your Deals

Thanks to modern technology, there are ways to entice people who are in the vicinity of your restaurant to come inside. Once they get close, you can automatically send them a push notification about your soup of the day or your chef’s special plate.

Reward Your Loyal Customers

You might already be offering loyalty cards that can be used whenever customers buy food from your restaurant. The problem is that these can often be lost. By contrast, people always have their smartphones close at hand, and they interact with them countless times a day.

This makes responding to push notifications and email incentives a much more relevant way to thank people for their loyalty. Furthermore, you can use alerts and email to let your customers know when they are about to reach a reward milestone, thus encouraging them to grab their next meal at your restaurant.

Make Ordering a Breeze

With mobile ordering, customers can communicate directly with your staff who are making the food and filling the requests. No longer will they need to try to decipher scribbles or understand someone’s shorthand. If your system allows for in-app payments, you don’t even need to use your portable credit card reader or worry about security.

Help Customers Make Reservations

As in the case of ordering via mobile technology, reserving a table in advance using a smartphone can save customers time and frustration. No longer will they have to wait for someone to answer the phone and contend with the possibility of being misunderstood because of loud noise coming from other diners. Plus, a confirmation email that can be imported into their phone’s calendar will help to ensure that they make it to your door at the appointed day and time.

Encourage Social Sharing

You are probably well aware of the power of sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Yelp and YouTube, and you may have already integrated them into your marketing campaign. If you develop an app for your eatery, you can also tap into those resources to encourage customers to review their dining experience.

Set a timer to send customers an alert a few minutes after they order or check out using the app, and you have a much better chance of getting accurate, instantaneous feedback. Sweeten the deal even further by rewarding them with loyalty points.

Provide Access to Your Menu

One great way to stimulate a customer’s desire to come to your restaurant is to let them see what you have to offer right on their smartphone. Letting customers read your menu while they’re on the go can give you a competitive edge over other establishments that only display menus in their window.

Make Calling Easy

One feature of your app can be a “click to call” button. It enables customers to get in touch with you without needing to look you up on Google. If you make contacting you easy and seamless, it will cut down on customer frustration and give people a better overall impression of your restaurant.

Offer Coupons

Not so long ago, people needed to carry tiny slips of paper to a store or restaurant if they wanted to redeem a coupon. Thanks to the mobile phone revolution, redeeming coupons is now as simple as customers showing servers their phone screen.

Use Visual Appeal

One of the best ways to attract people is through their eyes. With your mobile app, you can tap into customers’ primal desire for food by taking pictures of your most attractive offerings and showing them prominently on the app. If something looks so good that a customer can almost taste it, imagine how much more likely they will be to act on their craving and walk through your door.

Consider Other Options

While developing an app for your restaurant obviously has many compelling advantages, it isn’t the only way to get the word out on what you have to offer. One alternative is to develop a mobile-friendly website or make your existing one compatible with smartphones. Tasks such as digital ordering, reservations, and online payment processing for your restaurant can be accomplished just as easily via this portal.

It also does not take up space on consumers’ phones, something that is often in short supply. In fact, the average person has fewer than three restaurant apps. Therefore, you might find it to be less time-intensive and easier to simply upgrade your website and bolster your social media marketing campaign.

You have probably heard the saying, “There’s an app for that.” Indeed, the sky seems to be the limit when it comes to games and entertainment options that can be downloaded onto smartphones. As a restaurant owner, your challenge is to decide if the many advantages of an app are worth the time and expense of developing it or if you can just as easily give customers what they want via your website, email and social media marketing strategies.