Jose Davila, manager of The Sub and Pizza of Amherst, located not far from the University of Massachusetts, setup a new marketing tool in 2012 - NetWaiter.
"I looked at online ordering systems for a year," said Jose. "I have a big file of all the companies I reviewed. NetWaiter made me feel very comfortable. Their system is very easy to use, very easy to make changes, and they walked me through all the steps.”
Jose reports that his average takeout ticket size prior to NetWaiter was about $11. Now his average takeout ticket ranges between $17 and $19. "The cashier, who takes orders over the phone, does two or three jobs at once," says Jose. "They don't always think to suggest an appetizer, another dish, or another topping. But NetWaiter allows me to do this."
NetWaiter has also opened up an entirely new client base for The Sub and Pizza of Amherst. Whereas they rarely received orders from delivery services catering to the college crowd, NetWaiter allowed them to expand access to that customer base. “NetWaiter has opened that market for us,” he said. “Younger people really like online ordering."
This may be a big shock, but studies reveal that only 4% of Facebook fans return to your page after visiting and liking it.
This means if your messages don’t end up in a user’s newsfeed, they probably won’t be seen. So, how do you get your Facebook posts to as many followers as possible?
Posts on a newsfeed are based on an algorithm called EdgeRank. If you do things the algorithm likes, then your posts will get in front of more people. Here's what the algorithm looks for:
Affinity: The more posts a fan likes, comments on, and shares, the more likely they will see your future updates.
Weight: Closely linked to affinity, this measures the action of each individual update. The more action an update gets, the more likely it will be shown on more newsfeeds.
Decay: If you are posting the same thing all the time, or you wait too long between posts, the algorithm starts to forget about you.
TIPS: Try to post at least once a day, and pay attention to when you post and what kind of responses you receive. Your followers may be more prone to responding at specific times. Look for patterns of high response, make posts or ask questions that elicit answers, and try to be interactive.
A popular marketing vehicle used by restaurants is the limited time offer, or LTO.
Typically, LTOs are special menu items or offerings made available for a short period, often offered in unison with a holiday or celebration of some sort. These opportunities work especially well with online ordering.
NetWaiter has assembled a list of non-holiday events that are great for online ordering LTOs:
• Do you have a local minor league baseball team, or a major league team for that matter? Offer a combination of foods for a pre-game tailgate party. You can set the offer to be available after a certain time on game day.
• The Saturday wedding special - a bag of sandwiches for the groom and groomsmen, or finger foods for the bride and her bridesmaids as they get ready.
• Do local parks offer summer evening movies or concerts? Customers can order dinner online and pick it up on the way.
NetWaiter and limited time offers - a combination that can help your bottom line. Develop your offering and use the NetWaiter Management Console to email it to your database of online customers.
Coming soon, your restaurant will have the ability to customize more specific delivery zones.
Within the NetWaiter Management Console, restaurants will be able to 'draw' and configure custom delivery areas on a map. Each delivery zone can be configured with a simple click-and-drag function to encompass the exact area in which delivery is available. As allowed now, restaurants can configure more than one delivery zone, each with its own associated settings, such as a delivery fee and an estimated delivery time. The new delivery area configurations provide restaurants in densely populated locations the ability to configure their zones more precisely.
The current delivery zone options, based on a radius, will remain available to restaurants offering delivery based strictly on distance.
You can now configure your holiday hours for the entire year.
Just in time for Easter - a new feature is now available in the Location Information section of the NetWaiter Management Console that allows restaurateurs to customize hours for annual holidays. The Holiday Hours feature allows restaurants to indicate special holiday hours or if they are closed for a particular holiday. It also allows for the creation of custom holidays throughout the year that a typical calendar might not recognize.
This new feature alleviates the need for restaurants to re-adjust their normal open/close hours each holiday. If the Holiday Hours are configured, it will automatically account for them. It’s an ideal tool to accommodate Thanksgiving or Easter, both of which have different dates each year. Do you close early on New Year’s Eve? No problem, you can configure that as well.
There is a book called The Influentials, based on the premise that “one American in ten tells the other nine how to vote, where to eat, and what to buy.”
You know Influentials. You have friends that are Influentials. You have business associates that are Influentials. You could even be an Influential. Here are some common traits of an Influential:
• They have a high profile in the community - local government leaders, those active in service clubs, high-profile businesspeople, etc.
• They have lots of friends (Facebook and real friends). They are always greeting someone, or someone is always greeting them.
• They are everywhere - the Supermarket, PTA meetings, Little League games. They just seem to be around.
• People respect their opinions, often on a wide variety of issues.
Take special care of Influentials, because they can/will spread the word about your restaurant. Here are some easy tips:
• Always make a point to speak with them, even if it’s just to say hello.
• Try giving them a complimentary sample of a new dish so they can talk it up.
• Make sure your wait staff knows who these people are (and gets their order correct).
And, of course, talk up your online ordering capabilities. A few minutes/comments can go a long way towards your bottom line.
Ask Sunny Bravin, treasurer of Baggin's Gourmet Sandwiches, about their biggest surprise since launching NetWaiter online ordering. The answer is one that would bring a smile to the face of any restaurant owner.
"New customers," she says. "We've really seen an increase. We don't know where they are coming from, especially since we are just starting to market online ordering. We suspect word of mouth might have something to do with it."
Baggin's initially saw online ordering as an efficiency tool to serve their current customers more quickly. “We wanted to decrease customers being placed on hold," she said. "If they have to wait, they will go someplace else."
Baggin's, which started in 1984, has eight stores in the Tucson, Arizona market. Seven now offer NetWaiter, and by February, all eight stores will be online.
"We've had great customer feedback," said Sunny. "Lots of people are commenting about how much they like the options online, but I think for most people it’s the convenience. They can get in and out of the store quickly. That's what they want."
Sunny says that Baggin's is planning a big marketing push for online ordering. She's looking at T-shirts, messages on their store bags, a social media push through Facebook and Twitter, and maybe even radio. "We will also be doing a big push through our employees," she said. "Already, our standard phone answer includes a message about online ordering.”
Sunny also added that she is eager to use the NetWaiter management console to market. “I knew that we were we were going to have some options for emailing customers,” said Sunny, “but I am really astonished at the level to which I can customize and track our offerings. It’s a powerful tool."
According to AIS Media, as many as 89% of potential customers visit a restaurant's website as part of their decision-making process. If your website is adorned with attractive, appetizing photos of your top-selling dishes, you greatly increase your chances of winning over customers.
NetWaiter offers clients the ability to include photos of individual menu items as well as photos for each category. We recommend all clients use these features.
Here are some tips on how to photograph items from your menu (with some ideas from Running Restaurants):
1. Get online. Check out other restaurants and their use of photography. Determine what you like and what you think would look good with your restaurant and menu. Cheesy photography can certainly turn away good customers.
2. With the NetWaiter Management Console, you can add photos as they become available. Set a goal to add 10 photos a month (or whatever amount is achievable).
3. Make sure your food is well lit, perhaps near a window with natural sunlight (but not direct sunlight). Avoid using a flash, which is often harsh and tends to show shadows.
4. Avoid blurry photographs. Try supporting the camera on a tripod or other steady surface.
Several years ago, a trade magazine in the restaurant industry released a survey on the top five complaints from takeout customers. Included, were leaky containers. It’s a big problem and one that may cost you customers.
Another undercurrent in the industry also pertains to takeout customers and takeout containers. As pointed out in a recent article from BeyondthePlate.com, more and more takeout customers are looking for restaurants that offer environmentally friendly containers. “These products contain renewable resources, and are also compostable, biodegradable, petroleum free and nontoxic,” said the article.
Taking it one step further, The Pho Bar in Berkeley, CA, uses reusable stainless steel containers called tiffins. NetWaiter worked with The Pho Bar to not only facilitate online ordering, but to develop a system to keep track of their tiffins.
If the environmental efforts at your restaurant center around reusable containers, or containers made from biodegradable or renewable resource, it’s an important point to advertise, especially on your website and via social media. Survey after survey shows that restaurants making a commitment to a greener earth get ‘points’ with customers.
It’s not too late to set your sights on the New Year. It’s also the perfect opportunity to implement online ordering, or, if you’re already using it, evaluate and refine things for 2013.
Here are some considerations:
Developing a Takeout Strategy - Takeout customers are different than other customers. They look for and expect different things. Check out our July newsletter article for some information and tips to accommodate this segment.
Mobile Ordering is the New Frontier - According to Restaurant Hospitality, up to 30% of your website traffic comes from mobile devices. That number will only climb, yet industry reports say that less than 5% of restaurants have a mobile-friendly site. Check out NetWaiter's advice for being mobile friendly.
Don’t Violate Common Takeout Sins - Online ordering is a great tool for customer convenience and control, but that doesn’t mean your restaurant isn’t screwing up somewhere else in the process. Do you violate any of the common problems associated with takeout? Check out this blog post about the most common pet peeves of takeout customers.
A recent article from RunningRestaurants.com cited some interesting facts:
Fact #1 - Most restaurant owners spend 90% of their marketing dollars in an effort to drive new traffic.
Fact #2 – Business from new customers typically represents only about 10% of a restaurant’s growth opportunity.
Essentially, the majority of growth potential for your restaurant lies with your existing customers. NetWaiter can help you cultivate those customers to become better customers.
A normal “phone-in” customer is impossible to track. NetWaiter customers, however, are tracked and their information is accessible in your NetWaiter Management Console. With that information, you can pursue several tactics to enhance your existing business. Here are just two very quick tips -
1. Launch an Email Campaign – Let customers know about special offers, upcoming events, and promotions.
TIP: Email customers who have not ordered in a while. Let them know about your newest dish or treat them to a complimentary dessert with their next order.
2. Examine your menu for items that complement each other. Sam Walton discovered people who bought milk (a low-profit item) often bought bananas too (a high-profit item). Sam’s solution: position bananas near the milk to help drive-up profits.
TIP: Find a popular low-profit meal that customers often order (your “milk”) and offer a promotion on a high-profit item if they order it with the “milk” item.
The best part of these marketing efforts - they cost nothing but the time it takes to create them. The information and tools are already available through your NetWaiter Management Console.