Don’t let the headline fool you – the suggestions in this article can be applied to a wide variety of industries, not just restaurants. As for any business, you should be concerned that your Web site accurately represents who you are, what you do, the quality of your clientele, and offers the most important information in a format that’s easy to find and access. Read on, and discover how you can apply these suggestions to your own company today.
Spend the money on professional photography. As the adage goes, in the restaurant business the eyes taste first. Your photographs tell a story – at a minimum you should hire a professional to take pictures of the most important assets of your business. A good place to start is with quality photos of your location(s), inside the dining and bar areas, and of your signature dishes. Even if you’re just a no-frills, mom-and-pop restaurant, the photographs should make your potential patrons appreciate what is best about your establishment. They should feel like they’ll be eating in a comforting, warm and inviting environment – the best thing next to their own mother’s kitchen table.
Make certain that your Web site is an extension of your customer service and the eating experience. There is nothing worse than providing an online ordering option that isn’t suitably tended to by your staff – because it was never properly implemented into the restaurant’s day-to-day operations. When you change your menu, update it online as well; if your menu changes daily, then it must also change daily online.
And as a side note, here are a couple more tips about your online menu. It should be accessed on your Web site as an ordinary page – not as a PDF. PDFs take too long to load, and give the impression that you’re lazy or taking short-cuts, which could be an indication of how you’ll prepare the food. The menu items should also be accompanied by a short description of each dish – your online viewers want to know what to expect in your establishment. These descriptions (or lack thereof) can often make, or break, your first impression to potential patrons.
Your Web site should also reflect the character of your business. You can use the colors painted on your walls as inspiration for your Web site’s colors. Let your staff’s collective personality direct the tone of the written copy. And accurately portray your patronage. If you own a sports-bar, don’t let your site reflect a swanky fine-dining experience. Instead, play up the fun atmosphere and good-humored competitive nature of your bar patrons.
Be sure to feature online ordering and gift card purchasing prominently on your site. If these services are offered by your restaurant, don’t hide them – flaunt them. This isn’t as common a feature as one might think, so if you offer them, make certain your customers know about it.
You’re on your local dining Web site and Better Business Bureau, but do know about your local Convention and Visitor’s Bureau? If your restaurant is in or near a large town or city, chances are that there’s a CVB serving the public. For what’s usually a nominal membership fee, your restaurant can be added to a short list of places to eat for out-of-town visitors looking for a taste of local cuisine. There are many other benefits to belonging to a CVB, and they’re all aimed at making local businesses stand out among the crowd.
So to summarize, make certain your Web site successfully portrays your business. Think about your potential clients’ experience both with your establishment, and online – they should be nearly equal in customer service. And, check out slightly unusual membership organizations that are geared to marketing your business to the public.