Let’s start by addressing the elephant in the room: the internet isn’t going anywhere. The world has settled into the information age, and it’s easy to get lost among the noise. If you’re hoping to ensure that your restaurant continues to stand out in the ever-growing world of online engagement, you need to carve out your own space on the internet. Your business needs a website, and it may be for reasons you’ve never considered.
Missing Business in the Digital Age
Word of mouth has always been the most successful marketing strategy. However, the modern marketing landscape means that this word spreads differently now than ever before. Spreading the word about your business these days includes having an online presence, and you need one to retain valuable business.
Even if your restaurant’s business has remained consistent without a website, you could be missing opportunities for growth. A 2019 survey found that nearly eighty percent of diners look for a web presence before dining out. The survey also found that an outdated or clunky web presence deterred over thirty percent.
The Benefits of Being Online
Having covered some drawbacks of lacking an online presence, you can flip the script to see some of the potential benefits.
- Easy To Adjust. Restaurants are unpredictable. A piece of equipment breaks, a team member has to call out unexpectedly. Bad weather hampers dinner service – whatever the emergency, it can easily interrupt the typical flow of service. With a web presence, you can set modified expectations with your guests. If a specific part of the kitchen can’t operate, a quick tweak to an online menu can temporarily remove missing items from the evening’s offerings.
- Visibility. The chances are excellent that a new customer will search for your business on Google. Whether they’re curious about your menu or looking for business information like hours or parking, having a website gives your guests easy access to the information they need. However, it will also boost awareness of your restaurant’s presence overall, as a Google search could lead a diner to move to your website, which may lead them to your front door.
- Guests Eat With Their Eyes. Your website has the potential to grow and expand significantly throughout its lifespan, and one way to build it out is with its visual components. Attractive graphic design is often appealing enough to encourage potential diners to explore your website on its own. But once you add professional food photography or a beautiful online menu (preferably one from MustHaveMenus), your guests will have a buffet of online delights to peruse as they become more excited about dining with you.
There are more benefits to a web presence than can be enumerated here, but just those listed are still massive improvements from having no website at all. But starting a website in the current climate can be a little overwhelming. The best way to get started isn’t to view this as creating a webpage but instead as building…
Your Digital Storefront
If your building’s physical space is an expression of your restaurant in the real world, your website is the same in the digital one! Don’t look at this as a webpage; treat it as a digital storefront. (For clarity, this doesn’t have to mean you’re selling something online.) When constructing your website, think about some of the services diners receive when arriving at your restaurant and transport them to a digital format. There are a few things that every restaurant website should have:
- A landing page. If your website is a digital storefront, this is your attractive exterior. The landing page is where you should lean the heaviest into your restaurant’s branding and aesthetic components. Your logo should be visible, but you should also include easy navigation to the rest of your business information. Link pages, like these at MustHaveMenus, have exploded in popularity recently due to how well they fulfill this need. They’re attractive, minimalist, easy to brand, and unambiguously take your guests where they need to go.
- Operational information. Your guests will want to know about operating hours, parking and validation, dress codes, or any other details they need to consider before joining you for dinner (or lunch, or brunch, or breakfast). If they were walking into your premises, they could ask a team member; since they’ve found their way to your website, you should ensure the information is equally easy to access.
- Your menu. The presence of a menu is one of the most essential components of a helpful restaurant website. It’s common for passers-by to duck into restaurants and ask to see a menu; your website needs to provide that access. The chance to see dish descriptions will get potential diners salivating and can be the deciding factor in booking a table.
- Reservation access. If you’ve got guests wanting to book tables, ensure you provide them with a means to do so! If you’re using an online reservation platform like Resy, OpenTable, or Tock, you can add a link to this platform so guests can book quickly and effortlessly. A website also opens the door to using online platforms like these, which can help optimize the service flow on your dining floor.
- Contact information. Not every question can be quickly answered by having a website. Guests sometimes have specific questions about allergens, large party bookings, unique accommodations, celebrations, and more. The only way for them to resolve these questions is to reach out and ask, and adding your restaurant’s contact information to the website will give them the tools they need to plan ahead.
This list covers the basics, but your website could contain even more. You could include sections on press, team bios, a page for your restaurant’s story – there’s no absolute limit. You don’t want to flood your website with pages, but your guests should feel a firm sense of your brand identity as they peruse your online space.
So Yes, Your Restaurant Needs A Website
For all the reasons enumerated above and so many more, it’s time for you to take the plunge. You need to have your business on the internet, and your guests deserve to see you shine even from a distance. MustHaveMenus offers options for link pages and online menus, so what are you waiting for? It’s time to make yourself a website. The sooner you start, the better – after all, you don’t want to get left in the past.