We may have just turned the corner into a new year, but many restaurateurs are expecting to still feel the economic pinch.
Rmgt offers a roundup of five websites that could help you grow sales in 2012, through various tactics. Check them out; it can’t hurt:
Almost 1,700 caterers are receiving orders via ezCater.com.
Users of the site enter their location and select from a list of nearby restaurants that offer catering services. The website lists delivery fees, the minimum order size, user reviews and ratings, and operational hours.
There is no cost or fees for restaurants to join ezCater. A restaurant faxes its menu over and ezCater begins sending over orders, taking a small commission.
Restaurants like the site, proven by its 99 percent retention rate—99 out of 100 people using the site a year ago are still using it.
“Chains and independent restaurants alike have discovered ezCater is a sure-fire way to build their catering business and grow revenue with zero up-front cost,” says Stefania Nappi Mallett, CEO and co-founder of ezCater.
“For some restaurants, we’ve become a top source for catering orders.”
Looking to expand your delivery business? Foodler launched in 2005 and is now in 41 states.
Restaurants with delivery service can sign up on the site, and those that don’t, can contract the service out to a third party.
“Customers are more and more looking to order online,” says Christian Dumontet, one of the site’s co-founders. “They get frustrated with the phone and may not have an accurate menu at home.”
His partner, co-founder John Jannotti, points out that it can also be a waste of time and effort for the restaurant to be on the phone. Online delivery orders are a lot more accurate, he points out.
Foodler also allows restaurants to boost sales at slow times by offering delivery exclusives, or to garner more customers with first-time order discounts. And an added incentive: It’s eco-friendly, with no paper menus and food delivered by scooters and bikes as much as possible.
If guests love your food they’ll likely enjoy it fresh at home, but it’s never quite the same eaten out of take-out containers. Now, thanks to new company Kit Chit, your chef can go into consumers’ homes and plan, prepare and serve the meal of their choice.
Chefs work with the hosts on anything from a dinner for two to a party for bigger groups. He or she then shops, cooks, and serves the food, and perhaps best of all, cleans up while you relax with guests!
The service is available in San Francisco and is expanding to New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, DC, and Boston in the next few months.
There’s no cost to restaurants. To be listed, chefs simply go through a process to make sure they not only have the culinary skills, but are also personable enough for as much customer interface as these jobs require.
Kit Chit takes a 10 to 20 percent commission on the catering jobs, but also helps restaurants take care of payment, and helps prepare the events.
“Chefs love it because it’s a way to get their brand into homes,” says Brendan Marshall, Kit Chit’s CEO.
According to a Pew Internet Study released last September, “56 percent of Americans rely on the Internet for information specifically on restaurants and other local businesses.”
One of the most frequently used sites for restaurant reviews—and therefore for making a decision about where to eat for dinner—is Yelp.
What’s important for business owners is responding to any bad reviews—and occasionally a good one—on Yelp to resolve issues and show that are interested in their customers.
Restaurant operators should also visit biz.yelp.com and build out their profile there, telling their brand story and uploading photos “so it looks professional and authentic,” says Luther Lowe, manager of local business outreach for Yelp
Another online delivery service, GrubHub was started in 2004 and expects most of its business to be mobile in the next five years.
In New York City alone, the service says it has relationships with 5,400 restaurants, and overall, it’s available in more than 75 cities with 200,000 eateries.
What’s different about GrubHub is that it operates in many college towns, thanks to its acquisition last year of DotMenu, which ran Campusfood.com.
GrubHub.com also shows restaurants offering pickup service.
Yes, Facebook can help you grown business. Every time a diner ‘likes’ your restaurant, all of that person’s friends receive a notification that they’ve done so. The average user, according to Facebook, has 150 friends.
What restaurants get from this is free advertising.
Encourage diners to ‘like’ you by offering an incentive such as a special offer, and have a clear tab on your website that takes consumers directly to your Facebook page.
Make your Facebook page easy to navigate and make it a one-click process to get to the menu on your website from your profile.
Also make the tab to click to get to the menu stand out. “It must be very visual,” says Dave Gonyor, CEO of That’s Biz, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. “You only get seconds with people. People have got to know what to do by looking at that image; there can’t be thinking involved.”