Opening a new restaurant can feel a lot like a tornado, with construction dust, equipment boxes, new employees and all those permits and bills swirling around your head. It’s both a very stressful, and very exciting time, with lots of important decisions to be made—one of which involves your website.
The Flavor Plate team works closely with both new and established restaurants, and has seen many of the same issues present themselves again and again. They’ve put together a short list of proactive tips to help you through the process of planning your restaurant’s new website.
Maintain Control of Your Domain Name
Your domain name is an integral part of your business identity—your web home base, and your property. Make sure that it is purchased in your name, and that you are the administrative contact. Equally as important, be sure the username and password are selected by you, and are filed away safely with your other important business documents.
There will come a time in the future when you’ll need access to your domain name, possibly to redesign your website, or change web hosts. When that time comes, you’ll be relieved to see that it is not registered under the name of an old friend, or a former employee who has long since moved away, and inadvertently taken your domain name with them.
Maintaining control of your domain name from the beginning, is a simple task that will save you a complicated headache down the road.
Hire a Professional
Many new restaurateurs are tempted by the kind offer of a friend or acquaintance to help set up their website. This benevolent offer could actually end up leaving you with your hands tied after the site has launched. Part-time web designers are part-time because they often have other jobs. After your website launches, they’ll likely be back at their real job and you’ll be on your own. Make sure you’ve been properly trained on how to manage your website, and that you don’t have to pay someone to make edits for you. Or better yet, consider hiring a professional designer who can respond to support issues in a timely manner, or use a website solution with a subscription model that includes ongoing support and product updates.
Even if you end up relying on one of your employees to manage the website updates for you—keep yourself involved. Restaurants have notoriously high turnover, and you’ll want to be sure that more than one person knows how to manage the site at all times.
Relying on Facebook
Almost always, Facebook is the first step for new restaurants. It’s free, and it’s a great tool to help get your new business on the radar. After opening day, restaurateurs frequently get so busy managing the daily operations, that what was intended to be one facet of their online presence, ends up being their only online presence.
As a marketing tool, Facebook is too important to overlook, however, it is not important enough to be your ONLY marketing tool. Facebook’s ever-changing platform takes you and your restaurant along for a ride that is designed to meet their goals, not necessarily yours.
A dedicated restaurant website is crucial for offering important information to potential customers, conveying an established business, branding your business, and helping to maintain control over the browsing experience of your guests.
It can be tempting to sign up for every social media outlet on the market when launching a new restaurant. After all, the more social the better, right? Social activity is good, but over-committing yourself is not. Adding too many social channels, too soon, can potentially backfire. Before you get started, make sure you have the resources in place to properly manage these accounts. Without them, you could inadvertently ignore questions from customers, miss valuable feedback, or end up with a blog that is collecting dust. Neglected social channels can turn off new patrons, alienate fans, and convey an inability to manage your business. Consider adding one at a time, building up a routine and then adding new channels as your comfort level increases.
Additionally, your staff can be a great resource for helping you maintain your social outlets. For example: You can be the person responsible for creating new content, while assigning an employee the daily responsibility of responding to customer questions and comments. Just like with your website, be sure to maintain access to your social channels, so that you’re not locked out when you have staff turnover.
It would be negligent not to include the importance of mobile optimization on this list, since the mobile visitors now account for almost 50% of all restaurant website traffic. When researching options for your restaurant website be sure to ask how mobile will be addressed, and ask to see examples. You should not have to pay extra for mobile, or use a third party service that is not branded to match your site. Ideally, you’ll hear the words “responsive design,” in the explanation, and then you’ll know you’re covered.
Please visit FlavorPlate.com for more information about restaurant website solutions.