This is 2015, which means that any restaurant of any size in any location needs a website. So why do some local restaurants still think it’s cool to skip having a web presence? Here are the most common reasons that restaurant owners cite for not having a website:
Sufficient Historical Popularity
There are local restaurants that have been around forever and have been really popular for many years. Their owners sometimes falsely believe that this popularity will continue to carry them, eliminating the need to create and maintain a website. However, riding the wave of popularity and hoping for the best is a dangerous game these days. Missing out on the opportunity to put your restaurant in front of tons of potential customers is a huge mistake. Consumers are more fickle than ever before because they have more options and more information to help them decide where to spend their hard-earned money. Popularity can be fleeting and failure to modernize can cost a restaurant its future moving forward.
Part of Their Shtick
Some restaurants consciously ignore the need for a website because they want to be kitschy or quirky. They view having a website as going against their shtick because they want to be old timey or mysterious. However, the problem with that is that while local residents and travelers may have heard of your restaurant via word of mouth, they’re much less likely to visit if you don’t have a website.
The reason people shy away from restaurants that don’t have websites is because a website contains valuable information that people need in order to visit: hours, location, menu details, prices, reservation requirements, etc. Having heard that a restaurant is good doesn’t mean much if you can’t be sure where the restaurant is exactly or whether it’ll even be open when you get there.
Other Websites Will Pick Up The Slack
With the popularity of restaurant review sites (Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato, etc.) and local restaurant apps (Open Table, Foursquare, etc.), some restaurant owners just assume other websites will contain the information that patrons want to know, making a separate website unnecessary.
The problem with letting other websites pick up the slack is that the information that they have can be unreliable. Anyone (even a competitor) can go online and announce that a restaurant is changing their hours, prices, or menu and people may act on this information. Additionally, counting on searchers to find what they need to know on a review site can deter them from trying your restaurant if they happen to read a negative review while they’re there. Again, these reviews can say anything – they can be from disgruntled former employees, competitors, ex-girlfriends or boyfriends, or ornery neighbors. This is why you should always take control of owning your own reputation by providing information to your audience directly.
Small Geographic Service Area
Some restaurants are located in small towns and only cover limited service areas. Their owners often contend that the internet is meant for businesses that want a wide reach across a broad audience, which is why they can’t justify the cost of a website. The reality though is that no matter how small a town is, the restaurants there still need websites because people have better things to do than memorize your hours or menu. Additionally, people may be looking for someplace to eat as they pass through the area, or residents from a few towns over and might want to try something new. A website will put your restaurant in front of these people.
Helpful Restaurant Website Tips:
- A website really isn’t expensive – domain names and hosting are both cheap!
- You don’t need an elaborate design! You can use a free template and keep it basic.
- At a minimum you need provide your address, phone number, hours, and menu.
- Including prices on your menu is absolutely essential if you have a takeout restaurant and strongly suggested for all other restaurants.
- Avoid annoying visitors with outdated elements like flashing/moving text, music, clip art, etc.
Now that you know why you need a website and have some pointers on how to create one, get out there and build your web presence! Once you have a website, reach out to us if you need help with local advertising or online marketing optimization!
Kate Pierce is the owner of LionShark Digital Marketing LLC, a West Michigan internet marketing company. Her areas of expertise include Paid Search, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media, Web Consulting for small businesses, Copywriting and Local Online Marketing. She lives in the Grand Rapids area with her husband and enjoys cooking, watching sports and spending time outdoors. Like a true digital marketing expert (i.e. geek), she loves talking about marketing theory and SEM trends… so don’t say you weren’t warned!