In the old days, a customer would take your paper menu out of the drawer in the kitchen and call in their order. While some customers are still old school and like to call in orders, a new age is upon us: online ordering. What once started out as a simple, primitive process, has now turned into a booming sector of business that restaurants can no longer ignore.
Online ordering has become almost as popular as dining in. If your restaurant is not using online ordering it is like slamming a virtual door in a customer’s face, chaining employees to a hectic phone line, and asking for communications problems and hold ups in the ordering process, all of which cause you to throw away potential business.
Are you hesitant to add online ordering to your website or social media because it might eat into your dine-in business? Don’t be. Generally, customers have already decided that they want takeout before choosing the restaurant, this means you are losing customers who are looking for a quick an easy way to order and pay if you do not have this service.
Customers who do order online enjoy the convenience and statistically order more than they would order over the phone. This means adding an online ordering option to your website or Facebook Page can help you to gain business, increase loyalty and streamline operations.
You don’t have to build a custom website to have online ordering. There are several third party companies that will set up your online ordering portal and even build a flashy website for you. While this might sound like a good plan for you, make sure to keep a few things in mind:
- You most likely don’t want to send your customers to a third party portal, you want it to link from your website or social media to your online menu.
- You don’t want to have to wait to get paid – some third party sites hold the money and give you a lump sum.
- You should look for a company that charges a flat fee per month rather than charging fees on each individual order.
The amount of involvement from a restaurant owner and/or manager position will vary depending on the level of integration. If you choose to make it an integral part of your operation, it will take much more time and energy than if it is something that falls to the wayside.
Choosing to actively promote online order, whether it be from word of mouth or from messages on receipts and in-restaurant signage — especially in the first months after the launch — is crucial to the success of this tool.
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