Food and beverages are your greatest assets in the restaurant business, which is why having a solid menu is critical to your success. Customers want to know what you serve before they order or visit your restaurant, so a menu in HTML format on your website is essential for your marketing foundation.
Once your menu is finalized or updated (the items, not the design), it’s time to create your online and printed menus. While the following information primarily affects your online menu, you may want to consider some of the options listed for your print menus, too.
Always add your menu to your website in HTML format. This format is critical for mobile users because they do not want to download a PDF with small font, and forcing them to do so will only frustrate them. Plus, having your menu in HTML format will ensure it will be accessible to search engines, which means your customers will be able to find your restaurant by looking up the dishes you offer. Be sure to keep your menu up-to-date with seasonal and new dishes, as appropriate, to ensure it matches your printed menu within your restaurant. Any differences will confuse your customers.
Don’t be afraid to have multiple menus. Do you have breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus? It’s best to have these as separate menus on your website. Do you have seasonal, gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, children’s, and seniors options? Create spin-off menus for each of those categories so your customers can quickly scan your options based on their dietary or family needs. This also helps customers know you care about their unique needs and is seen as good customer service even before they go to your restaurant. (You may also want to consider using these in-house, too, though with a well-designed print menu, it’s not as important because you can create sections for each within your one large printed menu.)
Tip: Studies have shown that you should have your dessert menu separate from your regular menu because including it on the regular menu can actually lower how many appetizers customers order. Learn more menu tips here.
Tip: It’s important to include nutritional and ingredient information, too, as most customers want to know this information.
Tip: Never publish an unfinished menu.
Go one step beyond online reputation and further capitalize on the benefits of word of mouth marketing by developing a referral program. This can also be called a loyalty or rewards program, but whatever you call it, this program will benefit your customers and encourage them to inform their professional friends about your business and services.
A referral program largely offers discounts, free services, or another benefit in return for a number of customer referrals. For example, if you have high price services, then encourage a one-for-one referral program where if one of your customers refers one friend and they sign up for your services, give them both a discount on their next service. If you have lower-priced services, you could follow the same format but offer a discount after five referrals result in a new customer acquisition.
If your referral program is not bringing in new leads, go straight to the source and ask your customers why they haven’t taken advantage of the offer. You might find out that the benefit of the program is too difficult or maybe they just didn’t know about the program. Whatever you find out from your customers, take the feedback back to the team and modify the program to better serve your customers.
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