In only a few days, Chicago faces another round of indoor-dining closures right on the heels of New Mexico and Oregon dining-room closures in response to the spike in COVID-19 cases erupting throughout the United States. Restaurants that are successfully weathering the indecisive storm of state regulations are doing so by adopting technology as quickly as possible. In the previous weeks, we’ve covered the importance of going contactless and how a smarter menu could be revenue-saving. With this upcoming and potentially fatal blow to food businesses everywhere, we can’t stress enough the need to pivot. If you are waiting for a sign from the Universe to begin shifting your business model — this is it. And we’re not only the willing bearers of this important message, we’re here to help you do it. Making the switch to a Smart Menu is easier and more affordable that you think, and it can very well help you save your restaurant altogether. Instead of making 100 expensive changes, just make one cost-effective one: adopt a SmartMenu.
Operate Efficiently DURING Winter Dining-Room Closures
Just as a quick recap, a SmartMenu is an interactive menu that allows your customers to navigate your menu options and order quickly based on their preferences all while tracking these search inquiries, ingredient changes, dietary preferences and more on a per-location basis.
While some restaurants are making the effort to winterize their menus to suit outdoor dining for the upcoming colder months, only so many people will be willing to sit outside and withstand the cold. And if you’re one of the restaurants who plan on implementing an atrium-like atmosphere for your diners, it will cost you tens of thousands — per location. If that’s in your budget to do, more power to you, but you’ll still need to operate using a contactless menu. And for those who are concerned about disease exposure, a warm steamy enclosed plastic atrium sounds a lot like a petri-dish.
A safer and longer-reaching way to address disease exposure without excluding anyone from your dining audience is to optimize your online experience to maximize your carry-out and delivery efforts. A SmartMenu takes dining next-level by tracking your customers every preference and giving you the opportunity to break-free from third-party delivery apps. What if, instead of losing money on items ordered through GrubHub or UberEats, you were able to offer your customers a seamless ordering experience through your own interactive menu?
If you are having a hard time trying to conceptualize how a SmartMenu would function applied to your own online meu, we promise, it’s nothing you haven’t seen before. Ever order groceries from Instacart? And when you were navigating the menu, did you spend time scrolling until you found the eggs you were looking for or did you go to the search bar and type in “eggs” and watch as your options populated? Technologically speaking, food retail has been employing what the restaurant industry never knew they needed: a customized, unique user-experience.
Again, it’s nothing you haven’t seen in motion before. Restaurant success is built on the ability to provide an unforgettable experience for the diner, and that’s not solely based on the food that is served. It’s the ambiance, the friendliness of the waitstaff, the kindness of the hostess and the speed of delivery from order to plate. So if the restaurant industry spends millions of dollars per year to offer such a unique experience, why aren’t we putting the same effort into the online dining experience? Why are we operating our carry-out and delivery services off of a PDF document that doesn’t even format well to a mobile phone when we know the majority of online orders are placed on mobile? If the dining-room closures due to COVID-19 have taught us anything, it’s that we aren’t applying the standard of excellence that one receives when dining in-person. SmartMenu gives you the opportunity to make this shift.
A Devastating Compromise
Instead of taking the time to develop our delivery services and online user-experience, we’ve outsourced it. And we can all agree that restaurants everywhere are paying the price. Pre-COVID, third party apps like GrubHub and UberEats took the weight off restaurants to provide branded delivery. They made an online menu that looked amazing and gave the consumer the ability to search for exactly what they were craving, then directed them to a version of your menu that made it easier to order. Then began retargeting YOUR customers based on their orders from YOUR menu. But because there wasn’t a pandemic in play and revenue was good, you allowed it.
Then, they up-charged you. The cat was out of the bag come late spring when restaurants started to file complaints against these third-party giants, citing the inability to turn a profit from utilizing their services. Third parties took over your pricing, your profit margins and your branded experience. It was then that it became clear: restaurants needed to take back their menus.
But paying a developer to create a curated online experience similar to GrubHub and UberEats is costly, so most either ditched the third-parties and went solo with their pre-existing pdf’s or stuck it out to continue to maintain exposure from the third-parties to their direct demographic. But again, SmartMenu gives you the opportunity to not only take back your menu while reaching your target demographic and offering a curated experience, but at a fraction of hiring an independent development team to do it for you.
Upload and Connect
So we’ve dangled the carrot long-enough, we know. But SmartMenus go far beyond our own personal bias and into our desire to help restaurants take back their profit margins and recoup revenue lost as a result of COVID-19 and dining-room closures. We’ve made the transition from traditional menu to SmartMenu easy and cost-effective. Simply upload your menu recipes, apply your branding and begin connecting with your customer. It really is that easy.
And we haven’t even begun to mention the data-collection capabilities of this online-operations-game-changer. SmartMenu Analytics give you the opportunity to get an inside-look to see what your diner wants from your menu based on how they’re interacting with your menu items. With SmartMenus, your menu becomes the epicenter for all the data you need to make research-driven decisions about your customer base.
Don’t wait to switch to a SmartMenu. On behalf of everyone at MenuCalc, we are here to help you. We’ve seen enough restaurant doors close this year, let’s keep you running well past 2020 and for years to come by helping you put as much effort into your online experience as you do your in-person experience. Contact us about SmartMenus today.