If you have been following along for any length of time on our blog, you are aware that we have begun dangling the carrot when it comes to our newest platform rollout: SmartMenu. And to be honest, as we’ve brought you new information week after week, we’ve simultaneously taken the time to listen to the requests of our restaurant audience regarding what they would like to see SmartMenu accomplish for their business. And to be transparent, we’ve been astonished by the news that we’ve received. In a time where there’s an analytics dashboard available for every field of industry out there, little exists for the restaurant industry– if at all! Heck, I went to purchase a car recently and the sales manager chatted me up while my car was being detailed and he asked me what I did for a living. Excitedly, I began to explain about SmartMenu and how we at MenuCalc came to conceive the idea to help our restaurant colleagues while giving them insight into the minds of their leads and/or customer base. And he was astonished! Not because the technology was so amazing (which it absolutely is) but he was nearly rendered speechless at the fact that diner tracking and data analytics did not exist sooner!
Intrigued and a little concerned he leaned in and whispered to me, ” We won’t even return a call to a customer that hasn’t been filtered through our data analytics system and then proven to be worth our time.” I mean, I see why he whispered but that’s just the nature of the beast! If a customer comes to purchase something, but does not have the intention of following through, why target them again? In this guy’s case if a customer comes in with lackluster credit and can not be financed, how does that affect his business? His commission? The answer is, substantially! And so if a car dealership trusts their analytics to weed out unsatisfactory customers (or even better, target the right ones) why are we still standing by the old mantra of “the customer is always right”? Sometimes, they just aren’t. And SmartMenu is here to make that distinction.
The Digital Dining Difference
When you go to dine at a restaurant and you peruse the menu to determine what you desire to eat, all of those decisions go undocumented. The beauty of SmartMenu is it’s ability to capture all of those everyday interactions that occur within a physical restaurant location and derive valuable data that can be used to re-target those diners for repeat business.
For example: when you go to a physical location, perhaps you start off thinking you’ll have the fish with garlic quinoa but once your server has presented the specials, you experience a change of mind and decide you want the prime rib instead. You’ll like change your pairings to suit your new protein choice and you may even change your drink, depending on how much you enjoy putting your personal meal together. And there’s a simple, everyday example of a change made in the dining room. However, when one goes online, there is no server and there is the opportunity to add and remove from cart up until your credit card information has been received. To those of us in the food business, these patterns (including cuisine changes, ingredient substitutions and meal pairings) are golden nuggets of information that teach us about our target audience. And with SmartMenu in play, we can now have a record of these patterns with diner tracking and compile them into reports that can not only impact how the restauranteur communicates with it’s diner, but how the diner should be retargeted for repeat business. And it doesn’t end there.
Now that you have reports that inform you about the detailed preferences of your target diner, what if you can organize that information and assign the behavior to a specific customer? What would it mean to you to know that every Tuesday at 5:30pm Jack from Chicago orders the chicken stir fry? And at times when the chicken stir fry is on special, he will often order 2 instead of one? Knowing this information, how would you want to target Jack? Then, if you multiply this information by thousands of diners who visit your online menu on a weekly basis, what would change about how you market to them? Would you send a stir-fry promo to a woman who has a soy allergy? Probably not. Once you begin to operate from a place of diner insights, sales and marketing becomes much less of a guessing game and more of an opportunity to reach your customers in a unique way– their way.
Every restaurant customer has unique preferences, either due to their personal tastes or dietary conditions. Now nothing stands between catering to those tastes and capitalizing on them as well.