Talk about a super-charged header huh? Well we’re working on some pretty big things over here at MenuCalc and we’re excited to let the cat out of the bag, especially if that means empowering our restaurant clients to connect even more with their dining community. If you are one of our dedicated restaurant clients, or even if you’ve just been following along with us on social, you probably have heard a few whispers around a new platform we’ve had in the works called “SmartMenu”. And while this goosebump-inducing idea has us on the edge of our seats, we want to break down it’s abilities in a granular way so we can all share in the goose-bumpy excitement together.
What is SmartMenu?
As a bit of a backstory, SmarMenu came out of the overwhelming desire of our restaurant clients to want to separate themselves from 3rd party platforms and begin to have a better handle on their customer engagement and marketing efforts. Their biggest frustration, in short, was once the food left the kitchen it was no longer being handled by a branded employee, but a 3rd-party delivery service that was giving the brand a bad wrap. It became glaringly obvious to us that restaurants needed to take back the reigns from third parties and begin engaging with their customers more closely. But with COVID in play, how was that possible? With that in mind, we began to come up with the idea that begins with a live feed and ends with customer engagement and retargeting. And we dubbed it SmartMenu.
Live & Interactive
Unfortunately as it stands, large parts of restaurant menus are not mobile friendly. This is especially true regarding the nutritional information pages that must be supplied by restaurant chains with 20+ locations. Interestingly enough, meeting this need is how MenuCalc go it’s start: providing the nutritional analysis to menu items so they can be displayed per FDA regulations. And while we’ve accomplished this goal along with our clients, the display of the nutritional information has become an issue. With over 80% of dining patrons completing take-out/delivery orders via mobile phone, nutritional PDF formatting is largely incompatible. But since PDF has been the status quo for so long, consumers have simply been forced to adapt. So for us, creating a smarter menu began with creating a more compatible display.
Now instead of a stagnant PDF that doesn’t work well with mobile, we’ve created an interactive PDF that has been equipped with a search capability. This new interactive file allows the user to view the file on their mobile phone and set the criteria for the nutritional components they are searching for. This mobile-compatible nutritional menu can help a customer easily find any of the top 8 allergens hidden within a restaurant menu or even search by other dietary thresholds that they would like to consider. And this smart display is all determined by the restaurant client.
But the beautiful thing about this smart display wasn’t just it’s ability to be compatible with mobile, but it’s compatibility with their MenuCalc account. MenuCalc clients that instituted SmartMenu could now update their nutritional page straight through their MenuCalc dashboard without ever needing to upload or download information. Via a live feed, a client could simply make a change to a menu recipe in their recipe database, the the recipe would automatically update on their website via the live feed to their menu.
After we established the interactive PDF, we thought it would be interesting to up the ante by creating an opportunity for restaurants to track their diner’s interactions with their menu. After years of research and feedback, the resounding consensus of the restaurant community was that they weren’t sure what their customers wanted. In short, they were flying blind. As a result they simply stuck with menu items that worked and were very cautious to offer other meal options for fear of impacting their bottom line. Enabling analytics gave our restaurant clients the upper hand. Now, instead of wondering why a dish wasn’t selling, restaurant owners could pull reports on diner interaction with a particular menu item and determine it’s viability through actual data. Talk about a game changer.
Customer Information Capture
To tie it all together, the collective thought to wrap up the SmartMenu feature set was around the ability to create customer profiles to help organize the analytics reports on an individual-user basis. And what better way to do that than by creating a email/cell phone capture with customizable text options. This slider is flexbile piece of the SmartMenu puzzle because it can present and intake information based on the parameters set by the restaurant client. And with Loyalty Programs on the rise, a customizable slider makes it easy for the restaurant client to target their diners with promotions in exchange for their contact information. Establishing this connection becomes the final link in the informational chain to turn a simple menu into a customer relationship management system (CRM) which, in turn, allows the restaurant to retarget their diners personally using the information collected during their ordering session to provide them with the promotions they want for the meals they like on a first-name basis. Now if that’s not a SmartMenu, we don’t know what is.