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Restaurants: How do you come out of the pandemic stronger?

I was speaking to a friend of mine who runs a restaurant. We discussed a lot over a virtual glass of whisky (via Google Meet) and we talked about how the restaurant industry has embarked on a major digital shift.

Those who’ll endure the pandemic and come out stronger need a website that handles this new way of running. What does that mean? It means they can’t allow themselves to keep running on that crappy site-builder driven website they built for a lifetime ago. They have to change.

Now my friend and I both love food. We are self-proclaimed foodies. And we love the experience of going out to a restaurant for a meal, or ordering in a take-away. But do you know what I don’t like? Going on a restaurant website. Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand it – the industry itself runs on pretty slim margins. My friend told me so. She said how tight things could really be.

So, if you’re running on small margins, it must be very tough to warrant spending good money on a website by a professional, when all you really want is your menu, opening hours and to list your contact details.

That being said, with everything that has gone on – restaurants have been forced to expand into digital just to survive. And unlike your self-built hunk-of-junk website, establishing a really solid online presence isn’t something you can do alone – it’s more than just the design or build. It’s the strategy that goes with it.

There are three things YOU MUST DO as a restaurant owner if you want to survive online.

1. Make it responsive.
You absolutely have to have a full responsive website. So many sites I see still don’t work on phones, they just end up with a tiny version of the desktop site and users have to pinch-zoom constantly to read menu items.

This is a must have, essential feature for your site. If you do nothing else, pay someone to make your site responsive for you.

2. Get your images right
If your food images look rubbish, who is going to want to eat there? Get a photographer in and really focus on the quality of your images for your menu. Also, you need some great photography from the inside and outside of your establishment too – don’t miss an opportunity to get this right or you’ll pay the price.

3. Diversify your offering
This means offering take-away, even if you aren’t a take-away place. This pandemic won’t go away lightly or quickly. People will go back to restaurants, but lots more people will have got used to having their favourite restaurant deliver to their door. You have to think about this carefully and pick a partner wisely. Just Eat, Foodhub etc… are great choices, but could you be taking orders online yourself, without the huge costs?

Think about how you handle your business online. It has become a bigger part of your business than I think you ever thought it might do.