The hospitality industry is pretty crowded. There are endless restaurants, cafes, and bars for people to choose from — it’s almost overwhelming.
So how do you stand out from all the competition out there and encourage customers to walk through your door and buy your food?
Building an online presence could be the answer. It’s a great way to engage with potential customers and show people how you’re different from other restaurants.
In this article, we’ll walk you through 4 ways to improve your restaurant’s online presence in 2023. But first, let’s look at an example from a real hospitality venue.
How can my restaurant stand out in a saturated market?
There are 42,477 restaurants in the UK in 2023, so it’s no surprise that it’s hard for businesses to stand out against the competition.
So, what’s the solution?
Having an online presence is a good start.
Take a look at Moose Coffee as an example. The American-inspired breakfast place is based in Manchester, Liverpool, and Leeds — cities that are filled with endless coffee shops, bakeries, and places to grab brunch.
To stand out from the competition and appeal to potential customers, Moose Coffee has an engaging social media presence. Their Instagram is filled with bright and colourful images of their food and drink, with a few funny captions to go with it.
The account has almost 30,000 followers, so it’s clear they’re doing something right!
What are the benefits of a strong online presence?
Take a look at some of the reasons a solid online presence can benefit your restaurant.
- Raise brand awareness. Consistent online branding is a great way to raise awareness of your brand. Think about it — when people see your brand repeatedly online, it becomes familiar. Over time, this builds trust with potential customers because they start to recognise who you are and choose you over other restaurants.
- Reach more potential customers. Having an online presence makes your business visible to a wider audience. Why? Because when potential customers search for food, they’re more likely to find you through search engines and social media.
- Build relationships with customers. When you’re active online and posting on social media, you can create meaningful connections with your online customers. Whether it’s replying to their comments on social media or responding to messages through your website, you can engage with potential customers. As a result, they start to build a relationship with your business, which can encourage them to buy from you.
4 ways to build an online presence for restaurants
Now that we know why an online presence is important, let’s look at some of the ways you can actually build a successful online presence for your restaurant.
1. Develop a social media presence
Studies show that 48% of consumers use social media to find recommendations of places to eat and drink. You want to be in the mix so that you have a chance of being found on social media, right?
Well, that means you need to get yourself on social media and start posting.
The platforms you choose are up to you. Ideally, you should be using platforms that your customers tend to use. For example, if you have a lot of 18-24 year olds in your restaurant, get yourself on Instagram or Tik Tok (the most popular platforms for that age group).
View social media as an opportunity, not a burden for your business. Photo sharing and customer posts are essentially a form of free advertising, and it creates a sense of community surrounding your restaurant.
Sure, it can take some time to create posts and publish them across different platforms — but the benefits are worth it.
Top tip 🔥 Use a scheduling platform (like Later) to plan all your social media posts at once. Let the platform upload your posts so you can focus on creating delicious food for your customers.
2. List your restaurant on Google My Business
79% of people use Google searches or maps to look for places to eat and drink. So, if you’re not listed on Google My Business, you could be missing out on a lot of potential customers.
But don’t worry. It’s easy to get yourself setup on Google My Business. Here’s how it works:
- Create a Google Business profile (you need a business profile to register yourself as a location on Google Maps).
- Sign in to Google Maps on your computer.
- Find your business location, the click ‘Add your business’
After doing this, you’ll follow some more instructions to finish setting up your business profile. You can head over to Google for a full breakdown.
After your business profile is up and running, people will be able to see your business on their maps. So, if someone searches “pizza places near me” and you’re nearby, you’ll pop-up in their Google Map search!
Top tip 🔥 Encourage customers to review your business on Google. Why? Because studies show that almost half of diners regularly check online reviews before deciding on a new restaurant. If you have reviews on your listing, you might encourage more people to dine with you!
3. Create your restaurant business website
A website is a key part of building an online presence for your restaurant. It’s the place where people will get directed from your social media accounts, your Google Maps
The first step is to think about your branding. Ask yourself this: What do you want your branding to say about your restaurant? Do you want it to be fun and exciting with bright colours and funky fonts? Or are you looking for something more upscale with muted tones and a classy vibe?
Head to our guide to establishing a brand identity to get started on the right foot.
You also need to think about user experience (UX). If your website is clean, crisp, and easy to navigate, it’ll make the experience better for potential customers. This will build trust and credibility with your restaurant, encouraging people to come along and try the food for themselves (and boosting customer loyalty in the process).
Top tip 🔥 If you’re struggling to create a website, there are plenty of simple tools (such as Wix, WordPress and Squarespace) that can help bring your brand to life.
4. Register your business on food delivery apps
Online food delivery is a great way to reach more people and expand your customer base. But in 2021, 37% of restaurant food delivery orders were made via a third-party app (like Just Eat, Deliveroo, or Uber Eats).
If you want to reach these online customers, you might want to think about joining some popular food delivery apps.
To run a successful delivery option, you might need new systems and processes in place. Will you create the same food from your dine-in menu? Do you have the space and capacity to fulfil online orders? Will you need to buy more equipment?
It can be a lot to think about. If you want to take some pressure off yourself, consider launching a virtual brand.
A virtual brand is a restaurant that only operates online. It helps you maximise your capacity, reduce food waste, and boost your income. You can find out more about how a virtual brand works in this article.
At Peckwater Brands, we help restaurant owners (just like you) launch your own virtual brands.
When you work with us, we’ll pair you up with virtual brands that work for you and your business. We take care of the menu, the logistics, the marketing — everything that’s done behind the scenes, we’ve got it. You don’t even need to hire new staff or buy new equipment to get started.
Partner with Peckwater Brands to boost your online presence
Building a solid and successful online presence takes time. But if you want to increase the number of diners in your business and build relationships with potential customers, it’s worth investing your time to get it right.
And don’t forget — if you want to reach even more customers online, get in touch with us to launch a virtual brand from your existing kitchen.