Waging Restaurant Wars: How to Create a Mobile App That Boosts Revenue and Customer Loyalty

Business.com / Industry / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Restaurants thrive on loyalty, and in 2016, the best way to tap into that is through a mobile app. Learn how to drive more business inside.

Restaurants thrive on loyalty.

Sure, there are always out-of-towners passing through that stop by for a quick meal then jump right back on the highway, never to return, but the real money is in winning over locals and convincing them to order off your menu again and again.

Improving customer loyalty requires more than just good food (though that is vital, of course). You need a finely-crafted marketing and customer engagement strategy to get people to keep coming back, and having a mobile app for your restaurant is an important piece of that strategy.  

Making your advertising efforts more effective, increasing brand awareness, and improving customer relations are just a few of the many benefits associated with having a mobile app.

All those benefits have a tremendous effect on your bottom line and meeting your revenue goals.

Related Article: Marketing to the Mobile Man and the Mobile Woman

Want an app of your own, but don’t have the coding experience or budget to build something custom? Here’s what to do:

  1. Find an app builder. In your initial search, you’ll see that there are many options to choose from. There are many app builder solutions out there for small businesses that offer an excellent blend of quality and affordability and don’t require a lot of extra time to get started.

  2. Select a template, give a few directions regarding content and branding, and upload your menus and other content. The app builder will take it from there.

If you still need a little more convincing, let’s delve deeper into those aforementioned mobile app business benefits.

Direct Marketing Channel

The trouble with most marketing methods is that there’s no guarantee that what you’re paying for is going to be seen by the people who you want to see it.

Think about a TV spot: very expensive, and anyone who has a DVR will just skip right past it, and even those without a DVR will take the few minutes they get during a commercial to go to the bathroom, grab a snack, play on their phone, etc.

In others words, they’re not exactly engaged with the content you’re trying to present them with.

A mobile app provides you with a direct marketing channel to potential customers. People may not pay attention to commercials, but they do check their phone whenever they hear it make a noise.

So when you have a new menu option or some sort of sale/promotion, you can be sure that  pretty much everyone who uses your app is actually going to be aware of it.

The same cannot be said of other advertising methods (print, radio, TV, we’re looking at you).

Another aspect to consider is a concept called effective frequency, which is defined by BusinessDictionary.com as an “advertising theory that a consumer has to be exposed to an ad at least three times within a purchasing cycle (time between two consecutive purchases) to buy that product.”

We can’t knock print/radio/TV on this one. Those methods are very good at establishing effective frequency (exposure doesn’t necessarily require paying attention).

A mobile app, though, might be even better in this regard. It earns you a spot on the potential customer’s oft-used iPhone, allowing you to constantly remind them of who you are and what you do.

As much as people love their TVs, smartphones feature the screens that are seen the most nowadays.

Related Article: Back to Your Roots: How to Master Local SEO in 2016

Customer Loyalty

Another problem with traditional advertising is that everyone knows that the ads are biased. Even when you agree with an ad or find it entertaining, in the back of your head you always know the content is only there to serve the sponsor.

Your mobile app, on the other hand, allows you to engage with your best customers, to spoil and reward them so that they feel a positive connection to your brand.  

App builder solutions have built-in programs to provide your customers with coupons and giveaways using push notifications. You can also track loyalty programs directly in the app. No more need for punch cards.

One survey found that improving customer service and experience was the top driver cited by small businesses for building a mobile app. Surprise and delight your best customers with regular rewards sent directly to their pocket, and they will surely become an advocate for your brand.

Brand Definition

Your business’s brand isn’t something you can exactly quantify with a dollar amount, but little else is more essential to your restaurant’s success.

Personality is important. In the restaurant business you’re going to have to deal with a lot of competition, and if you don’t stand out from all that noise you won’t stay in business for long.

McDonalds is the place to take the kids (it’s no coincidence that they use a clown as their main mascot. Children love the simple food and the playgrounds, parents love the price), the fancy Italian joint downtown is the place to take a date.

You don’t bring a date to McDonalds or your kids to the Italian joint. Those restaurants are successful in large part because they’ve decided what kind of restaurant they want to be, and they’ve learned how to reach that demographic.

You can use your app as a statement to attract whatever demographic you’re going for.

For example, an app for some college town burger bar can use offbeat design and humor to appeal to its average customer, while a more kid-friendly establishment will opt for simple language and bright colors.

Your mobile app is an opportunity to refine your image.

Related Article: Six Reasons Your SMB Needs Its Own App

More than 200 million Americans own a smartphone. That’s nearly two-thirds of the population.  

App builder tools make it easier and more affordable than ever to get started with a mobile app, and anything that better connects you to the wide, and still expanding, smartphone-using demographic is good for business.

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