Updated: Jun 16
Whether you have one restaurant, a handful of locations, or dozens of successful national chains, you still have stiff competition for new and loyal customers — you can probably think of several rivals within half a mile of your place right now. Offering a better customer experience can help your restaurant stand out from the competition. One of the best ways your restaurant can provide an excellent experience and increase customer engagement is with a mobile app.
In addition to helping you elevate your customer experience and increase engagement, mobile apps offer many other enticing benefits. Do you want greater customer loyalty, a simpler ordering process, and a path to reach millennials? A mobile app is the key to these advantages and more.
If you're still not completely sold on the idea of a mobile app for your restaurant, let's dive into the six best reasons why every restaurant needs one.
1) Keep Customers Engaged Through Loyalty Programs
Restaurant owners know that the restaurant space is competitive. National Business Capital reports that “17% of foodservice companies close during the first year of operation, and about 50% make it to year five.” If you've made it past the 5-year mark, congratulations! But this doesn't mean you're home-free. Building repeat customers is vital for maintaining a thriving restaurant business — this is why loyalty programs are so effective.
You may have used a punch card at your favorite sandwich place to snag a free sub. The same idea applies to loyalty programs, which integrate with your restaurant's mobile app. Getting deals sent straight to your mobile phone is a more personal experience than punching a card. It makes customers feel special. With a mobile app, your loyalty program can send push notifications straight to customers' phones that mention double points deals or how close they are to a bonus. These notifications, rewards, and reminders help your restaurant stay at the top of their minds.
Starbucks is the king of loyalty programs. All their customers have to do is go to the app store and download the app, register, and start ordering and paying directly in the app. Loyal customers receive free drinks, birthday treats, and access to exclusive offers. As a result, Starbucks has almost 25 million customers in its rewards program.
2) Simplify Order Fulfillment
Taking orders by phone is a big hassle for the order taker and the customer. Someone has to be available to take the order, get it to the kitchen, and take down the credit card number or secure cash. This manual process is time consuming, and every step is a chance to make errors that irritate your customer.
Mobile apps make internal order fulfillment for your restaurant much smoother and less involved. With a restaurant ordering app, customizing orders is easy. Customers choose their food from an in-app menu, order either takeout or delivery, set up payment options like a credit card or Apple Pay, and send their order to your restaurant. Your order filler can read the order clearly, and the kitchen creates it according to the customer's specifications. The customer's food is correct and ready for pickup or delivery at the time the customer requests.
The online food ordering portion of a restaurant app is priceless — it lets customers place orders quickly and empowers your staff to deliver accurate orders.
3) Bring in More Millennials
Millennials currently make up 23% of the world’s population, and each one spends an average of $163 a month eating out. They're also likely to splurge on a nice meal out even if money's tight, which makes them compelling new customers for restaurants.
Millennials don't just prefer to use apps to order food — they expect it. If your restaurant doesn't offer a food delivery app, you're undoubtedly missing out on purchases from this huge demographic.
As digital natives, ease of use is what millennials crave. They want to look at the menu, order, and pay using their mobile device. Robust and intuitive online ordering apps like Ubereats and Grubhub have set the standard for millennials' expectations regarding their ideal restaurant ordering experience. Leveraging your mobile app for online ordering will appeal to this demographic and help increase your sales.
4) Streamline the Reservation Process
Providing a way for customers to book a table through your app can dramatically improve your reservation process. As a restaurant owner, you know that the more tables you fill, the more money you make. Creating an easy way to make reservations increases your chances of packing the house. If customers want to make a reservation and have to call your restaurant to do so, they could be put on hold or may not be able to hear (or be heard) over your busy restaurant's background noise.
Consider how easy it is for a customer to open a mobile app, look at available reservations, tap the one they want, and receive a notification of their confirmed reservation. They'll also receive reminder notifications about their reservation, so they don't forget about it. This simple process leaves the customer looking forward to their dining experience instead of worrying that their reservation will get lost or bumped.
5) Sync Menus from Mobile Apps With Kiosk Menus
Most diners want to look at the menu before they walk into an establishment. A restaurant app connects them directly to the current menu. They can see the specials and any new items in real time. If your restaurant discontinues an item, you can remove it from the app quickly and easily.
Syncing your app's menu with your kiosk system creates an even smoother customer experience. Customers can self-serve, choose their item, pay, and pick up their meal or have it delivered. The app/kiosk functionality helps increase check size and reduces customers' wait time.
6) Make Fewer Order Mistakes With Mobile Ordering
Nothing irritates a customer more than an incorrect order. Wrong entrées or sides and missing items can completely derail your customer experience.
In a manual order-taking process, every stop along the way has the potential for errors, from badly-handwritten orders to busy kitchen staff who forget an item. A mobile app greatly reduces the chances of human error. In the restaurant industry, getting an order wrong could mean losing that customer forever. Even worse, if the disgruntled diner posts about it on social media, it may cause further damage to your business.
There are fewer people involved in the ordering process with a mobile restaurant app, so there aren't as many chances for mistakes as with a manual process.
Fewer chances of making mistakes mean a higher percentage of orders come out perfect. Instead of bad social media press, your customers will be sharing glowing reviews of their dining experience.
Need more ideas to set up your restaurant? Here are 12 of the most interesting restaurants in the world.
How To Set Up a Restaurant Mobile App in 4 Easy Steps
Now that you've decided to use a mobile app to help build customer engagement and increase your business, you need to decide on a restaurant app builder. INFI's mobile app development service gets you on the right path in four quick steps: communication, design, development, and launch.
1) Communicate With Our Team of Experts
Our specialists work with you through engaging, strategic conversations to pinpoint and understand your requirements. They take your goals for the app and use them to create a plan. From there, they lay out a step-by-step timeline for completion. You'll know exactly what to expect every step of the way.
2) Customize the Design of Your App
This is the fun part! In this stage, your app starts taking shape through highly collaborative brainstorming between you and the INFI team. Your vision for the app materializes, including the layout, colors, text, and other specific offerings. The design element will prominently include your restaurant brand.
3) Develop Your Restaurant Mobile App
Moving to app development is the next task on the list. Our specialists determine where to add tools and integrations based on previous conversations with you. We aim to place them where and how they provide the best functionality.
4) Launch App and Tech Support
Finally, it's launch time. Before your app launches, our specialists will proofread and test every facet of your app and proactively address any issues. But we won't leave you stranded once your app launches — our tech support is here to provide service when you need it. Your warranty starts the day your app goes live and is active for one year, with free software repairs and 24/7 tech support.
Once your app launches, you can execute marketing campaigns and watch the downloads roll in!
Build an Engaging Restaurant Mobile App With INFI
The restaurant industry is highly competitive and has seen significant changes in the last few years. One of the biggest changes is the increase in mobile app utilization. Restaurant owners must see the value of investing in a mobile app to create customer loyalty, engage their customers, provide easier ordering, make reservations, and decrease mistakes in order fulfillment. Embracing technology and developing an app will help you reap valuable rewards like more orders, greater revenue, and a competitive edge over the competition.
At INFI, our team consists of seasoned restaurant veterans. We leverage a unique blend of technology and marketing expertise to help busy restaurants reach their full potential and stay competitive. Check out our tools and services to help busy restaurant owners build more profitable, modern businesses.