One of the weird things about running a free restaurant booking app is that you’re going to find yourself on more restaurant websites than the average customer.
This has two main effects. Firstly, you spend a great portion of your day hungry. Second, you notice just how many restaurant websites make lots of mistakes that can put them at a disadvantage.
Your website the first experience people will have with your business. You gotta make it good.
Luckily, most of these are very easy to fix, so why not quickly run down this list and see if you can judge yourself guilty of any of these website crimes.
#1 – You’re just not paying attention
This is our general catch-all mistake for anything that could be solved in just a few seconds with a little bit of attention, or TLC, as they used to call it when I was growing up.
How long ago did you check your own website? How long ago did you click on all the links and make sure everything worked?
There are numerous things that can go wrong here. Often it’s small things, like typos in menu items, or a piece of marketing copy on the website being a template instead of information about your business. You may think that is not the end of the world, right?
But I’m sitting here thinking if they’re not checking their site, do they check their food? Do they clean thier kitchen? Do they care? It may sound facetious, but it’s not worth taking the risk, is it?
Sometimes though it’s a bigger problem. Around 10% of restaurants haven’t tested their website link from their TripAdvisor page, so their website URL will just return an error. We can normally find it again by Googling the name of the restaurant instead, but we’re an online restaurant booking company, we’re a little more interested in detective work than your customers will be.
#2 – You’re reminding your customers of the their impending doom and it’s not making them hungry
Do you know what your customers don’t like to think about when booking a restaurant?
I’ll give you a clue: Infectious disease!
Now, there’s nothing wrong with putting up a little bit of information for your customers and reassuring them of what’s going on. However, many websites now have taken what used to be nice pages and filled them with hundreds and hundreds of rules, guidelines, laws, and warnings.
Here’s the thing. Customers who are going to follow the rules already know them by now, and those who aren’t are unlikely to be reading your 500 paragraph essay.
We’ve seen restaurants go so far as to put up full, 15 page CV-19 risk assessments on their pages. These are super important and it’s ok to cover the real basics, but who is going to sit down and read your internal risk assessment? People who are that worried about Covid are not eating out.
Put up what you need and ONLY what you need. The critical stuff. You’re not Chris Witty, you’re a place people go to enjoy themselves.
#3 – You forgot to tell me basic information
Honestly, there’s not that much that you need on a restaurant website, but so many venues still manage to miss out on some fundamental basics.
Your menu should always be in your restaurant, as should your opening times and your address. You should also always include an email and a phone number. Yes, even if you have a contact form.
We’ll talk about the dangers of contact forms in another post, but one of the major ones is that they can stop working, and you may never know. Give customers as many ways to contact you as you can.
Another very helpful but common thing people miss out on is parking information. There’s a lot of nervous parkers, and they’d love to know that you’ve got a massive car park and they won’t be parallel parking before dinner.
Things like your address and contact details should be on EVERY page. That’s why god invented website footers.
#4 – Your Website hasn’t been updated since The Spice Girls were in the charts
Back 20 years ago, websites worked like this: You made a site or paid someone way too much money to make a site, and then that site never updated unless you shut down or changed management.
Nowadays you can’t afford to look at websites like that. People expect websites to provide the latest menu, at a very minimum, but you’re also missing out massively if you aren’t updating your site with offers, information, and news.
To give you an example of this, this blog post is being written around 6 weeks before the UK opens again for indoor dining, yet around 50% of UK websites we visit have massive banners, and notices and warnings telling us:
“Everything is closed so come back later”
“You can get takeaway only”
“You can use Eat-Out-To-Help-Out Offers (These ended 6 months ago)”
The other 50%? They’ve removed outdated information and they are now taking online bookings.
Guess which half is going to have the more successful opening month?
#5 – You’re expecting your customers to wait on you, not the other way around
Yes. we’re a little biased with this one but hear us out.
It’s 2021. Those annoying Millennials you hear about in the news? They’re not teenagers anymore.
They’re 40 years old now.
And they aren’t waiting for responses to vague contact forms and phone lines that are only open a few hours a night in order to book a restaurant.
They’re booking restaurants on their phones at 2 in the morning when your phone line is shut down.
They’re booking at work while their boss isn’t looking.
They’re checking the top restaurants in your area and booking the first one that confirms a booking that day without having to wait for someone to see it.
One thing they’re not doing? Waiting around.
They’re booking based on what we’re all used to with every other part of life: Ease and speed and convenience. The fact is, whatever age you are, people don’t want to wait around on someone else’s terms to confirm things.
You may think that a phone call is a more personal way of booking, but years of data about what customers do shows that the majority of those under the age of 50 find phone calls far more of an inconvenience than they do a plus.
And one great thing about online restaurant booking software like Booking Ninja? You don’t need to stop taking phone reservations, using contact forms, or having reservations sent by telegram if you like, you can use us to integrate bookings from every method into one easy-to-use system, so check us out!