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Online Ordering - Why Local?

Many restaurants already have a website and a Facebook page, but do they really need online ordering as well? If they intend to keep up with and outlast the competition, the answer is YES. Recent investments of hundreds of millions of dollars into the online ordering industry indicate that it isn’t a fad – online ordering is here to stay. Don’t resist the inevitable!

The restaurant industry is one of the last industries to go online, and this is for several reasons:

1) Fear of the Unknown: Most restaurant owners/managers are not experts in technology – they are focused on consistently making great food and cultivating exceptional customer experiences

2) Every Restaurant is Different: The restaurant industry is fragmented – there are large chains and franchises, but there are even more locally owned restaurants that do not have the benefit of marketing departments and website developers to create interactive solutions specifically tailored to meet their needs.

3) Where to Focus: With technology, there are so many areas that need to be addressed, which one to focus on first? (website, social media, mobile apps, online ordering, rewards program, online discounting programs, online reservations, managing reviews… the list goes on)

As technology moves faster, these challenges can seem insurmountable to many restaurant owners. Many are without the time or know-how to truly implement a successful online presence. If basics such as a web page and social media even get created a comprehensive strategy is often forgotten and sites can be lacking current information. Many restaurateurs feel that they have operated successfully without utilizing technology for many years, and for this reason continue to be resistant to trying new things.

Most customers are looking to online sources to make decisions regarding purchasing decisions, including their dining options. 82% of customers go online for information about quick serves, and 66% use the internet to make their final decision (source: Google, “Online Testing Exchange Quick Serve Restaurant Survey,” 2009). As these numbers continue to grow, restaurants must not lose sight of the fact that it is more difficult to attract a new customer than to continue pleasing already loyal customers.

Of the new restaurants opened in the United States in 2011, ¾ were independent restaurants - not franchises (Source: Restaurant Resource, “Independent Restaurant Success: It’s About Perception and Attitude,” 2012). This statistic alone indicates just how many independent restaurants are out there. High numbers of locally owned restaurants have caused the industry to be fragmented, making communicating with and consolidating restaurants online a challenge.

This is where a local approach is so important. Having the best content is key to a successful site: having the most restaurants, and the best restaurants. By knowing the university, city, or town as the local site owner, OrderUp franchisees are able to better understand each restaurant and how to communicate that client to the local consumer looking to order food online.

More customers are looking to online sources to make decisions regarding their dining options. 82% of customers go online for information about quick serves, and 66% use the internet to make their final decision (source: Google, “Online Testing Exchange Quick Serve Restaurant Survey,” 2009). Restaurants must not lose sight of the fact that it is far more complicated to attract a new customer than to continue pleasing already loyal customers.

Many restaurant owners I have met resist online ordering due to fear of the unknown. Since starting work in the restaurant industry with OrderUp I have gained a new appreciation for how hard it is to run a successful restaurant. This is where we come in, and are able to excel as a local provider of online ordering. We live, work, eat and play in their cities and understand what makes them tick – meaningful relationships and tailored solutions make OrderUp’s product work for any restaurant.

Building a meaningful relationship with each restaurant and ongoing local support are important aspects to the OrderUp sales experience. We are consultative in our sales process, and it is important to us that all clients feel comfortable with our process for orders, and with an exposure package that is right for their needs.

Serving both local restaurants and large franchises at OrderUp, we work to understand each restaurant as an individual and help demonstrate to them how they can best use our product to suit their needs. There are so many different types of restaurants, so many owners with different levels of “tech-savvy”, some don’t use e-mail and some create websites just for fun – there is a place for each of them in the OrderUp family. Understanding both the restaurant and the community allows us to send large volume of orders to our clients - some as many as 187 per month from being on the site alone.

We identify tailored solutions for each client to help them best utilize our services weather that means helping to train their employees on receiving e-mail orders, setting up auto-print options, optimizing their POS area, creating Spanish/English menus for a staff with communication challenges or sitting down with delivery drivers to draw custom maps based on the neighborhoods they are comfortable delivering to. Starting the day we first walk in their door as a prospective client, we are available on the phone or in person if a question or concern arises.

In our Baltimore market, we work with a restaurant called The Grilled Cheese company - 1 out of every 10 sandwiches they make in store were ordered online. They deliver their sandwiches using bikes in the local neighborhood and we have drawn a custom delivery zone, street by street based on areas that are safe for their drivers, and to ensure the food arrives hot and up to standards. When the Baltimore Grand Prix came into town for Labor Day weekend, I was able to contact the General Manager to amend their delivery zone for the weekend because the racetrack would have made it impossible to reach some customers. Grilled Cheese and Company has also participated in our site wide promotional “Deal of the Week” in which we locally marketed a free plain grilled cheese with any delivery order. This promotion helped to drive business to the restaurant using our street team, email marketing, and social media. Having all of these tools available provides an exceptional customer experience for our restaurants, creating loyalty and exceeding expectations.

At OrderUp we sell a service: online ordering, but our service does not stop at simply sending orders. Through our advertising model, clients can also opt to improve their exposure by taking advantage of our other premium services such as events, weekly deals, targeted campaigns, e-mail marketing, and social media. We provide a mobile site to assist our customers who are ordering on the go on their phones, tablets and other devices. Our loyalty cash program helps restaurants identify and reward their best customers. We are also able to add online ordering to our client’s existing website and social media pages to streamline experiences for their staff and customers.

It is no secret that there are many online ordering providers and options available to restaurants, but OrderUp is able to better serve restaurants because we are just like them local. I have had restaurants comment that they enjoy working with our company because we “know what’s going on” and because we stop by when they need us, or just to say hi. They are our clients, but also our friends and we succeed in improving their businesses by helping transition to new technologies in a way that is comfortable for them - a recipe for success.

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