Posts Tagged ‘mobile apps for restaurants’

Mobile Marketing for Restaurants: Chili’s and Buffalo Wild Wings Introduce Multi-Function Apps

February 23, 2012

As I’ve discussed recently, mobile apps are starting to make headway in the food service industry. They are by no means standard practice just yet – but adoption by major chains like Chili’s and Buffalo Wild Wings might just be what makes mobile apps for restaurants standard “gear” for the future.


  • What are these two chains doing with their mobile apps?


The Buffalo Wild Wings iPad App


Buffalo Wild Wings isn’t just offering an application. The chain is following the lead of some higher-end restaurants and putting iPads at its tables.


Guests don’t just get to order form the touchscreen device. They can also use the iPad for gaming, social media (such as Facebook), entertainment and even shopping!


Early tests indicate that the iPad facilitates more efficient ordering, cuts down on order times, and improves the interaction between guests and servers.


Right now, the iPads are only available at one of the Buffalo Wild Wings locations in Toronto. If the test does well there, it may soon spread to all 300 Buffalo Wild Wings locations.


Chili’s Mobile App for Smart Phones


Casual dining giant Chili’s also has its own mobile apps – in fact you can find a Chili’s mobile app for both the Android and the iPhone. These apps are free to download, and offer guests a wide range of actions.


The Chili’s mobile app allows customers to:


  • Order via phone app. Guests can order take-out, as well as schedule dine-in meals ahead of time.
  • View the Chili’s menu. Menus are fully updated and feature all relevant specials and feature items, including its Custom Combinations and the Chili’s $20 dinner for 2.
  • Functionality available for Blackberry, Windows Phone, and others. While the mobile apps are only available for Android and Apple i-products, users with other Web-capable mobile devices can use the same online ordering technology at


Mobile apps aren’t yet standard in the industry. But widespread usage by large chains might make them so. For now, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on how apps work out for these major food service name brands.

Mobile Websites for Restaurants vs. Mobile Apps for Restaurants

February 9, 2012

While patrons still rely on traditional media like print ads, newspaper reviews, and word of mouth to guide their restaurant decisions, an increasing number are also using the Internet and their mobile devices for the same – and often in strange ways.


Mobile Usage is Growing Every Year – and Why this is Good for Restaurants


Every year, more people reach the web more of the time through mobile devices – and less through “traditional” means like laptops and personal home computers.


While this may not be a great thing for computer manufacturers, it’s great news for the food service industry. Why? Entertainment, shopping, and dining out are three things that the average smartphone user looks for when he or she is out and about.


If your restaurant is able to connect by way of mobile device, you’ll get “impulse traffic” for sure. But more importantly, you’ll get groups of friends and other medium-to-large parties who didn’t start the night with a restaurant in mind – but who now want to walk through your doors.


Should You Go for a Mobile Website or an App?


If you have to choose between the two, spend your money first on a mobile-friendly website. Mobile websites are one-size fits all for every kind of smart phone, as well as other mobile devices like tablets and touchscreen iPods.


If you want mobile apps, however, you need to build one for each operating platform. Straight out of the gate, that means you need one for Android, one for Apple (iPods, iPads, and iPhones), one for Blackberry, and one for Windows (for the up-and-coming Windows phone).


What You Should Put on Mobile Websites for Restaurants


The difference between a mobile site and a regular website can be confusing if you’re not immersed in the online world. The long and short of it is this: a mobile site is a stripped-down version of your restaurant’s regular website.


A mobile website should give your same basic information, without all the bells and whistles of your great design. You may even want to leave off some of your content, in order to keep it simple.


A mobile website should have: easy-to-find contact and location information (integration with Google Maps is a plus), phone number, booking information, and business hours.


If there’s anything else you want to add, that’s all up to you. Discounts for mobile or first-time customers are usually a good idea, but the most important thing is to make sure guests can easily find your menu – and then easily find their way through your doors!


To App or Not to App? Mobile Apps for Restaurants

February 3, 2012

Does your restaurant, bar, or other location need its own mobile app? Some consultants will tell you that it definitely does – and they can get you one for just the right price! Others will claim that it’s just a waste of money.


The truth about mobile apps is that what you need depends on various factors like your budget, your current website, and your clientele. The two most important questions you should ask yourself are: “Do I have a mobile-friendly website?” and “Who is my target audience?”


Is Your Restaurant’s Website Mobile-Friendly?


If your answer is “Yes,” then you are safe without a mobile app – but you may want to get one anyway, depending on your competition.


If your answer is “No,” then unless you have an enormous percentage of guests who have told you they’d like to order from their iPhones, Androids, or iPads/Tablets, you should first make your website mobile-friendly.


Who is Your Competition?


If you operate a restaurant that competes with someone like Chili’s (whose restaurants can now take orders via mobile apps) when it comes to target demographic or overall experience, then as much as I hate to say it, you probably need to “keep up with the joneses”.


Repeat Customers Might Use Apps More


Using an Android or iPhone app to order food at a restaurant can be a bit challenging, frustrating or potentially scary. But once customers have gotten used to ordering this way, they are more likely to think of it as fun, fast, and convenient.


It’s likely that your regulars will be the first to become comfortable with apps. So, if your most frequent or loyal customers are sporting lots of mobile devices inside of your restaurant, you may want to go for the app.


But is it Worth the Price?


Having a mobile app developed can run you anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Will it be worth it for you to have one for the Android and one for Apple devices (because you will likely need both)?


Ask yourself this: Am I likely to lose business this year if I don’t have a mobile app for my restaurant? If so, then you should get one as soon as possible.


There are other reasons you might want to use them – the novelty factor can attract more guests if you’re the only one doing this in your local market, for example. But unless you are set to lose money in the immediate future, mobile apps are optional for the time being.



Why Your Restaurant Must Go Mobile

September 22, 2011

If your restaurant wants to survive the next five years of business – much lest the next fifty – you’re going to have to take it mobile. Please understand I’m not advocating a “meals on wheels” approach. What I’m talking about is your customers’ increasing use of mobile devices.


Don’t for a second think that your customers only use their Androids and iPads to talk to each other on Facebook. Plenty of operators are marking their restaurants mobile-compatible; if you’re not, then you’re losing business.


Mobile Marketing Basics for Your Restaurant


At the basic level for your restaurant, you need a website that is mobile-compatible. You do have a website, don’t you? If you don’t – get one!


For a small price, you can hire a local Web design company or even a college student to create a mobile version of your website. A mobile version of your site will be stripped down to the basics, so that it loads into your customers’ mobile devices more quickly.


A mobile site will also make your site five to ten times easier to navigate on a mobile device! Regular websites are notoriously hard to view on smartphone screens. There are many reasons for this, but it all boils down to the fact that the Web was created for computer screens about fifteen years before the trend-setting iPhone came onto the scene.


How to Interact with Your Customers via Mobile Apps


Everybody’s got a mobile app these days. At least, they should.


Mobile apps make it convenient and fun for your customers to make to-go orders. Ordering via app can be a lot more convenient than ordering over the phone – especially when it comes to large group to-go orders. Raise your bottom line by giving your customers the power to order over app!


Get Good with Google


Have you claimed your business’s listing with Google Places yet? If you haven’t, then you should. A claimed Google Places page will help your business show up on Google Maps. So what, you ask?


Showing up on Google’s Maps or Places pages can help you get found by customers who just happen to be in the area, looking for your type of restaurant – or sometimes for ANY restaurant. Get with Google Places and you’ll bring in business you wouldn’t bring in otherwise.