Okay, so there's a lot to unpack in this one. You might be saying, "Hunter, I have a Facebook page with 10,000 likes for my pizza joint. Why would I even need a strong website?" First off, that's a good question and one that any self-respecting restaurant owner should be asking during COVID times when budgets might be tighter than normal. There are two massive reasons and they rhyme with birch and bonline mooking.
You've heard of SEO and you probably have a good understanding of it by now - in short, SEO is the simple activity of ensuring a website can be found in search engines for words and phrases relevant to what the site is offering. Understanding the definition of SEO is vital to understanding why having a good and optimized website is crucial to your restaurant's success. If you don't have that fully-optimized website, then your business is fully reliant on Google deciding to show a potential customer the facebook page of your pizza place when they search, "Best pizza in Baton Rouge."
The fact of the matter is in August of 2020 Google still seems to favor a restaurant's official website and Google listing over their Facebook and Instagram pages. In practice, this means if you have twice the Facebook followers of your competitor down the street, but they have a bangin' website that's fully optimized and takes orders and reservations online, they have a 9/10 chance of scoring that customer.
The Shift to Online Booking
Let's start this section off with some stats for you.
60% of US customers order takeout once a week
34% of US customers say they spend at least $50 per takeout/delivery order
Orders placed via smartphone and mobile apps will become a $38 billion industry by 2020.
Pizza chains reported an 18% increase in customer spend from online/mobile orders vs. phone orders (I'm talking a lot about pizza in this one...can you see where my loyalties are?)
Customers who place an online order with a restaurant will visit that restaurant 67% more frequently than those who don’t.
In large suburbs, online ordering has grown 3,868% since February 2020.
43% of restaurant professionals said they believe third-party apps interfere with the direct relationship between a restaurant and its customers.
If these stats aren't proof enough that your restaurant needs to own it's online booking/ordering process then I don't know what is! We all understand that using the big delivery guys is a necessary evil and their ~30% commission can prove worth it if you see your listing on the app as a marketing expense. However, that should not give you license to neglect your own online order-taking abilities. Use both platforms! Use UberEats and Waitr and PostMates and GrubHub. Take advantage of the customer acquisition tool it has become, but use those tools to bring those customers into your ecosystem and your website. Not only does this save your restaurant money, it allows you to own the process and create a better dining experience for them!
In short, there are several advantages of having a robust website for your restaurant in 2020 and it doesn't have to be expensive. Getting a website built for your restaurant could range anywhere from $500 for a barebones page to $5,000 if you're an upscale restaurant in Houston. The important thing to remember is that your website is incredibly important today and that importance will continue to grow for years to come.