Importance of a Good Website for Business
If your business doesn't have a website or it does have a website but it rarely gets analysed, changed or added to then this post is for you! Every businesses should have a website and some amount of effort should be put into keeping it fresh, analysing performance and ensuring it is an essential tool for your business.
A website? I don't need a website! Yes, you do. No matter what type of business you are in, unless you are fully booked every single day for your product or service then you need a website.
Putting aside very small businesses such as plumbers, electricians etc who are operating as sole traders, one of the most poorly represented business groups for websites is probably restaurants. The largest city near to me is Cambridge and there are many restaurants there that still do not have a website! In the last few years, even in tourist hot spots like Cambridge, the restaurant business has been tough and yet a cursory glance through Trip Advisor reveals many restaurants with no or very poor websites. I find it staggering particularly given that Sunday-Thursday there are hardly any restaurants that are fully booked. Do these people not know that websites can drive business?
So why have some restaurant owners in Cambridge decided either not to bother completely or to put no effort into their businesses website so as to negate its presence? I can only think of two possible reasons. They don't think they need one or they don't think they can afford one. I have more sympathy with the latter viewpoint but I think I can say that both are wrong!
Let's take each viewpoint in turn.
I don't need a website because;
"I get most of my bookings from Trip Advisor."
"I have a listing on Google with a phone number - that is good enough."
"People walk by my restaurant all the time."
"I have a Facebook page."
I would respond thus;
Many potential customers will find a restaurant on Trip Advisor and then go to the restaurant's website to look at its menus to see if the food suits them, look at images to see if it looks suitable for what they want and to get an overall feel for if the restaurant is they type of place that they and their party will enjoy. Can't do that very well from Trip Advisor.
A listing on Google for the same reasons above won't sell your restaurant!
People indeed may walk past your restaurant all the time but as I've said unless you are fully booked 24/7 you need more than that.
You may have a Facebook page but there are two (BIG) problems with this. One, is that you are limited to the Facebook template for presentation which will limit what you can do and, two, you won't be able to present your restaurant in Google search results how you would wish (as well as probably being further down the results list)
Other things to consider if you don't have a website or any other software/tech.
If you don't allow people to reserve a table online, you will be losing business.
If you get a lot of business from Trip Advisor then you will be paying their fees forever. You have no way of building a database of customers who you can then retain in other ways.
If you don't market to your customer base, how do you fill the quieter periods? You can try to do this via social media but there is no substitute in my view for a more rounded approach using social media, email and landing pages on your website.
The second possible viewpoint (if you can still remember!) was that the business could not afford a website. It is a shame that people feel like this. A restaurant only needs a 4-6 page website to begin with and this should not cost more than say, £500. Yes, the website needs to have the basics right and yes, you will need to invest time into it afterwards but this investment should easily last for a couple of years before needing more. Even if the website costs £1,000 then that is £40 per month for 24 months. The margin on a decent meal! So one extra table per month from your website will pay for the development cost. Two extra and you're quids in!
On that basis I would say you can't afford not to have a website.
If we agree that restaurants are among the most visible businesses there are and also that the transacting side of a booking is very simple (i.e. can easily be done on the phone) and yet we can show that they still need a website then we can safely say more complex, less visible businesses definitely need one!
Bear in mind, that if you have a website and it is not set up properly and/or you never change it or look at it, then that may not be much better than not having a website and hence all the above still applies!
So get a website and get help if you need to. Or if you have one then start working on it! Feel free to comment or ask questions below and if you think Digital Mentor can help your business then you can find subscription details here.