Online ordering is critical and nothing can over state the importance, particularly if you are interested in catering to the coming generations. Over the last 12-18 months, we have observed a growing number of restaurant operators who find themselves in a sticky situation. Many “Restaurant Operators do not OWN their URL”. This is a disaster and operators need to understand the importance of it, if they are remotely interested in safeguarding their brand and/or existence on the web.
First: What is a “URL”? URL stands for Uniform Resource Locater. In layman’s term, it is the web address that your customers use to order-online. Assume that your restaurant’s name is “Janes Pizza”. Then “www.janespizza.com” is the ‘URL’ you would like to secure for your restaurants. If the URL is already taken, you can create a “relevant” URL and check the availability before you jump into online ordering. “www.JanesPizzaChicago” could be a relevant URL, if your first choice is already taken. Some of the prominent companies where you can create an account and secure a URL are “www.godaddy.com” or “www.networksolutions.com”. You can get a URL from players like YAHOO and so on.
So, coming back to the issue at hand. URL is your identity on the web. It is critical that you own the URL. The cost of owning the URL is not high: $9.99/YEAR to $18.99/YEAR with various options. Increasingly restaurant owners/operators neglect this simple, but critical asset and let their portal service providers own the URL. This is a serious mistake. As your online ordering becomes successful, the portal service provider becomes the gatekeeper to the traffic coming to your site and easily hold you hostage by increasing transaction fee and/or worst case, making reasonable (and at times, unreasonable) demands to sell your URL to you. Will you let someone have an electric bill board at your storefront with no control over what goes on that billboard or who gets to see it?
So what should you do? Follow the simple steps below to save yourself with potentially innumerable headaches.
1. Create an account with one of the many “URL Registrars” (GoDaddy.com / Network Solutions.com / etc.)
2. Search for a URL that makes sense to you for your business. (All major registrars provide you with an ability to search for available URLs)
3. Buy the URL that you can use to market your restaurant.
4. Define your business to be the owner of the URL
5. Pay by credit card and have a record
6. Save the information and the payment / ownership records in a safe place.
It appears to be a simple and elementary concept, but there is a large number of restaurant operators who find themselves trapped! The same portal / web developer / web hosting providers who were scrambling for their business and willing to promise the moon, suddenly change their tune and refuse to hand over the URL. This is a serious issue with no legal remedy. If the URL is owned by the portal / web developer / hosting service provider; there is little that the restaurant owner can do.