Now get used to it, they aren’t going anywhere.
Take a step back for a moment. Look at the devices you use in your personal life: phone, tablet, computer, all of them? Compare that to 10 years ago. A bit of a difference isn’t it? Now let’s compare that to the way you manage your restaurant or retail company, is there a difference? How many times do you use your devices to find a business, rate a business, or purchase from a business on a mobile device or computer? There are a lot of surveys, etc, that can give you various answers, but I can tell you with a high certainty that you are more connected outside of your business than you are within it. My point is this: the consumer has vastly shifted, why hasn’t your business?
The sheer volume of check-in’s on Foursquare, mentions on Twitter, comments on Yelp, searches on Google, conversations on Facebook and many other avenues, tells a story of the shift in the way consumers are connecting with business. Forget exact shock-value metrics, we all know social is engrained in consumer behavior, and it is not slowing down. But what has changed in the way we run our small businesses to utilize and understand this? How many small business owners manage their social profiles, update the information, and ensure accuracy (I would consider this a bare-minimum approach). In my experience it is not many.
I’m not going on this rant to sell a particular social marketing management tool, just a cry for business owners to understand the need to evolve and keep in-line with consumer trends. It is an awkward conversation when I pull out my laptop, google a client’s name, and can’t find them, sometimes even a well-articulated search does not pull up a Yelp profile. The first time this happened I found it a bit humorous, and thought it was a one-off from a non-technical guy (hence hiring me). Although I find this all too often, it is engrained in the industry to focus on operations; operational focus is incredibly valuable, but the price of acquiring a new customer on the restaurant/retail level is getting cheap (free if you don’t count your time, but don’t make the mistake of considering yourself a non-cost, please?). If this new customer acquisition venue is ignored it can only hurt a business.
Brick & mortar businesses are and will forever be a major focus of mobile development companies, because they attach their mobile apps to something real, creating essentially a physical need to use the app. There will consistently be new products and services at your disposal, if you don’t understand how Yelp, Twitter, or Foursquare work this year; you’re only going to dig yourself into a bigger ditch when the next big competitors arise to the market and obtain millions of users that either are or could be your customers.
Social is the free-entry beginning to an adventure I encourage everyone to take into how technology can positively effect your business. Restaurants/retail companies have consistently been over 10 years behind the curve as it pertains to the use of digital tools in the business compared to many major industries. We are approaching a critical mass with consumers (and employees, if I dare say so), in which the frequency they use software and computers to find/research/learn about your business is so heavy that those who are not on board and understand are simply out of the game.
Oh, and don’t even get me started on the epitome that is restaurant websites. Please, embrace the world, get out of your shell, and explore. It’s fun.
Digital Restaurant Solutions