I recently published an article on mobile apps for restaurants that has generated a lot interest. In the last week my Twitter account added about 25 followers (most of which are web marketing companies) and I have been contacted by about a dozen providers of mobile apps. I am currently sorting through all of their offers and I need to confess that the overwhelming majority of them are very confusing.
Restaurant owners that are considering mobile options have a ton of options and I would urge all of them to proceed with caution. The mobile app providers will most likely try and convince them that it is a simple plunge using words like "seamless integration", and scalabilty. They will undoubtedly quote data suggesting that mobile users are growing out of the woodwork and that if your current marketing strategy does not include a mobile option that you are going to miss the boat. Add in the fact that Facebook has now filed an IPO and that will heat up the landscape. Many mobile practitioners now have stars in their eyes and dreams of being the next billionaires.
In the meantime, keep working to build a "bullet-proof" brand, focus on the internals of your operation, and by all means make sure that your menu is performing the way you want it to. The National Restaurant Association is forecasting a 4% inflation rate this year following an 8% increase last year (the highest rate in over 30 years). The good news is that they estimate that business will increase this year by about 3.5%.
Here’s my bottomline for independent restaurants:
1. Build your Brand from the inside out
2. Never subordinate your brand with that of someone else
3. Never, Never, Ever Discount!