Apps for Restaurants: Does Your Restaurant Need One?

Chris Rumpf

Founder and CEO, 15+ Years of Restaurant Technology Innovation

Apps For Restaurants: Does Your Restaurant Need One?

The idea of having an app excites many restaurant owners but what can it actually do for your business? Will spending money on having an app developed for your restaurant actually pay off? Do apps for restaurants make financial sense? The data suggests it does and in this post, we’re going to break down the benefits of having an app for your restaurant.

By 2022, the number of smartphone users in the U.S. is estimated to reach over 270 million. That means that you have the potential to have your restaurant mobile app in the pocket of 270 million people. Smartphones are so ubiquitous and gateway to a positive customer experience that apps are becoming the new websites for restaurants.

Many restaurants are using their mobile apps to enhance and improve the customer experience. These restaurants are able to drive more revenue due to the ease their apps provide. According to Food Tech Connect, 98% of 18 to 34 year-olds who’ve paid a bill via mobile would like to do so again. 35% of this group like to place their orders on smartphone or tablet, and 40% actually prefer a mobile payment over other options, especially for restaurants offering quicker service. A mobile app is a fantastic way to reach and serve Millennials and Gen Z customers the way they want to be served and stand out from the competition in the process.

How Apps For Restaurants Can Improve Business

1. Apps For Restaurants Turbocharge Loyalty & Referral Programs

Using a restaurant mobile app for your loyalty program allows you to take a more active role in bringing those loyal customers back to your restaurant. Mobile-based loyalty programs are far more personal than the ones that involve a simple punch-card being handed out to every customer who buys a drink.

With Flyght Engage, you can collect valuable data and build full customer profiles to deliver tailored offers to your favorite customers. You can also create unique offers for your loyal customers including gift cards, store credit, deals, points, scratch cards, tiers, joining gifts, birthday gifts, and the list goes on.

Want to text your loyalty program members about an upcoming promotion? You can do that! Want to reach out to regulars who haven’t been back in a while to get them back to your restaurant? Easy peasy. When you have a mobile app for your restaurant, the options to reach your customers directly are limitless.

A great example of this is when a restaurant called Pizza Ranch ran a Black Friday promotion that gave their customers double loyalty points for coming in and buying from them that day. This super simple strategy generated 67.6% more business for the day than normal. This successful, simple, and low-cost strategy generated an ROI of 780% on the money and time they invested.

According to this study, 65% of restaurant customers would be willing to download your restaurant’s app if you promised them exclusive offers and deals from time to time, and a whopping 80% of those people would proactively return to your restaurant to reap the benefits…even if it meant they’d have to keep buying a few times before they got anything.

2. Mobile Restaurant Apps Make Order Fulfillment Easier

Beyond making more money, mobile apps (especially the ordering options for pickup or delivery) make it easier to fulfill your orders.

This about the typical to-go order process. Your host or hostess has to man the phones and then try to make out what the caller is saying, along with their credit card details, all with the noise of your restaurant in the background. Your kitchen staff has to rely on their handwriting or relaying of the order to determine what they need to do. This giant game of telephone is a recipe for mistakes and errors that leave the customer with a negative experience.

When you use a restaurant mobile app to take to-go and delivery orders directly from the customer, the people responsible for those filling orders can clearly see exactly what needs to be made, along with any special requirements given by the customer. When you use in-app payment, there’s one less thing your front desk staff or delivery staff have to worry about. The ease of use that apps for restaurants provide makes ordering quick and convenient for your customers too which makes them more likely to use your app to place an order. Instead of having your hosts take to-go orders by phone, you can utilize them in other ways to support the needs of the rest of the team and provide better service.

Let’s be honest, nobody likes to call a restaurant to try to place a delivery or take out order. Between trying to communicate everything to someone in a loud restaurant and the hassle of having to sit on the phone waiting, it’s enough to make many people not bother.

3. Restaurant Mobile Apps Make Making Reservations A Breeze

Does your restaurant take reservations? Why not allow customers to use your app to make a reservation without the hassle of calling the restaurant and trying to catch the host or hostess when they happen to be near the phone?

When you can make something like making a reservation easier for your customer, they’re more likely to do it. If you want more reservations, make it easy and convenient for your customers to make them. If you have more than one location, you can consolidate your efforts even further by allowing customers to make reservations at any of your locations. This will compound the amount you save in labor costs for a member of staff to do this work at each location.

Frustrated by no-shows? Your app can send customers who make a reservation a reminder of their reservation and remind them to cancel if they can no longer make it. This will help reduce the number of no-shows and keep your servers happy.

4. Harness the Power of Restaurant Mobile App Push Notifications

Speaking of sending your customers reminders and messages, you can use your app to send out push notifications about current promos, special offers, their loyalty program benefits, and just remind them that you are there. Instead of sending them an email and hoping they see it, an app can send it directly to their phone making it way more likely that they are going to see it and open it.

You can use push notifications to mobilize your loyal customers and bring them back into your restaurant. Contacting them directly this way is far more cost effective than trying to reach everyone with advertising and your existing customers are more likely to come back with a little nudge to remind them of why they should.

Push notifications don’t just have to be for bringing customers back to your restaurant, they can also be used to get reviews. Using GPS and order tracking, your app can prompt your customers to leave a review after they visit. Many of your best customers are happy to leave a review, they just don’t think to do it or simply forget to. The additional reviews can boost your visibility and help you bring in more new customers.

As you can see, there are many different ways a mobile app can benefit your restaurant and many restaurants are already increasing their revenue with an app of their own. From nurturing loyal customers to bringing in new ones, apps for restaurants can significantly impact your bottom line.