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News & Press: Insider Tips & Best Practices

Is a Mobile App Right for Your Restaurant?

Thursday, May 29, 2014  
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New York City celebrated National Small Business Week in Mid-May and one if the key sponsors were Como, formerly Conduit Mobile. They played host to an amazing and informative small business summit held at the IAC Building on May 14, 2014. The stage was packed with experts from Amazon, Booker, Muve Magazine and Yext to name just a few. Moderating as well as presenting was Small Business expert Melinda Emerson who kept the energy high and the information flowing. This event was open to all small business owners and the NYS Restaurant Association was right there with them.

One of the panels titled "Making It Big: Small Biz Success in a Mobile World” was moderated by renowned small business guru Melinda Emerson, "Making It Big" discussed how small businesses can better integrate into today's mobile lifestyle. Panelists included influential business leaders Rob Pulciani of Amazon, Javier Saade of the U.S. Small Business Administration's Office of Investment & Innovation, Li-at Karpel Gurwicz of Conduit Mobile, Matthew Mahoney of Booker and Andre LaMont founder of Muve Magazine.

This discussion was not just about getting that new, fancy app with all the bells and whistles. More importantly it was about focusing on what is best for your business and using the right resources to help it grow. “A mobile app is an extension of your business and is there to meet a specific need…you want to focus on selling more coffee not managing an app,” says a representative from Como. Those are true words when it comes to the restaurant industry. It is about the message you are creating through your food, the service and the overall experience that will keep customers coming back. A mobile app or any other mode of technology can be an extension of that message.

The first step

Before deciding if a mobile app (or any other technology-based communication that will cost you time and money) is right for you, there are some questions that first need to be answered:
  • What type of restaurant do I have? Is it casual? Formal? Sporty?
  • What type of food do I serve?
  • What is the theme of my restaurant?
  • What customer need am I fulfilling when using this new technology?
The answers to these questions will help you build your message and assist in choosing the right platform – or not choosing one - for your business.

So you think a mobile app is right for you
First, everyone needed a website, and then everyone needed to be on social media. So there is a natural pressure to start using every new technology to help reach your customer. For wanting more than just using outside websites that list restaurants such as tripadvisor, opentable, yelp, etc., there is the opportunity to build your own restaurant app. Here are some tips for you to remember:

  • The app should provide a clear service and meet the needs of your customer.
  • Focus on new content for your app. Websites are more evergreen, but audiences expect new information on a more regular basis from an app.
  • K.I.S.S. “Keep it simple and stellar!” Just have the app work perfectly for the few things you need it to do. If you want it to show your specials, make a reservation and pay a check then have those three things work impeccably or the app will die no matter how pretty it is.
  • Decide if you are going to have people pay for the app to download it or offer it for free. Again, remember the purpose of the app. If it is to make you money, then a price tag may be in order. If it is to get customers in those seats – free is fabulous!
So whether you are ready to move into the amazing world of downloadable app design, or feel comfortable where you are now, be confident in what is best for you and your restaurant. Also, never be scared to research the next big thing because it is always around the corner and may give you the edge.

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