Choosing the Right Online Ordering Platform for Your Multi-Location Restaurant

Feb 5, 2021

multi-location restaurant is in need of online ordering platform

When looking for the right online ordering platform for your multi-location restaurant, it’s important to choose one that will help you remain profitable and give you the tools you need to run a successful business.  

While there is no shortage of online ordering services to choose from, not all online ordering partners are alike. Some have powerful customer acquisition models, but come at too steep a cost. Others are more sustainably priced, but come with their own set of limitations, often falling short from investing in your success. To help you choose the right one, we’ve compiled a list of five questions to ask when choosing an online ordering platform for your multi-location restaurant.

Five questions to help you make a decision:

1. Does my online ordering platform bring consistency to my business? 

For your current online ordering strategy, do you rely on a specific online ordering service for pickup and a different one for delivery? Do you take commission-free orders via your website and pay commissions on third-party marketplaces? Are all of your restaurant locations on different online ordering platforms?

In certain cases, relying on multiple online ordering platforms can be an effective strategy. But many times it leads to inefficiency, especially when you’re managing multiple restaurant locations. For one, your guests may have a different ordering experience every time they order from you – one you have little influence over. Secondly, you’ll have an inconsistent and, at times, difficult experience managing marketing, data reporting, operations, and associated costs for all of your locations.

With ChowNow, restaurant partners can take commission-free online orders for pickup and delivery across all locations. Our restaurant-friendly marketplace helps restaurants attract new diners. Plus, we offer restaurants their very own branded, mobile app that covers all locations and integrates right into their online ordering platform.

2. Do I have control over my profits, brand, and customer relationships?

Your online ordering partner should be just that – a partner. It’s no secret that third-party marketplaces put their own brand ahead of yours. Although they are often regarded as a necessary evil, third-party marketplaces like Grubhub or Postmates confine restaurants to unprofitable pricing models. The better you do on these platforms, the more you end up paying them.  

When your guests order your food from these marketplaces, the brand they are interacting with is theirs, not yours. What’s worse, you don’t learn anything meaningful about your own customer. These companies will keep your customer data for themselves and use it to promote your competitors to your customers. 

With ChowNow, restaurant partners pay a flat, monthly fee for their online ordering platform, which makes it much easier to get a return on investment. In fact, the typical ChowNow restaurant partner sees a 25:1 ROI in their first year. Plus, your brand is front and center, and you get full access to your customer’s data.

Download: Why Customer Data Is Critical to Your Restaurant’s Success

3. Does my online ordering platform give me access to customer data?

Speaking of customer data, it’s imperative to the success of your business that you have access to your customers’ names, emails, and their order details. Most third-party apps do not share your customers’ data with you robbing you of valuable insights needed to run a successful business. Analyzing your customer data can help inform marketing strategies for your business. Data from your online ordering platform also helps increase ticket sizes  With menu insights, you can optimize your menu and create strategically priced add-ons.

What’s more, customer data is a crucial component of both guest acquisition and retention strategies. You can use email addresses associated with your orders to fuel an email marketing campaign. With email addresses, you can also target your current customers on social media or use that list to create a look-a-like audience to reach similar diners in your area. 

Learn More: Why Third-Party Marketplaces Want Your Restaurant’s Data

4. Can I enable delivery?

Customer preference for delivery has grown steadily in recent years. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic and a desire for both convenience and safety made it a business necessity for restaurants. According to Sage Intacct, more than half of restaurants are using a third-party delivery service, and 68 percent say that delivery has increased their revenue.

You may have your own drivers or need a service to help you accommodate delivery. Whichever method you use, delivery should integrate with your online ordering platform. If you do need a third party service to offer delivery, keep it profitable by making sure it is commission-free. Instead of paying commissions on every order, look for a delivery service that charges a distanced-based rate. You’ll also want flexibility on how much of the fee you want to pass on to your guests. 

Related: 4 Steps to Choosing the Best Food Delivery Service for Your Restaurant

5. Do they offer tools to help promote my multi-location restaurant?

When evaluating an online ordering platform for your multi-location restaurant, check for other ways they invest in the success of your online business. That is, do they help you promote your business? What tools can you use to attract new diners or help retain your current ones?

Consider the level of customer support available to you and your diners. If there’s a technical issue with your diners’ order, will your online ordering partner be able to step in? If you need to troubleshoot a problem at 4 AM, can you reach an expert who can help?

Restaurants that partner with ChowNow can enable online ordering from some of the most popular sites online. These sites include Google, Yelp, Instagram, TripAdvisor, OpenTable, and Resy. We also offer an email marketing program that produces a 26:1 ROI for the average restaurant partner. Our award-winning support team offers 24 hour support for both restaurants and their customers. Each restaurant is also paired with their own restaurant success manager to help them strategize ways to achieve their goals.

Advice from Restaurant Success: Lessons from the Pandemic

ChowNow is unique because it combines the best parts of a white label online ordering platform and a marketplace. It’s our job to uplift your brand, your profits, and your customer data. In addition to building restaurants their own online ordering system, we equip them with a powerful customer acquisition engine, and other tools to help them run a successful restaurant. If you’re interested in learning more, schedule a demo with one of our online ordering specialists. 

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