Opening up a restaurant? Don’t miss this essential ingredient.

By ChowNowAug 1st, 2021

Opening Up a New Restaurant With Online Ordering

Opening a new restaurant is an enormous undertaking. Whether it’s your very first concept or your twentieth, restaurant startup costs and logistics can be overwhelming (to say the least). As you cross items off your checklists and get ready for the big day, you’ll also need to prepare to market your business and connect with your guests. This is why branded, commission-free online ordering will be instrumental as you open your doors. 

You may be considering using third-party delivery apps that charge commissions. These apps usually don’t require any upfront investment, but instead take considerable—sometimes even ruinous—commissions on every order. They also withhold critical marketing data from the restaurants they work with, which will prevent you from building a solid customer base.

Instead, you should get your restaurant your own branded, commission-free online ordering system. That way, you’ll be able to easily see a return on your investment in your ordering platform, own your own data, and put your name and logo first. If you work with the right online ordering partner, you’ll:

  • Leverage your digital marketing efforts while opening up a new source of sales.
  • Generate extra interest from your foot traffic.
  • Increase your per-check averages with strategic menu design.
  • Build your brand and create excitement for your opening.
  • Gather valuable marketing data to grow your budding customer base.

How exactly does this all happen, though? We spoke to restaurateur Demetri Tsolakis, a partner in Boston restaurants GreCo, Committee, Krasi, and Hecate, for more insight.

Why GreCo Opened Their Doors With Online Ordering

When Tsolakis opened the doors of GreCo’s first location in 2017, he made sure to already have online ordering in place. Four years and a second location later, and GreCo has made over $2,000,000 in online revenue. 

Demetri Tsolakis (left) and his business partner, Stefanos Ougrinis (right).

Demetri Tsolakis (left) and his business partner, Stefanos Ougrinis (right). Photo by Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe.

Tsolakis decided to immediately sign up for online ordering because he knew it would help him cultivate a great guest experience. He explains, “The location we were going into, we knew people were short on time and that we had to cater to a larger audience…Having online ordering gives us a ‘second line’ to cater to in a timely manner that we can control, so we’re not making false promises and we’re not sacrificing service.” 

Within their first few months, GreCo steadily built up their sales by promoting their web ordering and their branded mobile app.

Opening Up a New Restaurant - Building Sales

GreCo’s online ordering was also instrumental in marketing the new restaurant. In fact, when we asked Tsolakis if he had any marketing advice for newly opening concepts, he told us, “Yeah, get online. Get an app. It’s a good tool to create a hype even before you open and get the word out.” 

His recommendations don’t stop there. Let’s take a closer look at how restaurateurs like Tsolakis can use online ordering to their advantage when they’re just starting out.

5 Ways Your New Restaurant Will Benefit From Online Ordering

1. Online ordering will open up a new channel for restaurant sales.

These days, many of your customers will encounter your restaurant for the first time online. In fact, 90% of guests research a restaurant before dining—more than any other business type. Tsolakis comments, “I definitely highly recommend getting on the virtual side—there’s a whole other database of consumers out there who are tech-savvy and love apps.”

It’s critical to invest part of your time and budget in digital marketing. When you do so, you should take the extra step and give new guests the ability to instantly order from you. 

The digital exposure you get in your first few months—whether that’s through your social media presence, positive reviews, or online ads—can be make-or-break. When you directly monetize your online presence, it’ll be much easier to increase your restaurant’s sales.

Certain digital channels, such as Yelp and Google, are especially important for restaurants. If your online ordering provider gives you the ability to take orders directly through these platforms, you’ll see even more sales. With ChowNow, for example, restaurant partners that use Food Ordering with Google make 21% more every month compared to those that don’t.

2. Online ordering will multiply the value of your foot traffic.

Inevitably, some potential customers will walk by your restaurant and won’t be in the mood to dine with you in the moment. Maybe the line will be long, or maybe they just won’t be hungry right then and there. If they see a sign in your window advertising your online ordering, though, they’ll know that they can visit your website later (or download your app) and try you out. 

Jumpstart the appeal of your new restaurant’s online ordering to passersby by offering a small discount for their first-time orders. Use in-store marketing materials, like table tents or window clings, to advertise it.

3. Online ordering will grow your ticket sizes quickly, when you need it most.

Orders placed online are, on average, 20% larger than in-store orders. This digital option gives guests the time and ability to study menus and choose exactly what they want. They feel uninhibited because they don’t need to interact with anyone when they place their orders, and they can be influenced by well-designed menus that strategically upsell them.

If you open your new restaurant with ChowNow’s commission-free online ordering, you’ll benefit from the help of our Restaurant Success Team. ChowNow’s experts are there to make sure your restaurant’s online ordering is optimized in every way. Your Restaurant Success Manager will conduct menu consultations with you to ensure you’re using all the right tactics to increase your revenue.

Take a look at this blog post with client success stories to see just how much menu optimization can help. One of our featured restaurant partners increased their ticket sizes by 35% thanks to their Restaurant Success Manager!

4. Your branded online ordering system will help you make a name for yourself and build excitement around your restaurant opening.

Getting yourown online ordering system, rather than a third-party that prioritizes its name and logo over yours, gives you an opportunity to showcase your new restaurant’s brand.

Tsolakis used his ChowNow-powered online ordering—particularly his app—to strengthen GreCo’s brand identity. He notes, “An app is something that people will take with them on their phones. A branded app is a great way to get that grip on people as they use their phones throughout the day.”

Opening Up a Restaurant With a Mobile App

When it comes to promoting your app, Tsolakis recommends to advertise a perk before you even open up your restaurant. For example, offer $5 off every customer’s first order through your app.

Tsolakis continues, “It’s a really good incentive to get a crowd or a database or a network or even a loyal fan base even before you open, if you’re a new restaurant. As your brand expands, you’ll see that the app expands with you as well.”

See how other ChowNow restaurant partners have used their branded online ordering systems to drive sales and customer loyalty. Read our case study with a family-run restaurant that made over $120,000 online in just over a year.

Read Case Study

5. Your online ordering data will strengthen the loyalty of your growing customer base.

Opening a restaurant is so much easier when you can quickly build repeat business. You’ll have a strong source of revenue: Loyal customers spend 67% more at restaurants than new ones, on average. You’ll also enjoy the support of advocates who can spread the word about your new concept.

With online ordering, you’ll get vital data about your guests—such as their email addresses and order histories—which will help you communicate with them and keep them coming back.

Speaking about GreCo’s customer database, Tsolakis reflects, “What I like about it is that you really get to know your regulars and reward them, and have that connection that we tend to lose in a fast-paced environment…Just reaching out to them and bringing them back, really rewarding your loyal customers—whether it’s a code for downloading the app, or a discount, or an offer—I think it’s a great tool.”

His final word to other restaurateurs about going online? “It’s definitely a must before you even open—I highly, highly recommend it.”

Jumpstart your restaurant opening by getting your very own branded, commission-free online ordering system with ChowNow. Speak with one of our online ordering specialists today for expert recommendations.

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