2009 January: The Tech Edge

2009 January: The Tech EdgeHow many different yellow page books are available in your town? What does a decent size ad cost in one of them? What does a full-blown, fl ash animated Web site with video and online ordering cost? Would you be surprised if I told you about $35 to $60 a month?

It’s easy to get blind-sided by a generational trend. For example, I owned a nightclub in the mid 80s. And at the time I was convinced that a new thing called “rap music” was doomed. I hated it, just like my mom hated the rock ‘n roll I listened to when I was a teenager. But the kids loved it. Boy, was I wrong on that one. Then, in the early 90’s a friend asked me for my e-mail address? Huh? E-mail? Oh yeah that Internet stuff. I told him it was unlikely that I’d ever get an “e-mail” account. After all, I’ve got a phone. I’ll just pick it up and call if I need to talk about something. He gave me his e-mail address and told me that someday I would have an e-mail account. What an idiot … not him — me!

I’m giving you an assignment today. Check out the Web sites of all the major pizza chains. Papa John’s has video telling their core stories about dough and toppings. Pizza Hut uses a fancy flash site to promote new items. Domino’s features their Pizza Tracker. All three heavily promote online ordering.

My suggestion is to launch a Web site or launch the lifeboats. An entire generation is firmly plugged into the Web right now. They use it for everything.

More and more people are using the Web to get instant information. They want it now. Here’s the major advantage to you: instead of blowing a huge wad of money every month in the yellow pages, run a smaller yellow pages ad that lists your Web address. People without a Web address in their yellow page ad may as well show a picture of a tombstone — because most people are simply going to the yellow pages to get the phone number of a business they intend to visit anyway — or for the Web address of a business so they can get more detailed information right now.

Your Web site can do a much better job of selling your place than a yellow page ad ever will. You can list your:

? Menu

? Specials

? Full color photos

? Directions

? Testimonials

? Guarantee

? Online ordering link

? Loyalty program sign-up

? Videos Web sites are cheap to build and inexpensive to maintain.

Be aware, though, the days of basic Web sites are numbered. Flash sites with animation are becoming commonplace and I strongly believe you should pony up and build a site that competes. And since Google is the new yellow pages, keep in mind that your competitors are just one click away. Don’t let them show you up.

All the major chains are hyping online ordering. And Domino’s Pizza even has “Pizza Tracker” that keeps you updated on the progress of your online order, all the way to your front door.

So, whether you’re hip to the Web or not, a majority of your customers are. And the trend is unstoppable. Everything is moving to wireless devices and the Web … everything. Many people simply ignore businesses without a Web site.

Fact: As of February 2008 – 79 percent of all consumers have visited a restaurant’s Web site. 70 percent visit to check out the menu, while 27 percent are there to place an online order.

Fact: Papa John’s will sell $400 million worth of food via online orders this year. Here’s another surprising stat: ticket averages skyrocket when people place orders online. Why? Simple: They are not rushed by an order-taker who just wants to get off the phone so he can get back to texting his friend.

Online ordering invites browsing and exploring the menu and side items. And if your online ordering system is doing its job it will automatically “upsell” for you. It will suggest menu items as customers make selections. It will offer package deals with higher profit margins.

Right now ticket averages are about 18 percent higher with online ordering than with regular table or phone orders (some clients report 40 to 50 percent higher ticket averages because of business orders).

American Express reports that 37 percent of consumers have placed an online restaurant order. Of those, 54 percent say they are “extremely satisfied” with the experience. Many of my own clients are seeing over 100 online orders per month — and that’s within just a few months of launch. This trend is huge. Online ordering is here to stay. Are you? ?

Kamron Karington owned a highly successful independent pizzeria before becoming a consultant, speaker and author of The Black Book: Your Complete Guide to Creating Staggering Profi ts in Your Pizza Business. He is a monthly contributor to Pizza Today.

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