Before adopting restaurant self-service POS payment options, you should understand the pros and cons and make sure that you don’t damage the customer experience in the process.

Do Diners Really Want Restaurant Self-Service POS?

More and more restaurants are moving toward not only restaurant self-service POS but digital ordering options as a way to increase efficiency and match capabilities to the consumer’s ever-increasing love of all things tech. It may be inevitable that most – if not all – restaurants eventually offer customers the ability to process their own payments in the course of their dining experience.

Inevitable or not, it’s important for restaurant owners to understand how implementing a self-service POS could impact their customer’s experience for better and for worse, so they can make sure they don’t unwittingly damage the customer experience in the process. Data from a Panasonic white paper called ‘Self Service POS: Do Diners Really Want It’ published on earlier this year provides information that restaurant industry entrepreneurs might want to consider before they take the plunge.

Pros and Cons of Restaurant Self-Service POS

Pros and Cons of Restaurant Self-Service POS

Pro: Diners want the option – nine out of ten diners say they would prefer using a self-service option at the table (but not at a kiosk).

Con: Diners face a learning curve – navigating a menu (especially one they are not familiar with) and learning a new software environment takes time and doesn’t come easily to everyone. Wait staff who might have processed the payment in less than a minute might have to spend more time helping diners successfully use the platform, or fix the problems when they don’t.

Pro: Self-service options enable customization – 47% say they would use self-service options to customize their orders and tailor them to their preferences.

Pro: Self-service POS makes it easier to split the bill – 39% say they would want to use self-service POS to split the bill.

Con: Restaurants may incur higher merchant card processing fees when multiple payments are processed.

Pro: Millennials prefer it seven to one and Gen Y and Xers lean toward it (57%).

Cons: Polar opposites, 65% of Baby Boomers would rather not order for themselves and 40% of Gen Y and Gen X diners aren’t interested.

Cons: It’s a no-go with fine diners who are paying more (in part) for high-touch, hands on service, plus 13% of fast foodies aren’t interested either, since they’re worried about holding up the line behind them. Quick-service restaurants have the process down to a science; so much so that self-service ordering and payment POS systems are often slower than working with a live server.

Cons: The more self-service in the customer-experience, the less control and opportunities a brand has to exceed expectations and leave a lasting impression.

Restaurant Marketing: 3 Ways to Provide a Full-Service Experience in a Self-Service World

Repurpose the human element, don’t eliminate it.

Many people perceive implementation of kiosk and POS tech as an attempt to reduce payroll; however, the real goal should be to free up a restaurant’s employees to become true brand ambassadors whose role is to improve the customer experience, not automate it.

Make it an option, not a requirement.

A self-service POS is by no means a slam dunk with Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y. As you introduce technology to enable digital ordering and self-service restaurant bill payment, you should view it as an option that can enhance the experience for some but detract from others. It should not replace the diners option of ordering from and having their payment processed by a real person, but be introduced as an option for those who are interested.

Use tech to boost up-sells and keep diners in your restaurant longer, instead of viewing it as a way to speed customers in and out the door.

Increasing the average order of diners can make a restaurant much more profitable. Instead of viewing restaurant self-service POS as a way to increase efficiency and move diners through more quickly, use its technology to make suggestions to diners about side dishes, beverages and special offers that can boost your bottom line revenues.


We may be able to help you reduce your restaurant merchant services fees and we also offer free service and setup for restaurant point of sale solutions:

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Digital signs aren’t inexpensive, but the marketing benefits for retail stores and restaurants can be significant. Here are ten ways digital signs help retail marketing.

Invest in Digital Signs, Reap These 10 Benefits – Digital Signage Statistics Infographic

Some of the benefits of installing digital signs in your restaurant or retail store are readily apparent. Unlike non-digital signage, marketing messages can be changed more frequently and video-based marketing is a proven winner with today’s shoppers. Even so, the cost of using digital signs for marketing can seem prohibitive, since retail stores or restaurants may need to be prepared to pay for:

  • Screens (often LCD televisions) and mounts
  • Player hardware
  • Software purchase or subscription
  • Installation, on-boarding, setup and initial training
  • On-going support or maintenance

All of this, before the unit is even turned on. Given that this could mean an expense of a few to many thousands of dollars depending on the number of digital signs installed, it’s not a strategy to be implemented lightly. Fortunately, statistics seem to show that the investment is well-worth the cost. As you evaluate which marketing strategies you might use to grow your retail store or restaurant business more quickly this year, consider these ten marketing benefits enjoyed by businesses with digital signs.

Infographic: Digital Signs Statistics Shows 10 Retail Store and Restaurant Benefits

1. Improves Recall

Marketing displayed on digital signs have a recall rate of 83 percent. A Nielsen survey of travelers found that 82 percent recalled specific ad campaigns they had seen during the last month. Plus, since digital displays can be changed frequently and used to display multiple messages over the course of a given customer’s or diner’s visit, they capture 400 percent more views than static displays.

2. Increases Spending

Digital marketing displays bump up average purchase amount at the POS (point of sale) by nearly 30 percent. One big reason for this is how they “feed” the impulse-buy-friendly consumer’s brain. One in five consumers say they made unplanned, impulse buys of products they saw advertised digitally.  Additionally, businesses that use digital signage enjoy a 32 percent upswing in overall sales volume. Digital marketing signs provide the opportunity to make shoppers or diners aware of special or limited-time offers, closeouts, or to introduce them to previously-untried menu options or products. They can be employed at any point in the restaurant customer’s journey, from the entry way to the waiting area, table, bathroom and right up until the POS point of sale transaction.

In one experiment, two static signs went head to head with one digital display in an effort to prompt customers to go to the help desk to receive a free tote bag. Both locations had similar amounts of traffic during the experiment; however, only six people took advantage of the offer in the location where static signs were displayed, while 610 people grabbed the free tote bags in the location where the digital display conveyed the offer – over 100 times more.

3. Increases Retention

Not only do digital signs improve the customer’s ability to recall specific marketing messages, they also improve customer retention for the businesses that use them by 30 percent. Digital signage gives the retailer or restaurateur a uniquely powerful way to engage and interest patrons, which in turn, can help the shopper feel more personally connected to the business.

4. Improves Satisfaction

Using digital signage boosts customer satisfaction by 46 percent. Digital messaging can help patrons feel like they’re “in the know” and make them aware of anything from a flash-sale to in-store only offers, closeouts, and other sale-related data that makes them feel reassured they are getting a great value for the money they spend at a business. They can also be used to let customers know about how the business is participating in the community, charitable give-backs, brand story, company history, and other information that can make the consumer feel happy about choosing to do business there. Digital signage can also be used to help guide the shopper to the items they’re looking for more quickly, giving them additional time to browse before they need to leave or helping the consumer who doesn’t particularly like shopping expedite the process.

5. Generates New Traffic

Businesses that implement digital signage generate a 33 percent increase in the number of repeat buyers; moreover, they also increase in-store traffic by 33 percent. Improved brand and marketing message-awareness can lead to more word of mouth marketing and referrals occurring outside of the business. In fact, in one study of small businesses that had installed outdoor LED digital signage, an impressive 86 percent – nearly 9 out of 10 – believed the new signs had brought them new customers, and nearly as many (83) noticed an increase in sales after installing the digital signs.

6. Keeps Customers In-Store Longer

In retail, the longer a customer stays in the store to shop and browse, the more they’re likely to spend. Using digital signage in-store produces a 30 percent increase in the length of the shopper’s visit.

7. Reduces Perceived Wait Time

Digital displays with engaging content serve as an entertaining distraction, reducing the dissatisfaction that waiting engenders. Whether restaurant patrons are waiting to be seated, waiting for their food, waiting for a sales person, waiting to check out at the point of sale (POS), digital signs can be used to amuse, educate and interest. As a result, even if wait time is equivalent, consumers perceive wait-time to be as much as 35 percent less at businesses where digital signage is present vs. those without.

In addition, digital devices can be used to set expectations and display information about wait times, call customers forward, and let people know which cash registers or stations are available for whoever is next. Expediting the queuing process reduces wait time for everyone, and also helps to manage expectations and reduce customer anxiety (such as the anxiety that they might have been overlooked or forgotten).

8. Significantly Improves Brand Awareness

It should come as no surprise that digital signs are 47.7 percent effective when it comes to brand awareness. Another Nielsen study on “Awareness and Effectiveness of Digital Display Screens in Grocery Stores” found that patrons exposed to point-of-sale digital ads exhibited a 31 percent increase in brand awareness and recall.

9. Creates Intrigue

59 percent of people who saw digital signage wanted to learn more about the advertised topic. Digital displays can often be programmed to display many different messages, exposing the patron to many different brand and marketing impressions during a given visit to the retail store or restaurant. The more retailers and restaurateurs recognize and take advantage of the medium to entertain and engage, the more they can create interest and intrigue among customers.

In addition, digital signage can be used to display information about offers scheduled for the future, helping to spur repeat visits and to potentially increase the frequency at which the customer regularly visits the business.

10. Improves Employee Engagement, Productivity

Customers aren’t the only ones whose behavior is impacted in ways that benefit the retail store or restaurant. Businesses with digital signs had improvements of 20 to 25 percent in employee engagement, with a corresponding increase in employee productivity. Digital displays can also help employees remember to engage with patrons about specific special offers or new products, or motivate the customer to ask the salesperson for more information as a conversation starter.

The good news for retailers and restaurateurs who have been discouraged from installing digital signage due to cost concerns is that unlike the cost of most things – which only rises over time – the cost of this technology has decreased significantly. While the average cost of digital signage was $8500 in 2004, that number dropped to $3720 in 2010. Like similar technologies, it’s one whose highest cost is at the pioneering phase, that is reduced significantly and quickly as more companies enter the marketplace and volume as well as continued advancement decreases the cost of equipment, software, and infrastructure for everyone.

Digital Signs Statistics Infographic Shows 10 Retail Store and Restaurant Benefits

Restaurant loyalty programs that offer deep discounts, 2-for-1 offers or daily deal marketing programs take note: A recent survey revealed the overwhelming majority of restaurant-goers will frequent their regular, favorite restaurants, regardless of price or promotion.

Are restaurant specials or special restaurants the key to restaurant loyalty?

They say “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” and apparently the same holds true when it comes to restaurant loyalty programs. When it comes to restaurant loyalty, it might be more effective restaurant marketing to offer customers a special restaurant, rather than reduce margins and profitability  through discounts and restaurant specials.

Since we provide restaurant POS (point of sale) terminals, software and mobile solutions, we hear about a variety of creative ideas from our customers. When small business owners come to us for restaurant POS equipment or software, it’s often to help fuel their growth. Putting effective restaurant marketing tactics into place is usually high on their list of priorities.

So we took note when a article pointed out that when it comes to customer loyalty to restaurants, only about one quarter of those surveyed in a new report from The NPD Group will switch restaurants because of a special promotion.  A wide majority of restaurant-goers said that regardless of promotions, they would continue to dine at their familiar, favorite restaurants, instead.

restaurant loyalty marketing - restaurant marketing ideas

Turns out, the best way to gain loyalty among restaurant customers isn’t by offering discounts and restaurant specials — it’s by making the restaurant special. So we came up with six ways you can make your restaurant more special in order to garner customer loyalty, repeat visits and referrals.

6 Ways to Improve Restaurant Loyalty Marketing

1. Train and empower staff to go the extra mile for customers in solving problems, righting wrongs or relieving dissatisfaction.

2. Infuse every customer visit with an unexpected, exclusive “gift;” be creative! This could be as simple and inexpensive as:

  • bringing a treat with the check that is different than delivered to adjacent tables
  • bringing a sample size of a new appetizer, entrée or drink and ask diners to taste and provide feedback (this might even spur new sales of that menu item!)
  • having hand-written thank you cards at the ready and asking wait staff to sign and deliver at the end of a customer’s visit

3.  Create a unique and impeccable atmosphere. Infuse elements of your brand identity into memory points throughout your restaurant. Install furnishings that reflect your brand and caters to customer comfort, privacy and other amenities.

4.  Solicit, act on and recognize customers who provide you with suggestions for improvements. People love to be recognized – why else would all those restaurants feature photo walls of sombrero-laden patrons?  Certainly not for the fashion statement!

5.  Be connected within your community in supporting causes and organizations that matter to your most valuable customers.  Host a local business networking group.  Support student car washes and fundraisers.  Recognize local community servants.

6.  Above all else, be known for the quality of experience that you deliver from end to end during the customer’s experience at your restaurant – especially, of course, the food!  Restaurants develop loyal patrons by delivering consistent quality of menu items and exceptional, unique levels of personalized service, time and time again.

The key to loyalty for restaurant customers must lie in delivering what the customer has come to expect – and want – over and over again. They want to know that they can count on their favorite restaurant, and their favorite menu item, when they’ve had a bad day, when they’re hosting an out of town guest, when they want to impress a boss or co-worker or they just want to relax with family or friends.

So forget restaurant specials!  Deliver quality of restaurant customer experience, and you will make your restaurant special – which produces a far greater return on restaurant loyalty.

Most retail businesses have seasonal slowdowns at some point of the year. Here are nine ideas for restaurant owners who want to eliminate the ups and downs that come along with slow seasons.

Counterpunch Seasonal Slowdowns – 9 Marketing Ideas for Restaurant Owners

Most restaurant owners have no problem identifying – or even predicting – which weeks or months of the year are slower than others. Your restaurant may see a decline in the summer months when local residents flee to vacation spots, or when they abandon your restaurant’s cuisine for competitors with more summery fare. You may see a decline in traffic in the winter months if many of the people in your area depart for warmer climates or opt to eat at home instead of venturing out.

Whatever the cause, and whenever your slow season occurs, you may have the ability to negate the consequent slowdowns in your restaurant’s sales by adjusting your marketing strategy. Let’s take a closer look at nine different tactics restaurant owners can use to counteract seasonal slowdowns to ensure more predictable, consistent revenues year-round.

9 Ways Restaurant Owners Can Turn Slow Seasons into Cash Cows

Double Down on Local Marketing

A slow season is the perfect time for restaurant owners to double down on their restaurant’s local appeal and outreach. Reaching out to the people who live and work in your community won’t just help generate sales, it will also enhance your reputation in the community. If you’re not currently reaching out specifically to local residents, try one or all of these ideas.

1. Local discounts. The people who live or work near your restaurant represent the individuals most likely to become regulars at your restaurant; turning them into fans of your business could be gold! Start a promotion that includes a free drink, or 10% off of a local’s order. This will entice them to come back to your restaurant and tell the people they live and work with to check out your restaurant.

2. Local rewards programs. When your local-only promotions successfully draw local people in to your restaurant, show them you don’t stop there. Give them a punch card and every 5th or 10th visit they get a buy-one, get-one free entrée. Not only will they be encouraged to return, they’ll be encouraged to bring other people with them.

Update your POS (point of sale) merchant services systems to feature payment processing software that integrates seamlessly with your customer rewards and loyalty programs. Point of sale loyalty and rewards programs can even generate business with triggered marketing automation based on customer preferences and purchasing behaviors.

3. Host local events. If a local girl scout troop is looking for a place to hold their awards dinner, offer your restaurant. Create a special menu for the event and offer them a percentage off since they are bringing in a large group. Now you’ve not only got the girl scout talking about your restaurant to their friends, but their parents as well. That’s a lot of good chatter about your restaurant! Other groups you might extend a welcome to include:

  • Non-profits, churches, schools
  • Business networking groups
  • Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, and other civic groups
  • Coaches, parks and rec teams, etc.

Beef Up Your Restaurant’s Online Presence

Chances are, if you’re experiencing a slow season your business-neighbors and competitors are too. You can leverage a strong online presence to differentiate your restaurant from the pasta place, burger joint, or bar and grill right down the street. Since many online marketing activities require only an investment of time, using your energy to build your online presence is a low-cost way to reach out to a large group of people.

4. Social Media. If you don’t already have a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram the time to make one is now (and you can use them for free). Use these online platforms to call out your customer of the week, talk about your restaurant’s community involvement, and share seasonal promotions. Not to mention all of these platforms make it easy for your followers to share all the great content you are posting. If you do have a few dollars to spend, you can also bolster your local marketing efforts with targeted Facebook ads and sponsored post.

5. Think visual and video. If you have an awesome seasonal promotion, pictures are a more captivating way to promote your menu items than words. Say you’re holding a promotion that allows customers to buy one entrée and get the second half off. Your followers are more likely to read your post if there is a picture of yummy, yummy food associated with your post. Or better yet, share a photo that has the promotion included on the picture. Taking time to edit a photo, will definitely pay off. Likewise, capturing a real customer’s review on video with your smartphone creates a video testimonial that can be instantly shared on your website, social networks, and other marketing channels to help promote your restaurant.

6. Thank your reviewers. The slow time of the year is a great time to respond to those people who left you glowing reviews on Facebook, Yelp, Google, and other sites. This will not only show your past reviewers that you value their opinions, but will show all future customers that your restaurant has great customer service. 70 percent of consumers read reviews before purchasing from a business, so it’s that much more important that you know what your reviews say and you take time to personally respond to them.

Hold Events at Your Restaurant During Slow Hours

7. Host meetings and events. Reach out to local professionals, alumni organizations, consultants, coaches, and small business owners who could benefit from a networking or corporate meeting space. Holding events during slow seasons can help you bring in more revenue and introduce your restaurant to new people. This could also be a convenient way to test out new dishes, since you will often be asked to create menus just for the event.

8. Happy hours. If you don’t have happy hours yet, slow seasons are the perfect time to experiment. If you already have happy hours, you may need to consider changing or expanding happy hours to make it more convenient time for people coming from work. Happy hours are a great time for old friends to reconnect and for consumers to try new places they wouldn’t usually go for a full-fledged dinner. Whatever your hours, it’s imperative to make your happy hour enticing to drive the traffic you want.

9. Research competitors. Take time on your off day to check out other restaurants and see what they are doing to attract patrons during slow seasons (or to see why your slow season is their ‘hot’ one). Once you understand what they are doing, you can make sure your marketing strategy is unique enough to bring in the consumers you need to continue to drive sales.

The keys to overcoming your slow seasons are to reward local businesses and families, establish a strong online presence and plan events. The best thing about a slow season is that you can really execute your thought-out marketing plan to ensure you not only bring in traffic now, but build your customer base for seasons to come.

Effective POS marketing strategies could make the last point of the buyer’s journey the most profitable one for your business.

9 POS Marketing Tactics Increase Average Spend and Generate New Revenues

If you evaluate the customer journey in terms of how it breaks down across each point, you may find that you’re failing to take advantage of many opportunities that could help you influence customers to spend more overall, choose upgrades, add-on accessories, and try new products or menu items. Instead of thinking about your marketing in terms of channels, lay it out so that you can see what occurs at each step of the buying journey:

  • Before the first time a customer visits your store or website
  • In-between customer visits to your store or website
  • As the customer arrives at and enters your store or website
  • What happens right after they arrive
  • While they’re browsing
  • As they approach the (POS) point of sale
  • At the point of sale register or checkout process – when the actual merchant services POS transaction occurs
  • After the POS – what happens after the payment processing transaction?

In this model, what occurs during the point-of-sale portion of the customer visit (including what happens immediately afterward) could constitute one-third of the opportunities you have to impact how much the customer spends and whether they spent more than they would have otherwise (because of the marketing tactics you employed at the POS).

9 POS Marketing Ideas for Generating Higher Sales

As they approach the POS

This is when the customer has clicked on their cart or started the checkout process online, when they’re approaching the cash register or standing in line, waiting at the table for you to bring the bill or take their payment, etc. At this point in the buying process, the customer has mentally stopped shopping. In their minds, they have everything they need in their carts (or tummies). However, according a poll, five out of six Americans admit to impulse buys, so the game is by no means over!

  1. Appeal to pioneers and early adopters.

These are the individuals who just looooove being the first to try something new. They relish being ahead of the rest when it comes to new technology, products, or services. While customers are waiting to start their transactions, use marketing to ask whether they missed out on new arrivals to your company’s line up.

  1. Use technology to mitigate the wait.

Studies show that consumers perceive their wait time to be less when digital signs, kiosks, and other devices are present. While you have the customer as a captive audience, entertain and engage them with digital displays, videos, or interactive messaging.

  1. Remind them of past purchases.

The idea behind Amazon’s “dash” buttons is genius: Make it easy for customers to replenish supplies as soon as they run out (or even before). Before the customer transactions is completely underway, use information about their historical purchases to generate questions that might remind them it’s time to repurchase something they may be running out of or which they would enjoy again.

During the POS transaction

This is the moment where the payment processing transaction process has begun but has not yet been completed by the merchant services company. Questions and suggestions raised here can instantly increase the amount of the sale and make the customer happier, since they didn’t miss out on something they couldn’t find or miss an opportunity to scoop up a special deal.

  1. Start with what they couldn’t find.

Tried and true, asking customers if they searched for something they weren’t able to find is a great way to ensure they leave with everything they came for. It’s also an invaluable way to discover whether there are additional needs your business could be meeting by adding specific menu items, products, or services based on customer demand.

  1. Tell them what they might also like.

Another e-commerce point of sale technique that brick and mortar businesses of all kinds could be using is the “you might also like” suggestion. This is where you can talk about the benefits of upgrading, upsizing, and add-ons like accessories or warranties that might enhance their purchase.

  1. End with last-chance opportunities.

Before payment is submitted, ask customers whether they want to take advantage of any last-chance or limited time offers. These are offers that help customers feel like they’re getting the most value for their dollars and in an era where direct mail and email offers often go unread, they’re also offers that customers might be unaware of and open to considering before payment processing is finalized by the merchant services company.

After the POS transaction has concluded

This is the time immediately after the merchant services transaction. The post-POS marketing tactics you deploy here give you a chance to get feedback, ask for reviews, and remind customers about what’s coming to your business in the near future, so that you can immediately get them thinking about returning. Post-POS marketing and marketing done in-between visits can increase the frequency with which the customer visits, thereby increasing their lifetime value to your company.

  1. Information on the receipt.

Many businesses now use receipts to generate coupons for future visits, ask customers to complete online surveys, or remind them about upcoming events. Plus, since many people keep receipts around for accounting or tax purposes, they can provide a lasting reminder about your company long after the payment processing transaction has been completed.

  1. Ask for a review or rating.

Stars and positive reviews are the new word of mouth. They are the data that prospects use to decide whether to try your business in the first place, and set expectations for how they perceive your brand, and how they feel about doing business with you. While your company is still top-of-mind in the moments following a successful point of sale transaction, ask the customer to leave a review for your business and make it easy to do so, with digital devices placed in-store or an online link to a review site provided with the digital receipt.

  1. Get the registration.

Every POS merchant services transaction should give your business the opportunity to gather contact information for email marketing. Email is far and away the channel most consumers cite as their preferred method for receiving brand communications. Make sure that if you haven’t yet gotten the customer’s email address otherwise, you capture it at the point of sale, by emailing receipts to customers rather than print them directly in-store or online.

Every point during the buying journey offers unique opportunities where your business can engage the customer. Make sure you’re making the most of the last – and most powerful – part of the customer journey so that you’re not leaving money on the table.

More than half of millennials dine out once a week, compared to just 43 percent of the remaining population. See how these restaurants exemplify what it takes to attract this generation.

In-Touch Restaurants Attract Millennials by Understanding their Dining Desires

50 percent of millennials dine out according to, and they do so for more reasons than just to eat food. They use it as an opportunity to gather with friends, eat local, and show philanthropic support. As a restaurant, understanding the desires of this generation is crucial as they hold $200 billion in spending power and are projected to make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025.

Be current, be hip.

To attract millennials, restaurants need to continually update your menu, adapt cooking practices, and mold their ambiance to stay on top.

When you think about millennials’ favorite sit down restaurant, Red Lobster is the first that comes to mind, right? Don’t worry, we were just as surprised as you. In May 2016, Red Lobster was named the number 1 choice with 18-24 year old’s, over 173 other brands. What did they do to revamp?

  1. Updated their menu. Red Lobster constantly updates their menu to the newest food trends in the country. Recently they added new flavors such as chimichurri and spicy Tennessee bourbon.
  2. Adapted cooking practices. Red Lobster took feedback from their customers and increased the size of their shrimp by 47 percent. They also prepare more dishes in house (over shipping) and added more sauce to their dishes.
  3. Molded their ambiance. Red Lobster encourages their customers to dine in by offering a new line of unique alcoholic beverages and has made sure their restaurants are designed to hold large parties, which perfectly fits a millennial’s desire.

On top of these changes, Red Lobster has embraced their role in pop culture. Pop singer, Beyoncé, mentioned the restaurant in one her songs in February, and sales went up 33 percent the day after she released her song.

We understand not every restaurant can get a shout out from a pop singer, but staying current with your menu and ambiance is an effective way to grab hold of your millennial audience.

Be online, be mobile.

As a restaurant owner you should be asking yourself these questions: Do you have a website, do you have an app, is your menu available online, how easy is it to order, and are you racking up online reviews?

59% of Millennials Review Menus Online Before Going to a Restaurant

59 percent of millennials review menus online before going to the restaurant. Millennials research places to eat like they research buying a product on Amazon. They will go to your website, look at your menu, read your reviews on Yelp, and look at pictures of your dining experience.

19% of Millennials Use Mobile Devices to Research Restaurants

19 percent of millennials will use a mobile device when researching a restaurant. Being mobile friendly goes beyond your website – and you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to create an app either. Creating a simple online order process won’t cost you much and will make it easier for millennials to order on the go, as they sometimes prefer. Your website can even help save on labor costs by eliminating or at least reducing the amount of manpower needed to:

  • take restaurant reservations
  • chalk up points or rewards to a customer’s loyalty account
  • find out whether rewards can be redeemed
  • act as a digital POS (point of sale) for to-go orders (or any customer check)
  • promote ancillary services like catering, special events, membership programs, and so on
  • estimate staffing needs (based on reservations, advanced orders and trends)
  • and much more

For fast food and fast casual restaurants that want an app, consider Starbucks as a model. Starbucks users can use the Starbucks mobile app to pay and order ahead so they can bypass the line, avoiding a potentially lengthy point of sale experience in-store, and receive promotions to entice them to return every day. Regardless of whether millennials will be taking their food to go or eating at your restaurant, enabling point of sale functionality through your website or mobile app can be an attractive perk for customers, especially if they are short on time.

Be healthy, be local.

Counting calories is so last year if you talk to millennials. Understanding the ingredients in your dishes as well as where they came from now takes precedence.

30% of Millennials Prefer to Eat Food Labeled as “Organic”

30 percent of millennials prefer to eat food that is labeled as organic. Many restaurants have taken part in the farm to table movement. The idea of this movement is the minimize the miles between your food source and your restaurant.

The great news is this kind of food doesn’t have to break the bank. Chipotle, and Five Guys are the most popular restaurants that have adopted the healthy and local menu. Chipotle serves meat with no human antibiotics while Five Guys writes their meat and potato source on their whiteboards every day. Make it a priority to help millennials understand where your restaurants food originates.

Be giving, be ethical.

Of all the generations, millennials are the most likely to visit a restaurant with good social ethics. 40 percent of millennials are more willing to endorse a company with eco-conscious values over a company without a societal stance.

40% of Millennials Prefer Restaurants that Express Eco-Conscious Values

Your restaurant in no exception. Think about Chick-Fil-A. Everything about their brand shows what they stand for; it’s easy to see how they are involved in their community. If your restaurant is involved in local community events, you should be publicizing your involvement on social media in order to attract philanthropic and charity-minded millennials.

Incorporating these four millennial drivers can help your restaurant capture the attention of this generation and attract more millennials.

Understanding the desires of the millennials will help your restaurant move faster as this generation continues to move into its buying power. While not all millennials have the same taste in food, they do look for the same qualities in choosing a restaurant. Adapting your restaurant to these changes now, will help not only help you attract millennials, but will also help you stay current, and stay resilient as times continue to change.

If your business depends on attracting and serving customers within a local area geographically, it’s never been more important to properly optimize your website, social profiles and internet marketing.

If you own a business that depends on attracting customers from the local area, it’s never been more important that you have an internet presence that is mobile friendly and optimized for local search. Forty percent of US consumers reportedly search for a local business once a day, and 66% of consumers use local search at least 3-4 times each week. In a local search research study by Immr and Street Fight, success hinges on local search for eleven types of businesses, in particular.

Here’s what the report found in two important categories, people who searched for those business types during a specific time period and people who purchased from the same types of businesses during that same period of time.

Eleven business types for which consumers searched online over the 12-month period:

  • Local entertainment (87%)
  • Local restaurants (84%)
  • Transportation (80%)
  • Local contractors (79%)
  • Local retail stores (77%)
  • Local automotive businesses (72%)
  • Local professional service providers (70%)
  • Local personal and fitness facilities or professionals (70%)
  • Local financial services (70%)
  • Local health care providers or facilities (67%)
  • Local grocery stores (61%)

And while local grocery store owners may be disappointed that only 6 of 10 consumers search for them locally, they should be heartened to realize that they top the second category of consideration. A whopping 96% of consumers reporting they had purchased from a local grocery store during the past year.

Business types from which consumers purchased during the 12-month period:

  • Local grocery stores (96%)
  • Local restaurants (94%)
  • Local retail stores (90%)
  • Local entertainment (82%)
  • Local automobile related retailers or service professionals (76%)
  • Local healthcare facilities or providers (75%)
  • Local personal and fitness facilities (65%)
  • Local financial services (63%)
  • Local transportation (41%)
  • Local contractors (36%)
  • Local professional services (31%)

Optimize your website for local search and maximize your small business marketing ROI

When it comes to what consumers were looking for on websites, trends vary from industry to industry. For instance, restaurant goers typically viewed more than one online menu before choosing a restaurant and were often looking for maps, directions and distance from their current location, whereas those searching for grocery stores were more typically looking for listings and hours of operation. The year also saw sales of mobile devices top those of PC sales, and mobile traffic now accounts for more than half of all internet traffic, and more than half of all online searches.

This small business internet marketing recipe can optimize your business’ presence online so that your business gets found in local search more often by members of your target audience:

  • Keyword research to identify the phrases local consumers use most frequently to find businesses like yours
  • Inclusion of the best keywords/phrases identified in your research on your website’s meta title, description and keyword fields
  • Inclusion of the best keywords/phrases identified in on-page content on your website (and don’t forget alt- tags for images, search engines can’t see pictures!)
  • Incorporation of keywords/phrases to optimize your social networks/status updates and email marketing
  • Enhancing your backlinks and content marketing strategies by publishing optimized blog articles on a regular basis
  • Development of a website that is both desktop and mobile-friendly, and whose content focuses on engaging consumers by optimizing the site visitor experience itself