That’s correct! It’s not only possible to grow your restaurant with an online presence, but it’s currently happening.

Oftentimes restaurateurs don’t see the need for a website. “I want to spread through word of mouth,” is usually the response when I ask them about their online presence. It is possible to gain new customers that way, but it’s not assured. However, having an online presence such as a website with a menu, and particularly in relation to an online ordering app, noticeably increase a restaurant’s chances for success.

The Proof is in the Pudding

Take TGI Friday’s for example. Like most of their casual dining counterparts, the well-established chain was suffering from painfully low sales. That is, until they took a chance and implemented an online order feature to boost sales. Boost it did! In their first year, TGI Friday’s has reported 30% growth in sales. The incredible results from online ordering didn’t stop there. The average online order was typically 7.2% higher than a dine-in order. For a restaurant as established as TGI Friday’s, they even claimed 70% of online orders came from new customers! These aren’t even necessarily Millennials either; the spokesperson reported online orders are coming from people of all ages.

Order Up

Implementing online ordering for an established giant like TGI Friday’s might have seemed like a risky jump. However, even in 2014 and 2015 the signs of likely success for online ordering were there. TechCrunch published that takeout and delivery account for as much as $70 billion in the restaurant industry. At the time of this report about online food ordering, online sales accounted for $9 billion alone! That’s just under 13% of total takeout delivery sales! And the trend was only projected to rise.

The researchers at Morgan Stanley have reported that the online ordering and delivery trend is indeed rising and “it is growing rapidly.” In July of 2017, a survey of 8,000 participants revealed some jaw-dropping results. Year-over-year interest in dining out and delivery has steadily risen with more people ordering delivery from restaurants (47% from 44%) and 5% more people reported that over the previous year a delivery had replaced the meal they would have otherwise eaten at the restaurant. And finally, most notably, participation in online ordering rose from 15% in 2016 to 18% this year, with participants noting that they are increasingly interested in online ordering.

As online ordering becomes more mainstream, with major chains like Domino’s, Panera, and even McDonald’s releasing their own ordering and delivery apps, this is 100% the train to jump on. You should jump on it now.

If you don’t have the funds to make your own online ordering app, what can you do?

What You’re Going To Do

At Opichi, we highly recommend having your own website. Even if it’s a small placeholder with your contact info and basic menu information, having a web presence does your business a world of good. As consumers move online to find (new) food and delivery or take-out options, you need to be where those consumers are going.

Second, we recommend aligning yourself with online ordering apps, specifically Seamless, Grubhub, Eat24, and Google highly values these authentic ordering apps. These two actions–having a website and linking with online ordering—will help set your business up for better staying power and help you spread the word about your incredible restaurant. If online ordering can grow TGI Friday’s sales by 30% in the first year, what can it do for an authentic local restaurant like yours with a passionate fan base?

If you need a website, or don’t have the time to align yourself with these online ordering hubs, you can contact me at Opichi and we can create a solution for you!

Trust me—skip on the big flat screen TV for the restaurant and instead invest in these two things. When I want to watch TV while I’m eating, I’ll order in and stay home to stream Hulu. Online ordering and delivery is the future of dinner and a show.

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