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My friend Vince was eager to find out what he should do with his restaurant’s old website and whether there were any ways to get more diners in the door.

This got me excited and I jumped straight into it…

“Easy. Let’s first work out what you want to achieve, then we can look at what services you need to do that. Once we’ve nutted all that out we can work out a corresponding ballpark figure.”

Now we were off and running.

“Okay. This is going to sound a little Dr Phil like, but it’s an important question. Why do you actually want to get a website for your restaurant?”. 

“I want to get more customers, because I want the place full during the week. We’re hitting 60-70% occupancy rates during peak dining times, which is just not good enough given all my fixed costs like staff and rent. So yeah, more customers.”

“Perfect. Getting more customers is pretty much the number one reason for getting a website, so that makes total sense. Any other reasons for getting a website you can think of?”.

“Well, I’d also like to show off the place with nice photos and an online menu so people that have never dined here before can go online, check it all out and see that it’s a great place to come for dinner.”

“For sure. You want to help potential diners to make the decision to book. That’s huge, because I know when I’m looking for a place to eat I’ll usually check out 5-6 nearby restaurants and book the one that looks good and has the best menu, and obviously I do this via the Internet. So that makes total sense. Great. What else?”

“That’s pretty much it really. More customers, more turnover.”, said Vince, ready for me to hit him with a cost estimate.

“Okay, cool. Well, let me run a few more potential reasons for getting a website by you, and see if any sound interesting to you.”

I was now going to show him how websites can do so much more than just act as online brochures. I was excited and he was curious.

“When people search in Google for your restaurant, right now the number one thing popping up is Google Reviews and Urbanspoon. People will most likely click on either of them. That means the impression they are forming of your restaurant is based entirely on those reviews. Not all of which are great, as I’m sure you know.

Wouldn’t it be so much better if the first thing that popped up was your website, with your photos, your menu and your story? You would control the message. You would control your brand. So getting to the top of Google when people search for your restaurant, that’d be cool right?”

“Yeah we definitely want that. Especially because lots of those reviews are dodgy ones left by disgruntled competitors. We’d really like to be top of the search results.”

“Agreed. Let’s have a look at another potential reason. So these days a lot of potential diners are searching for restaurants on their mobile phones. They fire up their browser or Google maps, and just type in something like “Italian restaurants nearby”. Wouldn’t it be cool if your restaurant showed up on their Google Maps or search results as a nearby Italian restaurant?”

“Of course. They are qualified customers and ready to dine, so yeah, they are our ideal target market.”

“For sure. Wouldn’t it also be cool if when they click on your restaurant’s website they get directed to a special version of your website that is specially designed for the small mobile phone screen? That way they could easily see your menu, your phone number, and even booking details all on their mobile phone screen.”

“Yeah, no doubt. We would definitely want that too.”

We were both getting excited at this point. Vince could see how much a website could change his business and I could see his tables filling up as we spoke.

“Now as a restaurant I am guessing that around 80% of your diners at any one time are repeat diners. Which means your business is largely built on existing customers. Wouldn’t it be cool then if you could send these people news whenever you wanted, like the new summer menu, cool recipes or the week’s delicious specials, so that they come into the restaurant more often? Instead of coming in once a month, you could potentially get them coming in once a fortnight.”

“That’d be a dream. If we could get them returning more often, we could basically double our business.”, said Vince.

“Exactly! I guess you can see that a website is more than just some online brochure right. It’s a sales machine. But let’s keep brainstorming.”

I wasn’t done yet. In fact the ideas kept flowing in as I started thinking about what we’ve done to help existing clients grow their business and how so many of those ideas could be applied to Vince’s restaurant.

“Wouldn’t it also be awesome if you could reduce the amount of time you and your staff spend taking bookings, updating or cancelling bookings and generally answering the phone during busy service periods? And imagine also being able to take bookings even when you’re closed.”

“Obviously, that’d be fantastic too!”.

“Well, that’s just another thing we can achieve with your website, which I’ll explain in a minute. Okay, what else… What about this one. Wouldn’t it be interesting if you knew all kinds of stuff about your customer base, like which suburbs they come from or what they thought about the service, the food, the ambience?”

“No one ever fills in our customer surveys forms, so I have no idea. I’ve always been trying to guess that sort of info. I’d love to find out. But how?!”

“I’ll walk you through it all in a minute. But let me first run a few more things by you. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could setup a system where staff could swap their shifts with each other automatically, without your help? You would save hours every week on rostering alone.”

Vince’s head was starting to bob yes yes yes in an almost hypnotic way.

He could see how much a website could change his business. It had the potential to fill all those empty tables and really make the restaurant profitable again. It could also even save him 100s of hours of time, which meant $1000s in reduced wages, not to mention the improved customer service that would simultaneously arise. And headaches caused by bookings, staff rostering and everything in between, would quickly be a thing of the past.

Now he wanted to know how it was all possible.

What sort of technical voodoo was I planning?

Oh yeah, and like any good restaurateur he still wanted to know how much it would all cost him.

“So we’ve nutted out all the reasons you want a website and what you want to achieve with it. Some were obvious, but many were less obvious right. Now let’s work out how we will achieve these goals, because once we know how, we can work out how much it will all cost.”

“I’m starting to think this will cost a lot more than I originally thought”.

“You are right, because now we’re talking about more than a simple website. We’re talking about a full on system that will increase sales, save time & money, and eliminate all kinds of headaches. But don’t worry, it’s not going to be that bad.

More importantly, you have to start looking at a website as an investment, not a cost. I mean, if it can bring you in 10-20 extra tables a week and save you 100 hours a month, what’s that worth to you?”

“Around $1000 in extra takings a week I guess, and roughly $2500 in reduced costs a month.”

“Right. So it could make an $80,000 a year difference to your business! That’s pretty freaking cool right?! And think about how much money you have spent on other things that haven’t brought in anything like that amount of extra business?! Hello, $3000 in annual Yellow Pages advertising for almost no new business. Or what about the $100,000 you spent refitting the dining room…how much extra sales do you think that generated?”

“Yeah, yeah, get on with it.”, Vince said with a half joking, half regretful tone. He was enjoying the conversation, but it was also bringing up some sore spots!

“Okay, so the way I see it is you need 5 main services…

First, you need a smartly designed website of course. This will be the place people come to see how great your restaurant is. This is the thing that will help people decide whether to book a table or not. In that sense it will convert potential customers into paying diners. It’s like your digital salesman.

To make sure it does its job and actually convinces people that your restaurant is the place to go, we need to make sure the site speaks to them. That means the writing, the photos, the layout, everything has to be designed to resonate with them. So we need to research and understand who your customer is, so we can then design a site that turns eyeballs into bums on seats.”

“Yep, I get that. You’re saying we can’t just whack together any old site. It needs to be heavily researched and thought out. This sounds a lot more involved than just putting up a 5 page website. But I get that unless it’s done well, it won’t convince anyone.” Vince was getting up to speed fast!

“Exactly. Now with your existing customers, in order to get them coming in more often, we need to be able to communicate with them. To do that we should probably look at doing two things. First, we should setup some social media accounts for the restaurant like Facebook and Twitter. These will allow you to share cool photos of new dishes, promote upcoming special events and all kinds of stuff. You can even network with other businesses through Twitter, and get them promoting your restaurant to their 1000s of followers. That’s how we do word of mouth in the 21st century! Imagine say the local sports team or real estate agency talking up your Italian food to their fans, clients and employees through social media?! That’d have massive effects.

Secondly, we might also want to look at an online newsletter. This can contain all sorts of interesting info and news, and you can email it out to customers once a month. This is great for reminding them about your awesome food and staying on top of their minds. That way next time they think “Where should we go for dinner tonight?”, your place is going to be at the top of their list. They might not even have to think about it anymore. It’s just automatic. We call this email marketing and it’s crazy effective! And the really cool thing, is that we can collect their email info automatically through your website!”.

“That is exactly what we need to be doing. I’ve seen some of the restaurants in the city doing that and I’ve been wanting to do that, but I had no idea where to start. Great. But, what about new customers, new diners, how do we bring them in?”

“To attract brand new customers, we need to promote your restaurant online. There are several ways we can do that. One way is to pay for advertising like Google Ads or Facebook Ads. But I don’t generally recommend that, because you have to keep spending $100s and even $1000s every month – it never stops – and you don’t know if it is paying off.

The best thing to do is invest money upfront in some online marketing strategies that will keep bringing you customers long after you have paid for the setup. Let me explain this, because it’s super important. The most rewarding and most cost effective way to promote your website online is to make it ‘Google-friendly’. What that means, is to make the site attractive to Google, so that when people type into Google things like “Italian restaurant sandringham” or “best pasta Melbourne” your restaurant shows up at the top of Google search results. The technical term for this service is SEO, which means Search Engine Optimization. It is not cheap, but after you invest in the upfront cost that’s it, you don’t need to keep paying monthly fees like you would for traditional advertising or Google Ads. Also, we do all the technical stuff, so it’s nice and easy for you. You do have to come up with good content though. So yeah, that’d definitely be must-have service.”

“It’s pretty competitive around here and with the economic climate the way it is business is down for everyone, so are there any additional ways we can attract new customers?”, Vince asked.

“Well, we can do a few other things for sure. The coolest option that springs to mind is to promote your restaurant on restaurant directories like Eatability, That’s Melbourne, AGFG and Broadsheet, to name but a few. They get 1000s of people visiting their sites every day, looking for great food like yours. The best thing is they don’t charge a flat fee like Yellow Pages do – you remember back in the day when you paid $2000 for an ad and had no idea if it brought in extra customers?!

Instead these guys get a dollar or two each time someone sees your restaurant on their website and most importantly, makes a booking at your restaurant. How cool is that?! You only pay, when you get a new booking! This marketing system is all run through a company called DIMMI, which we can also help you get setup with and integrate into your website.”

“This is sounding too good to be true. I’m super excited. We have to get moving on this stuff asap, I’ve held it off way too long.”, said Vince.

“Yeah and don’t forget there are a bunch of other cool things we can do too. For example, we can setup a gift voucher system on your website. That means existing customers who love your restaurant could jump onto your site anytime of day and buy a voucher for their friends. All automatic, even the payment. Most of all that means brand new customers trying out your restaurant.

Another cool example, we could use website analytics to find out which suburbs your customers are coming from, and then we could do targeted advertising to those locations, instead of just advertising mindlessly. That’ll make sure you get a great return on any money you do decide to spend on ads.”

“What about the saving time and not having to answer the phone point you mentioned? How can we do that?”, Vince asked.

“DIMMI and Restaurant Diary. This combination is going to make your life soooo easy. So basically what we can do is setup DIMMI for you, which is an online booking service, and we can then integrate it into your website. To book people just jump on your website, hit the big yellow button and book away. All automatic. When they book you also capture their email address and full name, which means you can see how many times they’ve eaten with you before, you can send your online newsletter to them and since they disclose more info than a usual booking, no-shows are almost a thing of the past! And once again, all automatic.

We would also need to setup Restaurant Diary to make this all work. It’s an online reservations system, which takes the bookings made through DIMMI and shows it all on your restaurant’s computer. You can throw out the reservations book. With people booking anytime of day, and even from their phone, you’ll get so many fewer phone calls. And less interruptions, means less staff time wasted on the phone when they should be taking orders, running food and making diners happy. So this won’t just save your staff time, but it will improve your customer service so much.

Another bonus, when people book with DIMMI on your website or a partner site, after they’ve eaten at your restaurant they are automatically emailed a survey on how they found your food and service. And most diners fill this in, because it is so easy to do on their computer, in their spare time. You’ll learn more about your restaurant in one week using this service, than you have in one year of playing the guessing game.”

“Done! I think we’re going to need all of this. And I mean all! So how much will it all cost?”

“Well, we still need to work out a few things, but not too many.

Like do you want a new logo to match your new website? Do you want to be able to edit the website once it’s up and do you need training for this? Do you want help with copywriting for the site? Do you need website and email hosting? And a few more things. But let’s have a look at some ballpark website cost figures.”

Even though I still hadn’t given Vince a firm price estimate, by this point he was less concerned about dollars and cents, and more fascinated by how much of an impact his new website could have on his business and how it had the potential to increase his takings by potentially over $1000 a week.

His mindset had changed.

He was also starting to see that his website could cost as much or as little as he wanted.

He could dictate the price based on what he wanted to achieve with it and which corresponding services he wanted to to take up to make that happen.

Vince was clearly no longer interested in a simple website that acts as a glorified online brochure. He wanted a complete online setup that would bring him in more diners and more takings, not to mention save him hours of time, improve customer service and provide him with invaluable information on who his customer is and what they like and dislike about his restaurant.

But since we’d hashed out what he wanted and what we could do to achieve this, it was now time to talk dollars and cents.

“As you can imagine…” I told him, “…if you were to go with just a simple brochure website, it wouldn’t cost that much. Something like $750-$1000 should get you a 5-10 page functioning website, that looks alright.

But on the flip side, this sort of website is also not going to do much for your restaurant. It will probably just sit there in cyber space collecting digital dust.

Almost no one will visit it because no one knows it exists since the site is not SEO optimized or promoted online using social media, partner websites and whatnot.

As you can see, getting a website is a bit like opening a restaurant – unless you promote it, people won’t automatically just come. Actually, it’s worse than opening a restaurant, because online there is no such thing as ‘foot traffic’.

But if you miraculously do get some people to your simple brochure-style website, then the few people that do visit, probably won’t book a table at your restaurant, because the site is not particularly attractive or enticing to them. Meaning it hasn’t been designed and written to convert eyeballs into bums on seats.

“Yeah, yeah I get all that. But…”

“Hang on, I want to show you something really important…

If you did just go with a simple $750-$1000 online brochure website that doesn’t help your business grow, then that is a $1000 expense. It’s a cost, not an investment. Actually, worse, by trying to save a few dollars now, you would end up losing out on the chance to earn $1000s in new sales and save $1000s in costs. That would be a huge missed opportunity. And that’s the real cost you should be focusing on.”

I didn’t need to explain this to Vince for too long. In fact, I think he got it 2 minutes earlier.

But it was just so important to get across the idea that trying to save money on getting a website, will in most cases end up costing you 10 or 20 times that amount in missed opportunity, every year, year after year.

“I get it.”

He got it.

He was now the one convincing me he needed a full on website setup!

He wanted to have a high converting and smartly designed website that turned visitors into bums on seats.

He wanted to make use of social media and email marketing to get existing customers to dine more.

He wanted to use SEO and online marketing to attract brand new customers.

And boy did he want to make use of all those cool tools like DIMMI and Restaurant Diary to save him and his staff 100s of hours of time.

He saw this would be an investment worth every dollar.

“So how much will this all cost…you’ve certainly taken your time. I thought this would be a 5 minute phone call!”

“Haha, okay okay. So you can expect to pay between $1000 and $3000 for the smartly designed and high converting website. The ultimate price depends on what functionality you want it to have, eg gift voucher system, and on whether you want other things such as help with writing the text, a new logo etc.

Meanwhile you can expect to pay anywhere from $1000 to $5000 for the online marketing related work. Once again, the exact price depends on which services you take up, ranging from SEO to email marketing to social media and beyond. And for the time saving services like DIMMI and Restaurant Diary, it could be anything between $500 and $2000.”

“These ranges are pretty wide!”

“Yeah, and what happens most of the time, is that the final amount would probably be around the middle of the range. But then again, you might decide you don’t need it all or have the budget at the minute to afford it all. That’s cool, as we can offer the most important stuff now, and then down the track you can think about getting the other work done.

That way you could get your website up and running now for around $1800, which includes copywriting help and a new logo, along with some online marketing, like on-page SEO and email marketing, for around the $1200 mark. Total. That’s a pretty nice figure. Especially, when you know that this investment will actually help you achieve your goals…more diners, more takings.”

“Let’s get started!”.

Vince and I had finally nutted it all out together. We knew what he wanted to achieve and exactly what services would get him there. He knew which services to take up now and which to consider in the future. We were ready to get started on his $3000 website and online marketing project.

If it brings in anything close to potentially 10-20 additional tables a week, Vince will earn back the cost of his website in less than a month.

Should you follow Vince’s approach?

If you can see how a smartly designed website paired with online marketing can transform your business, and are ready to make the investment, then we would love to hear from you and work 1-1 to grow your business.

The next step would be to phone us on 1300 726 614 or contact us here, and then we can setup a time to talk about your business and work out what you want to achieve online.

Once we know exactly what you want to achieve, we can recommend a variety of services that would help us get there. You can choose whichever services appeal most to you and fit within your budget. That way you can make the investment that suits your business.

You can even decide to invest in a few services to begin with, and then think about investing in others down the track. Whatever makes the most sense to you.

So contact us now and let’s get started on transforming your business using the web. It’ll be a lot of work, but it will be extremely rewarding. In today’s increasingly digital world, investing in your website and online marketing is perhaps the single best business decision you can make.

P.S. When you start asking web designers for prices and quotes, make sure they take the time to understand your business and your goals before they quote you.

If they don’t, you could miss out on important services that have the potential to completely transform your business, eg SEO and email marketing.

Here at eChimp we always spend a lot of 1-1 time with our clients to work out exactly what they want and need, before we present a range of services that will help them achieve those goals. Best of all, when we present this range of services, it is done on a ‘pick & choose’ basis. Which means you only choose the services which are most attractive to you and which fit your budget.

This approach makes sense and this approach is why our clients recommend usto all their friends and family. Call us on 1300 726 614 or contact us here to get started.

Thanks for reading!