Table of contents
Written by Amina Gilani, co-founder of Sociavore and co-owner of YIAYIA.
Having worked with thousands of restaurant professionals at Sociavore, I fully understand the importance of providing a strong digital guest experience. In fact, it's why my co-founder and husband, Thusenth, and I started Sociavore in the first place - to provide restaurants with the software tools they need to succeed online while keeping the realities of operating a restaurant in mind. Our goal is to make it easy for restaurants to deliver an exceptional online guest experience, and we've put this philosophy into practice at our own restaurant, YIAYIA (yiayia.ca).
At YIAYIA, we take pride in offering a one-of-a-kind experience that celebrates our love for food and family. While our menu has a modern twist on Mediterranean staples, our approach to hospitality is rooted in tradition, prioritizing direct relationships with our guests and delivering a perfect guest experience every single time. As a result, I am on a mission to deliver outstanding digital hospitality, especially since YIAYIA is a takeout and delivery restaurant with no seats.
In keeping with our philosophy of keeping things simple, we use a few carefully selected tools to achieve superior results. Our front-of-house tech stack at YIAYIA includes Sociavore for commission-free online ordering, gift cards, catering leads, and guest feedback; Square for POS and payments; and Flodesk for email marketing.
In this post, I want to share some key insights and learnings I've gained from my experience with the website and ordering process at YIAYIA. In a future post, I'll delve into how we're using guest data to improve our communication with customers.
Percentage of guests that research a restaurant online before dining
Prioritize Your Restaurant's Website
Your restaurant's website is the foundation of your digital guest experience. It's often the first point of contact for potential customers, and it's where you can establish your brand and build trust with your guests. A well-designed website can also increase your search engine visibility and drive more traffic to your restaurant. It is the only place on the internet that a restaurant can own and control.
At YIAYIA, we know firsthand just how crucial it is to have a website that is fully branded, mobile-optimized, and up-to-date. We use Sociavore to power our website, which simplifies the process of keeping our website up-to-date and ensures that our branding is consistent across all channels.
When designing your restaurant's website, here are some best practices to keep in mind:
- Use high-quality images that showcase your food and restaurant
- Make sure your website is mobile-optimized for a seamless experience on all devices
- Keep your website up-to-date with your menu, hours of operation, location details, and contact information
- Include a call-to-action on your website, such as "Order Now" or "Make a Reservation"
- Make sure your website is accessible to all guests, including those with disabilities
Simplify the Ordering Experience
At YIAYIA, we understand that making the ordering process easy and repeatable is essential to provide an exceptional guest experience. That's why we rely on Sociavore for commission-free online ordering, which ensures a fully-branded ordering experience for our guests. Our ordering experience is designed to be simple and intuitive, with clear instructions and minimal steps, making it easy for guests to place their orders hassle-free.
By using our own domain (yiayia.ca) for online ordering, we not only make it convenient for our guests but also boost our restaurant's SEO. Search engines like Google trust websites that have direct online ordering systems on their own domain names as credible and trustworthy sources for users looking for specific dishes. Investing in a direct online ordering system is an excellent way for restaurants to prioritize restaurant SEO and grow their online presence.
We offer multiple payment options, including Apple Pay and Google Pay, which are becoming increasingly popular. Guests can save their credit card and address information in their account for future orders or check out as a guest. Currently 22% of our guests use a digital wallet (Apple Pay and Google Pay) to place orders.
Our ordering system is designed to deliver a personalized and efficient experience, enhancing guest satisfaction and ultimately driving long-term value for YIAYIA. Our primary objective is to attract and retain new customers, recognizing that retaining existing ones is more cost-effective than acquiring new ones.
We studied the data provided by Bikky, a CDP (Customer Data Platform) specifically designed for restaurants, and compared it with YIAYIA's own data. The results were interesting: Bikky's data showed a trend where a large majority of first-time guests (around 80-90%) didn't return after their initial order. However, YIAYIA managed to achieve a much lower churn rate of only 43% among first-time guests, indicating that a significant portion (57%) of them returned for another order. This highlights the crucial importance of welcoming and nurturing customers to establish long-term loyalty.
Numerous studies consistently support the idea that retaining loyal customers is more financially beneficial than continually attracting new ones. Loyal customers tend to spend more compared to newly acquired customers. Additionally, when customers come back repeatedly, it indicates their satisfaction and often leads to increased profitability. Interestingly, research conducted by Harvard Business School has shown that even a small 5% increase in customer retention rates can result in impressive profit growth ranging from 25% to 95%.
To simplify the ordering experience for your guests, here are some best practices to keep in mind:
- Use your own domain for online ordering
- Use clear and simple language in your ordering instructions
- Provide visual cues to guide guests through the ordering process
- Offer multiple payment options, including digital wallets
- Collect guest data to provide a more personalized experience and increase guest lifetime value
At YIAYIA, we use elegant upsell techniques to increase our order value and generate more revenue with our online ordering. With our online ordering platform, we've added photos to our menu items and modifiers to provide a beautiful visual experience to our guests as they browse our menu.
Our online ordering menu allows guests to add suggested complementary items to their cart. We've added drinks and desserts as optional modifiers to our menus where guests can easily add these items to their cart. It's a seamless and enjoyable experience. When we added these optional modifier groups, we saw an increase in our average order value with more high-margin items being added on.
Similarly, we have add-ons and upgrades built into our ordering menu where guests can easily add additional toppings and sides for additional charges, and they can also create a bundled deal. This approach works!
Maximizing Your Google Business Profile for Restaurant Success
At YIAYIA, we know that optimizing our Google Business Profile is crucial for driving revenue from Google Searches. One way we achieve this is by ensuring that our ordering links on the profile lead to the most profitable channels, which is our direct online ordering experience.
It's important to remember that Google's main goal is to help users quickly find the information they need, whether that's making a reservation or placing a takeout order. While saving restaurants on commission fees is not a top priority for Google, creating and updating your Google Business Profile can help steer potential customers toward your restaurant's direct ordering channels, rather than third-party marketplaces like Uber Eats or OpenTable. To make the most of your Google Business Profile, be sure to keep it updated with accurate information and optimize your ordering links to drive revenue to your direct online ordering system. With the right approach, you can use Google's vast reach to boost your restaurant's visibility and attract more customers.
Using Sociavore's integration with Order with Google is a powerful tool that helps YIAYIA maximize our online visibility and reach more customers through Google. This integration allows us to easily integrate our ordering menu with Google, enabling customers to place orders directly from Google Search, Maps, or Assistant.
Here are best practices to make the most of your restaurant’s Google Business Profile:
- Keep your Google Business Profile updated with accurate information to help potential customers find your restaurant quickly and easily.
- Optimize your ordering links on your Google Business Profile to steer customers towards your direct ordering channels, rather than third-party marketplaces, and boost your restaurant's visibility.
- Use Sociavore's integration with Order with Google.
In conclusion, I believe that providing a strong digital guest experience is critical for the success of any restaurant. By operating YIAYIA, my team and I have gained valuable insights and learnings from my experience with the website and ordering process. We prioritize our website, simplify the ordering experience, and implement elegant upselling techniques to boost revenue and guest lifetime value. We also know that optimizing our Google Business Profile attracts more customers and drives revenue. By following these best practices, I believe that restaurant owners can deliver an exceptional online guest experience and achieve long-term success.