Bare minimum technology for food and beverage businesses

Equipment, Technology & Innovation,
By Boelter

Technology is an unavoidable part of running a business, even in the food and beverage industry. You can have the best menu in town, but without the right tech, you’re leaving money on the table.

But knowing what tech tools to invest in can be tough. What is the bare minimum you actually need to stay relevant in today’s market? Here are the basic technology requirements of running a restaurant, bar or brewpub.

#1: A website
In this day and age, it’s a given that your business has a website. But not just any website! It should be visually attractive, informative and easy to navigate. Within a few clicks, potential guests should know where and when they can visit your establishment and what to expect once they’re there.
Also, your site absolutely needs to be mobile-optimized. In 2016, web traffic on mobile devices surpassed traffic on desktop computers, and that gap is only becoming wider. Whether a visitor is on a desktop or phone, your site should offer the same great experience. Not only that, but Google’s search results prioritize sites that are mobile-friendly, which could affect whether your site gets seen at all.

Not sure if your site is mobile friendly? Use this handy tool from Google, or simply pull out your phone and visit your own site. Is the text readable? Are buttons easy to click? If not, there’s a good chance that you’re losing out on potential customers.
#2: A social media presence
Your business needs to be on social media platforms that make sense for who you are and who your customers are. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube… There are countless ways to spread your latest news and events and build a fan base. Start with the platform your customers are likely using the most often.

Simply building a Facebook page is a good first step, but it’s not quite enough to stay top of mind. If you haven't shared a post in the last week, or if you never respond to messages, you're not making the most of social media. (There’s a reason why it’s called “social”!)

Post frequently enough that your audience remembers who you are. Be relevant, timely and authentic. Show who you are as a business! Photos and videos that show off your food or drinks are a great way to engage your customers. Try behind-the-scenes looks to offer followers something special.

If your schedule is tight, managing a social presence can seem overwhelming. Try designating a manager, bartender or server that you trust to post a few times per week.

#3: A customer management system
You’re attracting customers. Great! Now you need to have some sort of device or system in place to store their information.

Even if business is booming right now, there might come a time when tables are empty. That’s when you’ll wish you had a way to get in touch with everyone who has visited you before. Your customer management system saves the day!

There are lots of options that you can explore, based on your time and budget. You can gather emails or phone numbers, maybe with a fishbowl for people to drop business cards in. Just make sure you record the information somewhere.

If your business needs a stronger system, you might want to consider having a mobile app. Customers can download your app and provide basic information in exchange for your special offers. When business is slow, send them a message and remind them of the great experience they had. There won’t be an empty table in the house.

When you're ready to get started, we're here to help. Work with the Boelter Blue team to create a mobile app and website that are customized to your business's unique needs.