Apple states in a television commercial that there are over 500,000 apps and growing! Everybody has a Smartphone! Mobile usage is up, people who own tablets essentially doubled in a month!
And here are some more stats:
According to Nielsen 28% of cell phone users in the US have smart phones
More than 80,000,000 new users are expected by the end of the year this year alone
41% of new phones sold in the past 4 months have been smart phones
More than half of all iPhone users are over 44 years old
According to .com there are 142.8 million smart phone users in the US
Source: Restaurant Smart Phone Apps In the interest of full disclosure, I am a fan of Mark Laux and HotOperator and it is Mark’s recent post on mobile apps that inspired me to write this post. HotOperator is an elite group that understands the restaurant business and most importantly the menu.
So every restaurant needs their own mobile app, right?
In my opinion, NO!
But let me explain, currently developers have been building mobile apps for everything that consumers touch and that’s understandable since consumers are flocking to the mobile devices. Most importantly, one of the largest groups flocking to mobile devices are people over 44. Over 44, are you kidding? Yep, over 44, the ones with the money. So for marketers and developers that is an incredible demographic. But what about all of those kids, aren’t they “app-happy” too? Of course they are and marketers and developers love them too.
Here’s where we are today, mobile apps are becoming ubiquitous for QSR’s (Quick Service Restaurants) and the younger demographic (app-happy) is very active with these. But what about Independent Restaurants? Well with over 180,000 independent restaurants in the US, the marketers and developers are aggressively pursuing them because after all if it works for chains it should work for independents. Many developers have gained backing from venture capitalists after successfully building apps for many chain restaurants. Now, they want to push the model out to independents.
So what’s the problem? In my opinion, many independent restaurants could benefit from mobile apps but only if their brand is buttoned-down.
How about your menu? Is it doing what it should do, is it profitable?
Are people talking positively about your brand in social spaces? Are you happy with your social profiles?
How well is your interaction with your brand in the social spaces? Are you the only one doing the talking?
Do you currently have pictures that you would be proud to share all over the internet?
Are your internal touch points customer friendly?
How about your online profile as it currently exists? Are you happy with it?
Have you claimed your Google Places, Yelp, Tripadvisor, and Urbanspoon profiles?
If you can answer yes to all of these questions and probably about a thousand more than you need to get a mobile app. My point is that unless you are 100% sure that you are ready for a mobile application don’t do it. Building an app that does not represent your brand well could have the unintended consequence of diminishing your brand and not enhancing it.
Here’s my bottomline for independent restaurants:
1. Build your Brand from the inside out
2. Never subordinate your brand with that of someone else
3. Never, Never, Ever Discount!