Keep informed of the latest news, trends, strategies and tips for Restaurants

Restaurant Mobile Apps

Mobile Apps: Are They Right For My Restaurant?

Posted by Kate Seiferth | 6/3/2013 | Restaurant Mobile Apps

Make your restaurant mobileOur MojoBistro support team receives many questions from restaurant owners about developing mobile apps, and the how and why of it all. Questions like... Is a mobile app right for my restaurant? Why do I need a mobile app for my restaurant? Is a custom app worth the investment? Can’t I just use the Yelp app to market my restaurant?

The short answer is really a question: Don’t you want to be where your customers are?

With more and more people jumping on the smartphone bandwagon, if you aren’t available on mobile then you might get overlooked as a restaurant brand. According to comScore, 133.7 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones at the end of February 2013. That’s a lot of people searching for a restaurant to eat at while on the go. A lot of people that could find your app in the app store and subsequently dine at your restaurant (return on investment!).

According to an April 2013 update from Smart Insights, “App usage (80% of time) dominates browsers in mobile usage.”

While managing your Yelp presence is important to your marketing plan, so is having a custom branded appearance in the app stores. Custom branded apps are the best way to connect with your mobile customer. You have full control of what goes in your mobile app. For instance with a custom branded MojoBistro app, your restaurant can feature your restaurant’s story, menu, events, social media accounts, and much more.

Many mobile app platforms like MojoBistro give restaurant owners the ability to interact with customers via push notification and coupons. These are prime ways to increase your app popularity with your mobile customers. Use these functions to remind them of special events at your restaurant and offer them personalized discounts based on their dining preferences.

We would not be doing what we are doing here at MojoBistro if we thought your restaurant did not need a mobile app. At MojoBistro, we believe that mobile apps are an important part of a successful restaurant’s marketing strategy. And, we believe your app should be completely loaded with features without a high price tag. Interested? Contact us today!

Tips for Encouraging Users to Keep Your Mobile App on Their Phone

Posted by Kate Seiferth | 5/10/2013 | Restaurant Mobile Apps

Keep Your Mobile App on Their PhoneIt is tempting to create your restaurant’s mobile app and then leave it in the app store for your customers to discover on their own. However, it is a more prosperous tactic to be proactive and promote your app where you know your customers will see it—in your restaurant!

In addition to consistently promoting your restaurant’s mobile app on marketing materials throughout your restaurant, it is also a smart idea to keep your app updated and filled with fresh content. Do you have a seasonal menu special that could be added? Do you have a special happy hour or wine tasting event that you can promote in the calendar section of your app? These are all savvy ways to keep your app content fresh and engage your mobile app audience.

Basically the rules of encouraging users to keep your restaurant’s mobile app on their phone are simple. Keep the app updated, promote your app around your restaurant, and utilize the interactive features of your app to keep app consumers engaged. That means dedicating a couple hours each month (at least) to looking over your mobile app for any holes that could be filled with new content. Think about new events, photos, menu items, and more that you can add to your app to spruce it up on at least a monthly basis.

Here are some more specific suggestions for engaging your app consumers:

Hook Customers with Mobile Coupons and Keep Them Coming Back to Your App and Your Restaurant!:
Offering app users a special coupon immediately after they download your restaurant’s app is a smart start! Providing them with an instant benefit is a tasty incentive to join your mobile base. Follow up on a routine basis and give them soon-to-expire coupons to drive consistent traffic and encourage customer loyalty.

Utilize Push Notifications to Increase Customer Engagement with Your App:
Be clever and timely with your push notifications to increase customer response. Instead of the standard number “codes” try something more memorable, like a clever phrase promoting a new menu item or special event. Send out fun facts or tidbits of information about your restaurant or menu in addition to specials and deals. Whatever you send, make sure that you are providing valuable information to you customers.

Allow Diners to Make Reservations Through Your App:
Putting reservation capabilities in the palm of your customer’s hand is a delicious benefit for them to keep your mobile app on their phone. And with the ability to make online reservations ranking near the top of the list in a Washington Post survey, it is important that your restaurant meets this growing demand. Making it easy to book a table with your restaurant’s mobile app is a simple way to turn diners into loyal app users.

Create a Loyalty Program:
Speaking of loyal customers, why not use your app to offer a loyalty program and reward customers for frequent dining? Loyalty programs allow restaurants to collect important information from customers like contact information, birthdays, anniversaries, and more. You can then use this information to tailor deals specifically to each individual app user. Talk about fabulous customer service!

Read more about promoting your app in-house with marketing materials.

5 Ways to Increase Holiday Traffic with your Restaurant's Mobile App

Posted by Kate Seiferth | 11/28/2012 | Restaurant Mobile Apps

5 Ways to Increase Holiday Traffic with your Restaurant's Mobile AppDon’t forget to take advantage of updating your iPhone and Android apps in order to drive extra traffic into your restaurant this holiday season. It’s the best time of year to offer an extra incentive to loyal diners or take the time to organize a new event or promotion in order to attract new customers and ultimately boost your holiday revenue.
Here are 5 ways to increase holiday traffic with your restaurant's mobile app:

1. Promote Holiday Events
Add any and all holiday-themed events to your in-app calendar so your guests always know what’s happening next at your restaurant. The more events you offer, the more chances that a guest will be intrigued to stop in for an after work cocktail or an impromptu holiday supper with family and friends. Think wine tastings, deals on bar food and brew for football and basketball games, or even just as a simple as a special holiday happy hour with festive cocktails and some free passed appetizers. Most people are looking for an excuse to get out of the house to mix and mingle during the holiday season so offer a festive holiday event, promote it in your smartphone app, and they will come.

2. Send Push Notifications
Remind guests about holiday deals and events with push notifications. Send push notifications about gift certificate specials like buy one get one deals and remind guests that gift cards make super smart stocking stuffers! Or, send reminders about booking holiday parties for family, friends, and businesses. Push notifications can drive traffic quickly when used properly. But steer clear of sending too many push notifications that may overwhelm your app users. Once or twice a week is a good rule of thumb and always make sure that the timing is right. Why not schedule a push notification for 3 p.m. on a Friday to remind last-minute diners to grab their weekend reservations?

3. Encourage Reservations
Make it easy for guests to reserve a table by offering reservation services within your personalized app. Offering in-app reservation capabilities streamlines the process for both your patrons and your staff. Guests may think twice about calling in for a reservation when they know they can just open up your app and secure their table. That means more time preparing the restaurant and escorting guests to their tables for your hostesses and less time talking on the phone to frazzled guests who just want to reserve a table.

4. Offer Coupons
Have you noticed less dining traffic in your restaurant on certain nights of the week during the holidays? Attract guests to make their way to your restaurant on your slow nights by offering special coupons via your mobile phone app. A buy one get one free entree coupon for a Tuesday night might just entice a reluctant diner to add another night of eating out to their calendar. Make sure they continue to pick your restaurant by periodically offering relevant coupons through your app throughout the year.

5. Feature Holiday Menu Items
Update your menu with any special holiday items you are offering during this festive season. Add appetizing photos of featured holiday dishes and don’t forget those yummy desserts! What better way to entice diners to swing by and try your restaurant out again then by featuring a new dish or dessert in your iPhone and Android apps.

Do you have questions about creating a mobile app for your restaurant? Check out features of MojoBistro and feel free to contact us with any questions. We are happy to help answer any questions you may have about generating buzz with mobile apps for your restaurant. Happy Holidays!

Top 5 Ways to Keep Restaurants Successful During a Slow Economy

Posted by Mike Mulhausen | 10/26/2012 | Restaurant Mobile Apps

top 5 ways to keep restaurants successful during a slow economyLiving in the Chicago Southwest suburban village of Orland Park has provided my family and me with a great place to live and play. Great schools, decent location to highways and commuter trains, plenty of places of worship, a plethora of car dealerships and yes, lots of restaurants. In fact, if you are ever in the vicinity of LaGrange Road between 143rd and 167th Streets, you will understand what I mean by saying “lots of restaurants”. From the national chains to the single, family owned locations, Orland Park has a restaurant for just about everybody. While the unemployment numbers and general poor economy keeps coming up in the headlines and presidential debates, it baffles me to drive down LaGrange Road on a Friday or Saturday night and see all of the restaurant parking lots full and people hanging out in front of these restaurants waiting for tables. “Recession Proof” is how my wife described these restaurants on one of our recent excursions.

To be fair, Orland Park is by itself an anomaly to the rest of the area. People come from surrounding areas due to their somewhat lackluster choices they have in their own towns just to frequent one of these establishments. And not unlike restaurants in other cities, even Orland Park restaurants have seen their share of economic hangovers. Filling tables is seemingly a lot easier on the weekends but not so easy during the off peak hours.

So what should restaurants do to remain successful during a slow economy?

Make sure you address the following 5 areas:

1.) Staff
Keep them Focused - Increasing the average per-person check doesn’t happen unless you have the right staff in place to do this. If you are ever going to increase sales in this economy, it has to start with the customers you have. That can only happen with the right labor in place to satisfy the needs of your customers. Keep your staff focused on one main objective: hospitality.

Provide Training and Development – Continuously look for ways to improve your staff. By educating them on your menu, how to interact with your customers and the general blending or professionalism with personality, your staff is often the only touch point, food excluded, that your customers have with your restaurant. They should be the ideal representative for you in every facet of your business. Arm them with the tools they need - through training and development - to take on this heavy responsibility.

2.) Menu
Keep it Fresh – Freedom to choose their sides through a la carte items and heart healthy options have been well documented in the latest trend reports for the restaurant industry. Changing up your menus provides your customers with options and demonstrates that you are on their side when it comes to offering variety in your menus.
Yet, Stay the Course – You are famous for a particular dish and people drive for miles just to taste it. Don’t mess with success. Remain that destination and make their visit one they keep talking about to all of their friends and family.

3.) Marketing and Promotions
Someone once said that 50% of his advertising spend was wasted – he just didn’t know which 50% it was. Marketing and promotions can cost your restaurant a lot. To make it more confusing, every advertising rep you talk with tells you how great their options are. First you have the traditional outbound marketing methods like a newspaper advertisement or even direct mail coupons. Grounded in hope, you try and reach your customers in places you think they may be. Alternatively, non-traditional, inbound marketing methods like having a good Search Engine Optimization (SEO) program in place where customers find your restaurant through the search engines are becoming a much more effective way to get some attention for your restaurant.

4.) Social Media - Making it work for your restaurant
They say that referrals from friends and family are the most important source that people look to when deciding on things. Considering that people also tend to mention a bad experience 20X more often than a good experience, it makes sense to have a presence where customers may go to express their feelings about their experiences with your restaurant. Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, etc. Are all on-line places where people like to hang out and talk about anything and everything. Make it a point to monitor anything related to your restaurant. Engage your customers by participating in these social sites with things like discount offerings or postings on the very latest happenings at your restaurant.

5.) Using Technology to your Advantage
10 Years ago, if you were to tell me that I could look around a restaurant and see a few people at their tables pounding out emails and text messages looking down at their mobile devices instead of conversing with each other, I would have thought you were crazy. Think about it, we do everything on our mobile devices. They are everywhere and the ways to use these devices are endless. Assuming you already have a website, restaurants who want to be on the cutting edge of technology would be wise to set up their own mobile app that provides basic information about their establishment including menus, specials, locations, photos, events, etc. The highly tech savvy restaurant would take their mobile app one step further and use it to promote their specials, events and offers by sending their customers a notification. Linking the app with your reservation system and on-line ordering are also mobile app things that restaurants should be considering.

Remember, in the end, even in these challenging economic times, it’s all about getting back to basics and satisfying your customers. It’s like a giant Circle of Life – You take care of your customers, they will keep coming back and tell other people about you and they become your customers. Take care of them and they will return and tell others.

It can be argued that exceeding customer expectations during a down economy is even tougher to do. Your customers, even those in Orland Park, can easily take their business elsewhere and will hold you to a high standard when it comes to their expectations. Stay on task with these suggestions and show them that you truly value their business.

The restaurant industry is one of the last great industries where actual interpersonal communication skills are used. Someday, a mobile device may be able to serve up a sirloin and baked potato on-line. But for now, customers can still enjoy the real meal in your restaurant served by a very hospitable human being. Take the time to do things right and your customers will stick with you through this and future economies.

Connecting Restaurants with Customers through Mobile Apps this Football Season

Posted by Mike Mulhausen | 9/17/2012 | Restaurant Mobile Apps

As we start another glorious season of football, restaurants around the country can collectively be heard taking a deep breath as more of their customers return to their establishments and hang out longer while spending more money on entrees, appetizers and drinks. These customers are also likely to be on their mobile devices, checking up on how their fantasy football teams are doing against their friends who have team names like “Packer Backers” or “Bubba’s Bandits”. They are connecting with their teams and their friends through their mobile devices – and are doing it all at your restaurant.

Now, let’s take this scenario one step further. Imagine the bond your restaurant can make with these customers if you were able to alert them of upcoming football related food or drink specials and events going on this weekend? You can make this connection happen by giving your customers a free iPhone or Android app for your restaurant! Once they download your app, you can communicate with them on a regular basis by notifying them of all of the reasons - and this is where you get creative - that they need to be at your restaurant to watch the games this weekend.

Great food, awesome beverages, good friends – all together at your restaurant. An almost certain recipe for scoring repeat Touchdowns for your restaurant each week. Better start working on your touchdown celebration dances!

Hey Restaurants, Have Your Mobile App yet? Get Ready for Your Future Customers - The Class of 2016

Posted by Mike Mulhausen | 8/21/2012 | Restaurant Mobile Apps

This year’s entering college class of 2016 was born into cyberspace and they have therefore measured their output in the fundamental particles of life: bits, bytes, and bauds. They have come to political consciousness during a time of increasing doubts about America’s future, and are entering college bombarded by questions about jobs and the value of a college degree. They have never needed an actual airline “ticket,” a set of bound encyclopedias, or Romper Room. Members of this year’s freshman class, most of them born in 1994, are probably the most tribal generation in history and they despise being separated from contact with friends. They prefer to watch television everywhere except on a television, have seen a woman lead the U.S. State Department for most of their lives, and can carry school books--those that are not on their e-Readers--in backpacks that roll.

The class of 2016 was born the year of the professional baseball strike and the last year for NFL football in Los Angeles. They have spent much of their lives helping their parents understand that you don’t take pictures on “film” and that CDs and DVDs are not “tapes.” Those parents have been able to review the crime statistics for the colleges their children have applied to and then pop an Aleve as needed. In these students’ lifetimes, with MP3 players and iPods, they seldom listen to the car radio. A quarter of the entering students already have suffered some hearing loss. Since they've been born, the United States has measured progress by a 2 percent jump in unemployment and a 16-cent rise in the price of a first class postage stamp.

Each August since 1998, Beloit College has released the Beloit College Mindset List, providing a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall. Originally created as a reminder to faculty to be aware of dated references, it quickly became an internationally monitored catalog of the changing worldview of each new college generation.

See the entire list at:

Restaurant Patrons with Smartphones Have Immediate Purchase Intent

Posted by Mike Mulhausen | 8/15/2012 | Restaurant Mobile Apps

Smartphones have opened up new opportunities for restaurants. Over the past two years, study after study has confirmed the importance of mobile apps for the restaurant vertical market. One such study, released last week, looks at the mobile path to purchase in the restaurant vertical.

The study found that 89 percent of smartphone owners have immediate purchase intent and take action within 24 hours of their research. However 64 percent of smartphone owners in Restaurants make a decision within an hour.

The “takeaway” is that half of smartphone users who conducted research on a mobile device ultimately made a purchase. This is a dramatic finding.

On-the-Go Mobile Users

Confirming lots of other data, smartphone owners mostly use their devices “on the go” (68 percent) — although there is substantial at home smartphone usage as well. “In the car” was the dominant single location for smartphone-based Restaurant searches.

Calls and Map Lookups

As that suggests, a very common use case for smartphone owners is looking for business contact details and directions. The study found:

  • 73 percent of the mobile users had looked for a phone number and contacted a business within the past 30 days.
  • 84 percent of mobile users had looked for a business location or maps and driving directions in the past month.
  • 53 percent of smartphone users find local directory apps are most popular for restaurant searches

This study reinforces the notion that smartphone users are much more “ready to buy” than their PC counterparts. For more information regarding this recent study, visit

14 Mobile & Social Stats Your Restaurant Should Know

Posted by Mike Mulhausen | 6/5/2012 | Restaurant Mobile Apps

We encounter restaurants frequently that wonder, "Why should we use a mobile app? In the food service industry, customers aren’t using their mobile phones."

Think again! Customers utilize information they obtain from their mobile phones to make purchases and mobile experiences have become an important part of everyday life for many of your customers.

These are just a sample of mobile and social statistics that explain what we're talking about.

Mobile stats

  1. U.S. smartphone ownership has passed the halfway point, with 50.4% of mobile users now owning smart devices, up from 47.8% in 2011. Currently, there are over 108 million smartphone users in the U.S. today!
  2. The worldwide smartphone market grew 54.7% year over year in the fourth quarter
  3. Check-in’s have more than doubled in the past 9 months
  4. Mobile advertising is an important driver of smartphone shopping activity and the majority of respondents (70%!) found mobile ads as a welcome personal invitation from brands, rather than an invasion.
  5. Android and iOS owners accounted for 88 percent of all apps that were downloaded in May 2012, it says (up from 74 percent last year).
  6. Smartphone owners are now the majority in the US, Nielsen notes there's a total of 84 million Android and iOS users in the country, more than double over 2011.

Restaurant consumers mobile stats

  1. According to the National Restaurant Association, 46% of restaurant consumers would use a restaurant’s smartphone app if available.
  2. Another 48% of restauranteurs say smartphone apps will become more popular.
  3. 82% of quick services restaurants, online and smartphone ordering will become more popular.

Social media stats

  1. On Facebook alone, there are 250 million photos uploaded every day
  2. 20% of all page views on the web are on Facebook
  3. Monthly active users now over 900 million
  4. There are 175 million tweets a day and 465 million accounts
  5. YouTube gets 2 billion views per day, and handles 10% of the internet’s traffic

10 Reasons Your Restaurant Should Have an App

Posted by Betsy Kraft | 5/25/2012 | Restaurant Mobile Apps

The mobile marketing space is growing constantly. In 2012 alone, smartphone owners in the USA doubled to 84 million Android and iPhones in just one year. In May 2012, Nielsen noted mobile customers are downloading more apps than ever, using them an average of 39 minute per day.

Businesses are rushing to be the first to market, but until only recently, development costs have been prohibitively high. Luckily, with costs lower than ever, there are many reasons to create your restaurant app.

On a related note, we understand it’s not just about creating, but iterating and marketing your app. That’s why we’re launching an app marketing series this July. We also offer a series of app marketing tools to our customers so join us today and let us connect with you when we launch in June! Please visit here, scroll to the bottom and ‘add your e-mail’ address!

Below we’ve outlined the top 10 reasons restaurants create their own mobile apps:

  1. It’s where many customers are (for more on mobile statistics, see our upcoming blog post)
  2. Having an app can boost your social marketing efforts (increase followers who learn about your restaurant through mobile app press and otherwise)
  3. Increase press coverage with a press release surrounding your app
  4. Gaining new potential customers and audiences you may have never reached
  5. Expand your brand online (have your own page on Google Play, the App Store and the MojoBistro website)
  6. Reviews and analytics offer a deeper perspective on customers likes
  7. Your app provides a space to improve on customers dislikes (does one menu item get more clicks? Did you get negative feedback within your app? Solve your problems here before they influence other potential diners.)
  8. The MojoBistro interface is simple enough for restaurant owners with little time to create their own apps
  9. With several clicks, Mojo makes it easy to update your app
  10. Mobile development costs have been reduced vastly (want an app in the App Store or on Google Play? It’s only $299; once and done if you won’t edit your app).

Not sure how to keep your app successful? We have plenty of recommendations, and will keep you full of ideas on how to keep your app compelling. Follow our social media channels to get constant recommendations for marketing your apps. We’re on Facebook. We’re also on Twitter @MojoBistro. Need help? Tweet us at @MojoBistroRX.