This article is from Clicks Magazine
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Fast food restaurants seem to have cracked the code and figured out how utilize mobile marketing to their advantage.

Pizza franchises like Pizza Hut and Dominos allow customers to order through their cell phones. Taco Bell now has an app with similar features. While these companies likely spent millions of dollars to roll out these changes, they did so with the express purpose of keeping themselves first in their customer’s mind.

How did they do this? And how can you take advantage of it? Read on to find out.

The Importance of Mobile Apps

Over 40% of millennials use their cell phone as their primary source of connection with the world. They text, network, look up information, play games, surf the web, pay bills – and order food. Knowing this, the companies mentioned above created mobile apps for their companies.

Mobile apps allowed them to stay directly in front of their customer at all times. A mobile notification can alert them of specials or deals. The person sees it, clicks on the notification and takes advantage of it.

In another scenario, a person is on their way home. They’re hungry. Instead of searching for or calling their local pizza place, they simply pull up Pizza Hut’s app, place an order and pay for it. They can even choose the time their pizza is delivered. How’s that for convenience?

Apps are the lifeblood of a smartphone. Creating an app that allows your customer to interact with you without having to call in and place an order is the most convenient way to get them to think of you whenever they’re craving food. It increases your business and your customer loyalty, and it puts you miles ahead of your competition.

But isn’t setting up your own mobile app expensive? Not necessarily.

How to Set Up Your Own Mobile App

Custom mobile apps are great – if you can afford them. Since most local businesses don’t have that type of budget, owners may feel having a mobile app is out of reach.

It isn’t. There are businesses that can help you to establish your own mobile app for a surprisingly low fee.

Splick.it, ChowNow and Seamless are three of these companies. They will set up branded mobile apps for you. Splick.it works with major brands like Fuddruckers and Pita Pit. They handle ordering, loyalty programs and payment processing. ChowNow allows Facebook ordering, and Seamless allows people to search for local websites that deliver right from the front page of their website.

Each company allows people to order from your website or from your mobile app. This allows your customers to choose which way they want to interact with you. It also allows you to reach more customers.

Splick.it says that their apps increase a customer’s order size by 30-70% versus a walk-in customer. Imagine someone spending 30% more every time they order from your app. The investment is well worth it.

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How to Keep Customers Coming Back to You

Loyalty programs are an important part of any restaurant’s business plan. They keep people coming back to you. Think of Starbuck’s loyalty program. People order a lot of coffee just to become a Gold member. For them, the perks are easily attainable, and worth it.

It’s convenient to have a platform that has a loyalty program built into it, like Splick.it, but there are other options available. Swipely, Perka and Belly allow you to not only track your customers’ loyalty points, but see which of your items are the most popular.

You can even customize their rewards. Swipely allows you to see which of your customers spent the most money with you during any given period of time. You may want to make their reward different, say giving them a coupon for 25% off. Rewarding your customers makes them want to come back, but personalized rewards show that you value them.

You can also offer deals. You don’t just have to offer them through your app. You can use websites like LocalConnect to publish your deal on websites like Coupons.com and similar mobile apps. This allows you to place your deal in front of thousands of potential local customers. It’s a smart way to get both new and returning customers to come in.

How to Offer Easier Payment Options

Payment options are also built into the custom apps, but there are three other options you should consider using in addition to what is available on the app.

Paypal allows you to simply enter an email address, mobile number or a pin and pay for your purchase. Many national chains like Home Depot and Dollar General accept them.

Google Wallet lets you pay with your phone instead of a credit card. It is similar to Apple Pay, but Google Wallet works with every mobile carrier. Apple Pay only works with Apple Watch and iPhone 6.

Both options work with “tap to pay” technology. The customer only has to tap something (in Apple’s case, the tapping is optional) and they’ve paid for their order. It definitely saves time, and shows customers you are far ahead of your competition. You’ll get plenty of people who’ll keep coming back to you because you accept their preferred method of payment.

The world of business is changing rapidly. Every day we are relying more and more on technology. There is no reason that small businesses have to be left behind.

What was once beyond your reach as a restaurant owner is now available to you. Use the mobile methods mentioned here to increase your customer base and grow your business.

The ability to order and pay for things online is all about convenience. If you invest in it and take advantage of it, you will start reaping the rewards sooner than you think.

Try to implement at least one change in the next few months. Even if all you do is offer online ordering, let your current customers know about it. Encourage them to try it out. I promise you it will put you far, far ahead of your competition.

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