Google’s Free Business Listing-The Order Button Can Be Changed

Your  Google business listing is a free listing offered by Google and one you must control and own.  After registering and verifying ownership, your listing can be created and/or edited. Shady providers have found ways to convince Owners/Managers to give control to them. Unknowingly, restaurant owners give up this control and the links are redirected to other websites; this is known as “hijacking your listing”.  If your listing has been hijacked, the process of regaining control is difficult.

The Google business listing is extremely valuable for a variety of reasons.  Many customers search for restaurants by opening up their Google browser and initiating a search.  They may not know the web address of a particular restaurant, but it is a safe bet that they know the name and the location.  Entering this info generally is sufficient to allow for that enhanced business listing to populate.  Additionally, because of Apple’s agreement with Google,  search on the iPhone is often conducted by Google’s engine and the same results apply.

When a customer searches for a restaurant and locates the listing, the buttons on this listing becomes an important part of the search process.  The website button, the menu button and the order buttons should all lead back to  the restaurants website and in many cases to their online ordering system.  Unfortunately, this is rarely the case.   Google has not only made it easy to hijack the listing but a button on this listing call “Place order or order” is allowing 3rd party providers to add their links next to that button.  The consequence is severe.  Customers searching for a restaurant that they are likely to order from or visit, are now directed to a 3rd party site to place an order.

For years, iMenu360 has been fighting with Google to allow restaurant owners to gain control of all the buttons on their listings.  We have created online petitions, explored class action lawsuits and called Google repeatedly to explain that this costs you money and customers and is very damaging to the restaurant’s brand.

In recent months, it seems Google has started to take notice, and in some cases has allowed operators to make changes to the “Order” button.  The results for clients who were able to make changes are exactly as expected.  Sales have increased on their website’s ordering system and sales have decreased to 3rd party providers (Portals)!  Certainly profits go up, but even more importantly the restaurant’s customers information is not released to the 3rd party provider (where they will market their portal to them) and the restaurant’s brand is enhanced.

Getting the Google listing fixed requires an understanding of the process and is a frustrating task; for every success story, there are more failures.  The team at iMenu360 has developed a process that makes changes possible and is committed to our customers to make this happen.  For those interested in fixing their Google business listing, contact iMenu360 at  clientservices@imenu360.com.

Make Your Website A Mobile App

 

The expense of building, hosting and maintaining an App is no longer necessary when all you need is to add a feature to your iMenu360 mobile ordering platform that allows customers to bookmark your site to their desktop.

The benefits are obvious.  The single most powerful advantage is that the App stores are no longer needed.  Customers can order immediately and don’t have to go to the store to download, install and register.  In addition, developers don’t have to submit an application every time they want to make a change, which adds weeks to the process.

All you need to do is contact your website developer and have them add this feature to your website.  In essence creating a mobile app. http://cubiq.org/add-to- home-screen.

More and more companies are doing this. Saving money, time and providing a product that is easier for customers to use.

With mobile orders exceeding desktop orders, it is important that you devote resources to your mobile presence.  You must have a mobile friendly website and with the feature described above, a mobile App is fingertips away.

You Only Need One Website

Simply put…there should only be one website that represents your business and it MUST be owned by you! Unscrupulous providers often put up competing websites (known as hijacking) that you don’t own so they can steer customers to their ordering platforms. These services charge more money and steal your customer data. When customers search online for your listing, they are presented with multiple choices and often don’t go to the site you own; this confuses customers and creates added expense to you

The way to stop them is simple. If a provider puts up a competing website, call them immediately and tell them to remove it. Tell them you will not process any orders that come via that avenue. If you get an order from that site, tell the customer you don’t process orders from there and that they need to go to your website to order. This may be painful to consider (turning away an order), but once this happens to a few customers, that other site will be removed.

To find out if you’ve been hijacked, go to Google.com and enter the name of your restaurant and the city where it resides; your website should come up first. If you see other sites, then this is when you need to take action. Your business has value and having one website that you control and where your customers go to order from is critically important. If other providers are leveraging your brand for their benefit, it must be stopped!

Leveraging Your Email Database

There are a number of differences between a private label system like iMenu360 and a Portal system like Grubhub. One of the biggest, is when a customer orders from a private label system, the email address is acquired and owned by the restaurant. When a customer orders from a third party system (Grubhub, Eat24, Seamless, ect.), the email is owned by that system and not shared with the restaurant.

A number of our clients receive orders from Portals and often ask me how they can get customers to order from their website. Many offer a very aggressive first time discount to entice Portal users to order from their website. This is a good start but in many cases, users go back to their old habits and order from the portal; restaurant owners are understandably frustrated.

Getting users to change their habits requires a two-pronged approach.

Step 1: Providing an aggressive discount to get portal users to order from the restaurant website allows you to acquire their email information.

Step 2: Requires exporting the database to an email provider (such as Constant Contact) and sending out monthly emails to that database. These monthly contacts will consist of promotions that are only good when the user orders from the restaurant’s website and now makes it worthwhile for portal users to consider a permanent switch.

For Example:
Pockets leveraged its database combined with its loyalty program by running campaigns that rewards its customers with double or triple loyalty points at certain times throughout the year. Recently, Pockets ran a campaign that centered on double loyalty points for the whole month of January. Periodic emails were sent during the month reminding customers of this promotion. Pockets does many promotions during the year and now, more often than not, customers order directly from Pockets website.

Fight Back Against Grubhub

10 Things You Need to Do to
Get Grubhub Customers to Order from Your Website
  • Offer customers a first time discount.
  • Have a loyalty program in place.
  • Create special offers that can be redeemed only at your site
  • Create a unique coupon that can be given to Grub Hub customers specifically; this will motivate them to order from your website (when they do, you will now own their email info).
  • On a regular basis send out emails to your database with special offers or coupons
  • Make sure customers who order from Grubhub pay full price and don’t get any special offers or coupons
  • Market only your website for online/mobile ordering at the restaurant. Don’t put up their signs, use their bags, use their coupons, etc.
  • For those who really believe in their brand and business. Turn off Grubhub for a couple weeks and require all orders to come in from your website.
  • Make sure your website is Mobile friendly (not just a shrunken version of your desktop).
  • Remind your customers to order from your website, not Grub Hub’s. Paying 15% and higher is not sustainable (except of course for Grubhub).

How Clients are Leveraging Technology to Solve Problems.

Client: Bacci Pizza on Halsted

Problem: Credit Card Fees and Chargebacks are a high pain point.

Solution: Get customers to pay with cash. Using the iMenu360 system and the payment type discount feature, when a customer pays with cash, customers get a 15% discount.

Results: More Cash coming in. Very little credit card orders being placed. Credit card fees done and more cash to work with.

Is Your Business Listing Being Hijacked……….Probably?

What makes my blood boil is when MY online business listings are being used by other parties to drive MY customers to their ordering platforms.

For example: When I used to Google my “Pockets 309 W. Lake” location and looked at the enhanced business listing (that I set up), the menu link was leading to allmenus.com (a company owned by Grubhub). For all intensive purposes, my listing, which is designed to promote my restaurant, was sending my customers to Grubhub!

How did this happen? When I logged into my GoogleMyBusiness account to edit this page; I found that I could change everything EXCEPT the “Menu” link. It was then that I realized I was really being screwed by someone. To get to the bottom of this, I contacted Google directly and was informed that these links come from a 3rd party and that they do not control what goes here. The good news is if you contact Google directly they will make the change for you. So if you want to save money contact Google immediately: https://www.google.com/business (upper left use the drop down to contact support) and they will call you back; make sure you have your account info.

That’s not all. Other parties that control mobile search and other search engines are doing the same thing. Here are two additional links that will help you adjust what your customers see and where they are directed: https://www.bingplaces.com/, https://mapsconnect.apple.com/.

Getting these listings fixed will take some effort. However, once this fix is in place I assure you that the number of orders coming from your website will increase and your Grubhub invoice will go down. In many cases this may mean thousands of dollars a year. This is another example of third party vendors taking advantage of your ignorance. Don’t let them get away with it. You can thank me later, just make these changes now!

You Get What You Pay For

Recently, one of iMenu360’s competitors closed up shop and thousands of customers were forced to change service providers. Luckily, the owner of this company was a respectable operator and informed his customers in advance. With so many depending on online ordering, thankfully his clients were given enough time to migrate to other systems. However, even with advance notice, the process was nerve wracking for many of their clients and in some cases there was a period of time in which they did not have online ordering.

Why am I telling this story? I have been in the restaurant business for almost 30 years and working in the online ordering space for almost 15 years and the adage “the grass isn’t always greener on the other side” has never been truer. I have seen online ordering companies come and go at light speed. While it is tempting to look for a partner that offers many features at dirt cheap prices, I have learned and seen first hand, that this model is doomed to fail.

When choosing a partner, it is important to look beyond the appearance; you need to investigate “under the hood”. The most important part of any online ordering system is the engine and how it is maintained and protected. Certainly, a restaurant owner wouldn’t always know what to look for but someone who has years of experience does. When choosing an online ordering system, it is important for the system to be very reliable and able to handle an increase in capacity as volume grows. Some other points to be on the lookout for (that iMenu360 does already):

1) A system that has is established and has been thoroughly tested. iMenu360 has been developing its product for almost 10 years and I assure you that the system in year one was far less dynamic and reliable as the system is today.

2) A system that has servers in multiple locations in secure facilities. So many start-up systems are using servers in offices as opposed to using heavy duty servers that are in locked down facilities in secure sites. Not only should your online ordering provider be using one of these facilities for their servers but a second site should be in place as a backup.

3) Data Backup. It is critically important that the data coming into the facility is backed up frequently. Additionally, the backup of the data needs to be handled offsite. There is no point in backing up only onsite because if there is a catastrophe at the office, that data would also be lost

4) 24 hr. monitoring. At 2am Sunday morning, if the system crashes, is there a team in place to get the software back online?

5) Live customer service. When you need help is there some there to assist?

Online Ordering is becoming a significant part of your business. When I started taking online orders 15 years ago I did not fully understand what was needed to have a reliable system and the product I was using crashed frequently. This created nothing but lost sales and tremendous frustration for my customers and anxiety for me. Experience has shown me those new players to this space who offer products at cut-rate prices inevitably fail. While the car may look great sitting on the lot, it truly is the engine that will determine how long the car can run without costing you significantly on the back-end. If online ordering is an important part of your business, make sure you have a partner that is well established and has invested in the infrastructure needed to ensure stability to your system. Otherwise, the small savings you generate in the short term will rapidly disappear when the systems start failing.