If you are reading this post, it’s highly likely that you are either considering or have already decided that you need a mobile app for your restaurant or cafe. Having a mobile app could be a big part of your marketing strategy but at the same time building an app can be very expensive and time consuming. You would probably think that you could spend this time and money on other ways to grow your business. When you put all of that together it becomes clear that having a mobile app not only can impact your overall strategy, but it can also impact the health of your business and therefore, it’s crucial to get it right.
In this post, we’d like to share with you 5 important factors that we think you should consider when building a mobile app for your restaurant or cafe. This list is not necessarily exhaustive, but from our experience working with many restaurant owners and general managers, it covers the most common bases.
“I want to give my customers a bad quality app” said no one ever!
Quality should be the most important deciding factor in our opinion. Successful restaurants are always proud of the quality of the food and service they provide to their customers. Would they want to ruin that by providing a low quality app? I doubt that.
The issue with quality is that it often feels subjective. What I call good quality might be mediocre to someone else, and vice-versa. With mobile apps though, we are in a unique position to get feedback from the very people who are using the app, the customers. App ratings in the app stores are a measurable way of assessing the quality of an app.
You might argue that these ratings are not necessarily for the app. Users often rate their overall experience which includes the food quality, service and etc. I agree, but if we assume that the food and service quality are high, which is true for successful restaurants and cafes, then the ratings would be a reflection of the quality of the remainder of the equation: the mobile app.
2: Time to launch
Time to launch is another important factor to consider when evaluating different options for building a mobile app. This would be the time from when you decide to build an app to the time that your first customer can place an order through that app. It’s particularly important because it’s the duration in which you are “spending” money but you cannot use that investment to gain any return. It’s the time your investment is growing at the flat rate of 0%!
The faster you can get your app launched, the faster your can reap fruits of your investment through customer loyalty, increased revenue, streamlined processes and etc.
As a restaurant owner, operator or general manager, your time is very valuable. There are a lot of things that need your attention and many tasks or people are competing for your time. Therefore, you should consider the time and effort you need to invest in building your app as a cost, potentially with a very high hourly rate.
When building a mobile app, you should make sure to consider how much time and involvement you need to put into it. This would be the time you need for making design decisions, approving prototypes, building the app, testing final versions and releasing the app. This is time you cannot spend on other tasks, so make sure you consider the cost of lost opportunities when considering the time and effort required from you to build the app.
Building an app is one thing, maintaining that app is another. Once your app is released you need to constantly review it to make sure there are no bugs. You need to fix potential bugs and in many cases add new features requested by your customers. You also need to update your app a few times each year – when new versions of iOS and Android operating systems are released (which happen quite frequently!)
Our research shows that maintenance costs over a few years can exceed the initial cost of building an app, so don’t overlook this potentially substantial cost.
This wouldn’t be a complete list if we didn’t include price. By price, we mean the initial cost of building an app. The cost of bringing your app to market is an important factor when it comes to deciding between different approaches/providers but the reason we are putting it last in this list is because too many times it’s the sole deciding factor and we think that’s not a good approach. As mentioned above there are other factors that are also very important and could increase the final cost of your project.
At the end of the day, what’s important in any business decision is how much you spend (in time and money) versus how much you gain. The return on your investment will be determined based on that. What you need to consider when it comes to cost is not just the price tag. When making a decision you need to consider other factors that could cost you time and money.