Episode 12 – Marketing to grow your Online Orders

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We talk to Tan Terry from Seagulls Greek Taverna, one of our Beta Testers for the Free Restaurant OnLine Ordering system (FROLO). He ran an online marketing campaign and spent $50 in one day. The result – $1,800 in orders. The night was booming and the kitchen nearly ran out of food. Find out how he did it and also what he can do to improve those numbers.

Marketing your take out online orders is going to become more important for every Restaurant as they face increasing competition from Grub Hub, Eat24, Just Eat, Menulog, Zomato, Food Panda and Delivery Hero. All of these online ordering companies compete against Restaurant owners, including those they represent to get the order so that they can charge the Restaurant that big commission and more importantly, get that email address which is critical for database marketing. Tan has done a great job at Seagulls.  Not only has he generated an extra $1,800, he has done it Commission free and he is building his own customer database at the same time. Find out how in this episode.


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Big shout out to Tony from Peppercorn Cafe in Mordialloc.  Peppercorn’s is one of Mordialloc’s best restaurants and Tony was kind enough to let the M4R Team into the kitchen for a photo shoot for an upcoming campaign in the US.  Very exciting.  It is one of the images from that photo shoot that we have used as the image art for this episode.

Podcast transcript of episode 12 – Marketing to grow your Online Orders

James Eling: Hey, it’s James from Marketing4Restaurants and welcome to episode 12 of Secret Sauce, the restaurant marketing podcast. Marketing to grow your online orders.

James: Hey everyone, welcome back. How did you go with our interview with Nick Sarillo? Isn’t he the smartest guy in the room when it comes to building a small business culture? And I think that was the exciting thing about it for me was that as I was interviewing, I was taking notes myself thinking, “Wow, that’s something that we should be doing in our business.” And I think it’s hard to build a culture in a restaurant because you’ve got a lot of people who sort of come and go, a lot of casuals. He has just done such a great job of that. If you haven’t listened to it, have a listen to it now because I think there’s something that everyone can get out of it and that’s the feedback that I’ve been getting from people who’ve been listening to it both in and outside of the restaurant industry. Wow, lots of great ideas in there that people can use. So, really exciting.

So, this week. First off, some news from the Marketing4Restaurants team. The Free Restaurant OnLine Ordering system (FROLO)system, our competitor to people like Menulog, Just Eat, Grub Hub, Eat 24. We’ve been working on this for a long time, trying to get it right, listening really carefully to all of the feedback that we’ve been getting from all of the restaurants that we’ve been talking about with online ordering. And we are just about to release it. So, it’s actually going to go live. So, the free restaurant online ordering system is just about to be released. So, the big things we the free restaurant online ordering system is firstly, it enables you to take orders on your own restaurant completely free, okay? So, you won’t be paying commission 21 percent. You’ll be able to take payments online, okay?

So, there’ll be a small charge that – we’ve done a deal with Stripe. So, we’re using Stripe as our payment gateway. There’s a small charge for that, just like your normal credit card charge. One big thing though is that you’ll get paid a lot quicker than a lot of the people who are doing it now. So, we don’t actually get to see the money, so we’re not going to be holding onto it in our bank account for cash flow reasons. It goes straight from the customer through to you, and I think, you know, it’s always been crazy that some people are waiting three or four weeks to get their payments for their meals that they’ve cooked in an industry where cash flow is so tight. Getting in that money as quick as possible is just critical, I think. So, that was one of the big things that we pushed for. The other thing, of course, is that you get the customer contact details.

So, you’ll get their email address. You’re building your database, not someone else’s. So, we’re really excited with that. There’s one big thing that people are waiting for and that is printers, that is still a little bit further down the track but FROLO, the free restaurant online ordering system, it’s pretty much feature complete and so we’re going to be pushing that out live now. We’ve got over 200 restaurants on the waiting list. So, we’ll probably be doing them in lots of 10, I would have thought. And then as that sort of ramps up we’re hoping to start on-boarding people in lots of 20s and 30s. So, hopefully we’ll get through that waiting list over the next probably six to eight weeks, and then we’ll really start hitting our straps.

And I know that this is the one thing that restaurant owners have really been asking for. And we’ve got some restaurant owners who are ringing up every week, you know, “Is it ready? Is there another feature I can test? What can I do to help get this ready?” It’s taken a long time and I feel really bad about that. I know, I wish we could have shipped it a lot quicker, because I know. And we get restaurant owners who are saying, you know, “I’m paying $500 in commission for online orders, you know, every week. It’s killing me.” So, that’s it, rescue salvation. The long wait is over. We’re ready to go, and so that’s really exciting. And so, in this podcast, this podcast dovetails nicely into that. We’re going to be talking to Tan Terry from Seagulls Greek Taverna in Frankston. So, great little restaurant. Been a customer of ours for probably about 18 months, 2 years.

Business is going really well and I won’t tell you too much because I’d like to, I’m really interested in Tan’s story and I think he’s got a great story to tell. And more importantly, he’s got a great story to tell about some of the online marketing that he’s done and how much of a return he got in one single night. So, he was spending $50 a night. And on one Saturday he bought in $1,800 worth of orders and that is a really good result. That’s a fantastic result. So, let’s have a listen to Tan and his story. Hey, Tan. Welcome to Secret Sauce.

Tan: Thanks, James. Good to be here.

James: So, tell us a little bit about Seagulls.

Tan: It’s a unique little restaurant, going by the name especially, Seagulls. It’s a 30-year-old restaurant, it’s been around in Frankston for a long time. So, I took it over two years ago with a friend originally. Our idea was to turn it into a Mexican cantina, but Ned, the original owner, had been there 28 years talked us into keeping it Greek. So, we didn’t know a lot about restaurants anyhow, so he decided to teach us all these recipes, show us the ropes. He hung around for 10 months and yeah, we took it over from there. The place has been going well ever since. But it’s a bit of an institution we found out in Frankston, you know, people have been coming here since they were kids and now they’re bringing their kids. Everybody’s happy that it’s still around. We may have lost a few customers, but we’ve gained a lot of others. You know, it’s a very unique small restaurant. It seats 80 people. But Frankston’s got a bit of a love affair with it, it’s been around for a long time.

James: That’s awesome. And that’s a really good example of the good will that you get when you buy a restaurant, the fact that you’ve got people who’ve been there as a kid and are now bringing their kids there, as well. So, that’s awesome. What made you get into restaurants?

Tan: Well, just a bit of one of those things that happens. I play indoor soccer every Monday. I lived in California for eight years. I always wanted a Mexican restaurant because, you know, we lived so close to Mexico. And I love ribs and buffalo wings, and we decided to have a barbeque at my place one night for the soccer team. One of the guys is Canadian so we prepared our barbeque. We did the ribs, we did the buffalo wings and the guys in our team had never had them before. And they absolutely loved it. We had a few beers, got talking, and they were that excited they said, “We could open a restaurant. We could actually open a restaurant with this stuff. American style ribs and barbeque wings.” And I spoke to one of the guys, David Taz is his name, we call him. He always wanted to open a Mexican restaurant.

So, originally it was going to be the four of us, but the next day Tazzy and I we spoke more in depth about it and we wanted to open a Mexican cantina. So, he works for a gentleman who owns half of Melbourne, he owns CQ nightclub in the city and he’s got a lot of restaurants and he’s always wanted to open a restaurant himself. So, he found Seagulls online, it was up for lease. Nick, the original owner, he couldn’t sell it. It was pretty rundown. It had great food, it had good customers, but the place was so run down. And we walked through it, Nick showed us through it and he said, “Why would you want to turn it into a Mexican restaurant? Just keep it Greek.” And we laughed at him. And went for dinner a couple of weeks later on a Wednesday and it was busy. And Nick sat down with us and said, “Look,” like the story we told you before, “If you keep it Greek, I’ll teach you all my recipes.” So, we literally shook his hand, had a drink over it, two weeks later he was set to close the doors for good. The place was going to close, it was going to shut down, he couldn’t sell it for $20,000.

Nobody wanted it, so we took it over, renovated it. I’m a tradie, Tazzy’s worked in hospitality. We came through, we had a friend she’s an architect. She gave us design. We worked with that, we didn’t have a huge budget. Renovated for 10 weeks and we literally opened the doors. So, it was within two months from when we had our barbeque to then, sorry three months, that we opened the restaurant.

James: That’s awesome. I think the thing that’s most inspiring about that story is that there are so many people who don’t have restaurant experience and go in thinking, like, literally there’s so many people who have that, you know, “We did a barbeque and we thought it would be great to open a restaurant.” You had a barbeque, you actually opened a restaurant, and two years later you’re going on strong and, you know, everything’s going really well. And I think that’s really exciting, because it can be done, you know. And I think in some respects, not having restaurant experience can be a bit of an advantage because you think a little bit differently to the way that people do who’ve been brought up in the restaurant industry.

Tan: That’s right, that’s right. And we had the benefit of having Nick, the original owner, helping us for 10 months. He showed us the ropes in and out, but like you say, not being in the restaurant industry I could also see other things that maybe he couldn’t see after 28 years. So, once he left, you know, I took the chance to improve on a lot of areas in the restaurant. And my partner only lasted two months. It wasn’t really for him. But, you know, I was too deep into it by then and, you, just worked hard on the business. And we’re going well. We’ve still got a long way to go, but things are looking good.

James: Awesome. So, let’s talk a little bit about the marketing that you’ve been doing. What sort of marketing have you been doing for Seagulls?

Tan: It started off when I think it was ANZAC weekend. I noticed from Saturday it was the quietest Saturday I’ve had since I’d been there. Obviously, you know, ANZAC day took a lot of people away, but for about two weeks after we went into a bit of a lull. And it was kind of a good thing because I decided to start advertising. Because Seagulls had been such an icon in Frankston, I never thought we had to advertise. So, I decided to try AdWords. One of my customers, she sort of pushed me in that direction, and also Facebook. I ran a campaign on Facebook, $5 budget per day, and pretty much the same for AdWords maybe a little more. And within a week I noticed a significant rise in online bookings, people to our websites, yeah, increase in sales. That was just after a week I noticed it.

James: Awesome. So, literally $10 a day. $300 a month. So, $3,500, which I reckon if we were having this conversation 10 years ago you would have spent more than $3,500 on Yellow Pages.

Tan: That’s right. I wouldn’t even go near Yellow Pages.

James: Exactly, exactly. I think this is one of the big mistakes that a lot of restaurants make is that in the old days it was pretty easy, “Let’s just put $10,000 on Yellow Pages.” Now, unfortunately, people don’t do that and they struggle with where to put that money. So, anything specific about those Facebook campaigns?

Tan: I tried two different Facebook campaigns. One was to increase the likes on my Facebook page. And then I thought, you know what, after nearly a month I thought, I had a look at the different campaigns you run and one of the other campaigns was to drive traffic to your website. So, understanding that through your websites you have online bookings I thought, “I’d rather drive people to my website, because that way they can, you know, read about the restaurant more. And if they want to book a table, they can do it through the website.” And I went from, every month you get your email form Marketing for Restaurants, and we were sort of down in the low edge of online bookings. Maybe sort of the middle of the range. And after a month, we were top 20 percent online bookings.

James: That’s a pretty good improvement, isn’t it?

Tan: Yeah, yeah. To top 20 percent. Yeah, our online bookings went through the roof, and obviously you add to the database, as well. So, I was pretty chuffed with that.

James: Awesome. Awesome. Have we done any email marketing to the database yet?

Tan: No, I haven’t even touched that.

James: So, that’s something exciting to do, as well. Because the great thing about that database is they’re all people who’ve eaten at Seagull. So, they’ve gone there, they’ve had a great experience, they’re the easiest ones to get back.

Tan: Yeah, that’s correct. I do have a birthday campaign I run. But that’s it.

James: Yup. AdWords, how did you set up the AdWords campaign?

Tan: The AdWords was sort of limited. I don’t want to have a huge budget on that, but it’s just small depending on your Google feed where it comes up. It’s just a small, “Seagull’s 30-year restaurant.” One of the latest ones I’ve got is, “30 years, never had a microwave.” So, you know, I don’t know how many other restaurants don’t have microwaves. But I don’t think there are too many out there. And, yeah, just sort of pops up on people’s feed.

James: Isn’t that awesome? Because, like, I think that’s one of those things and, you know, a lot of people have my microwaves. A lot of people say that doesn’t make any difference, but I think in the consumer’s eyes it does. And never had a microwave, I mean, you’re selling the message in very few words that you’re cooking the food, that it was like 30 years ago. Old, traditional, Greek style food. And so just that simple phrase says so much more than, you know, “Never had a microwave.” Yeah, that’s awesome.

So, a couple of things that I reckon we can try is targeting, demographic targeting in Facebook. So, people with families, getting them to come in. Driving them specifically for takeaway, as well, and putting them to a landing page that specifically talks about some, you know, offers or packs or, you know, whatever sort of offering you want to supply to those people. Remarketing, are we doing any remarketing on Facebook? Have you got the Facebook pixel there?

Tan: No, no.

James: So, we can do remarketing, which means that anyone who’s been to the website once, they go into a group in Facebook and you can then target them. So, they’re people who have either thought about, you know, they’ve been looking for a place to go, or they’ve been there before and I find in our campaigns that’s the easiest and best, or they’re the cheapest clicks to pick up with the best actions, follow through actions. One of the things that we noticed with AdWords is time. So, most people will do an online order at a certain time, you know. So, literally, in the afternoon. So, one of the things that you can do to decrease your customer, an actual paying customer, is to run it only in the time when you’re accepting offers.

Tan: That would be good, yeah. Because, like you say, it’s more specific then. And we’re only open from six ‘til, the kitchen’s literally open from six ‘til nine, the kitchen. So, if we can get ads running specifically for maybe four or five o’ clock ‘til eight o’ clock, yeah. Definitely.

James: Beautiful.

Tan: Cost effective.

James: And maybe even a little bit earlier to plant that seed so that, you know, one of the things I always say that there’s a battle waged every day about where everyone is going to eat. And too many restaurants don’t do anything to influence that battle. So, they’re not sending out an email at lunch time, they’re not on Facebook, they’re not running an ad campaign to start putting in that mind, you know what, it could be, “Rather than going home tonight and cooking, let’s go to Seagulls.” Yeah, I think…

Tan: Education, too, for the restaurant owners, like we don’t see, we don’t understand a lot of the stuff. And, you know, we’ve got other things going on in our minds. But, like you said, if you mention that to use just it makes so much more sense.

James: Particularly, I think now because most restaurants are now facing competition from Menulog, Delivery Hero, Dimmi, Book a Restaurant, all of those guys are running ads. A lot of them will be running AdWords campaigns in those evening times, trying to get people to book through their, to make an order through their platform. And you’ve got to cut through that. And I think that we went through the statistics and the best result was 14 orders in 1 day, which was $1,800. Which is, that’s an awesome result.

Tan: Blew me away, too. I remember the night, I didn’t realize it was that much. But that blew me away as well. I remember we were just full tilt the whole night, you know, due to the fact that it was a Saturday, as well. But it was, yeah, the online takeaway orders were just crazy. Ran out of food almost, yeah.

James: And that’s, literally, there’s a lot of problems in restaurants and if you’re going to have problems they’re the kind of problems that you want to have. Running out of food, that’s the problem to have. And I think that that sort of sets the model, you know. Not a lot of money, so probably $10, $20 worth of advertising bringing in potentially $1,800 worth of orders.

Tan: That’s right. Maybe more the other days we had the takeaway, as well.

James: Exactly, yeah, yeah, yeah. And on top of that we find that lot of people, one of the things that’s a bit different with our system to the other ones is that we include the phone number. Some people just want to talk to someone when they place that order. And I know it’s a bit annoying in the restaurant when the phone’s continually reading. But, hey, the phone’s continually ringing, so that’s a good thing. And it makes it easier for people to make those orders. For those who, like, I definitely want to place my orders online I don’t like ringing up and then, you know, “Did they get the order, did they hear me right?” Just been 10 minutes reading out the order. It’s a lot easier for me to make the order online. But a lot of people want to make the phone call, so there would have been more orders in there, as well. People who would have clicked on an add, come through, called, and said…

Tan: That night, too, we had people make large orders and then they called to add onto that order, as well.

James: That’s awesome. And the other component of, so the other upside on that is no commission. So, literally at least $180 in your pocket rather than Menu Log’s. And even, like, $180 is $180.

Tan: $1,800.

James: Yeah, but the commission would have been $180.

Tan: Yeah.

James: Yeah, $180 that we’ve saved on commission. I think, though, that there’s more value in the 14 email addresses. So, they’re people who have ordered. There’s a lot of advertising that goes on. These people may forget about the awesome Greek food that they’ve got. You’ve now got an email address that you can send out to, because it’s important to remember that Menu Log used those in their database and they don’t hand them over to the restaurant. Which I think’s probably one of the biggest issues of decreasing customer loyalty.

Tan: Their data system, as I hear it, they use their data system for other customers.

James: Exactly, exactly. So, they will, if you wanted to do a deal with Menu Log to get more orders they’ll send out offers on your behalf. And I think that makes it very hard for you to build loyalty, or for any restaurant to build loyalty when you’re competing against customers or other restaurants that are discounting heavily in order to try and get Menu Log orders. So, I think it places you in a really good spot because it’s what gives you more revenue, a bigger database, and the money that you save you can do two things with. Either put into marketing, take a little bit home more for you. Because restaurant owners try really, really hard and they deserve a pay rise. Probably the most deserving job category in the country would have to be a restaurant owner.

Tan: I was a tradie before this. I was a roof plumber before this, you know. We work some tough hours in 40-degree days. Nothing compares to this. This is hard work.

James: It’s tough, it really is, yeah. And so, anything that we can do to help get restaurant owners to earn a bit more, because I think if you’ve got a bit more money then, you know, potentially you can work a few less hours. Work more on the business, got a bit more time to think about advertising, marketing, the menu, costings, hiring. All of those sort of things, and that just flows into, once you get over that hump I find you’ve got more resources and then it becomes a lot easier to run a restaurant because you’ve got a lot more resources. And it’s just getting out of the trenches.

Tan: It’s important too, as a restaurant owner, to talk with you guys too James, and your team, because when you start implementing new things in the business and that you need to still streamline it. You don’t want it to make our job harder, you know. Our job’s, you know, these different things are going to benefit our business in the long-term. But if it adds to the amount of work that you have to do, you’re going to have to do extra work, as well. But it has to be easy for us to understand.

James: Yup.

Tan: So, we have to be able to use these systems because, you know, they may not our strong points. So, we need to make it as simple as possible and, in turn, we need to speak to you guys about it and say, “Look, you know, that’s good and fine, but we need to make it a little easier for us to run out and run these systems and understand these systems.”

James: Exactly. And I think that’s, the fact that you came in today, which is awesome. A, to share your experiences, but B, you’re able to talk to the developers. And one of the crazy things that we’re doing at the moment is we’re not sending through the phone number on the order, that’s just madness. So, that’s one of those things that, you know, obviously we haven’t thought about, obviously it impacts you guys. And so, that’s a simple fix, so we should be able to fix that. I’ll talk to the devs but, you know, hopefully in the next week or two to get that fixed. Most of the features now, nearly all of them in FROLO, most of them in Free Online Restaurant Booking System (FORBS), and probably about half of them in the actual website marketing platform have come from restaurant owners. Because, yeah, we’re just continually listening to make the product better and better and better.

Tan: That’s good, that’s good.

James: Excellent, well thank you very much. I hope you have a busy night.

Tan: Thanks, James. Appreciate it. Good talking to you.

James: So, you know the really exciting thing that I got out of that is Tan’s story about a couple of mates having a barbecue and thinking, “We should open a restaurant.” How many people do that, and how many people crash and burn in the first 12 months and they realize, “Oh my God, the restaurant industry is not for me.” This is someone who’s got the perseverance to stick with it. And, you know, he’s got the courage to be able to come up with a restaurant that now is doing really well. And I think that that’s really exciting, because it’s something that everyone, you know, for those people who are listening to the podcast now and thinking, you know, “Do I have what it takes to open a restaurant?” Well, you know, there’s the perfect example of if you work really hard and if you listen and you plan well then, hey, you know, you too can do it. So, that’s really exciting. So, that’s it for us today. Hopefully you’ll have a busy night, and we’ll talk to you soon. Bye.

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