As a restaurant owner, you’re no stranger to the importance of having a great website that highlights the look and feel of the physical space, food and overall dining experience of your restaurant. But you can also use it to grow your business online.

“For restaurants that feature ecommerce on their website, it’s very obvious how online sales tie into their actual business growth,” says Krystle Mobayeni, CEO at BentoBox, a platform that build websites exclusively for restaurants. “In addition to enticing somebody to walk in the door, restaurants have the opportunity to use their website as a revenue driving tool if they step outside of their typical offerings.”

Here are 6 ways you can maximize the profitability of your restaurant’s website, ultimately getting more customers through your doors.

1. Gift card sales

Giving customers the ability to make gift card purchases through your website can have a significant impact on your bottom line. Simply put, gift cards are easy to distribute via email or snail mail, so make it easy for the customers to make that transaction without having to call into the restaurant. Note: customers most frequently purchase $100 gift cards, according to a BentoBox study.

2. Special event ticketing

A website allows you to take advantage of selling tickets to special events you host at your restaurant. It can be for a New Year’s Eve bash or Super Bowl party – both are ways to get revenue in the door ahead of time to help with your cash flow. Not to mention, offering ticketing directly on your website cuts out the middleman of ticketing services and fees associated with it.  

3. Reservations feature

The BentoBox study also found that customers most frequently visit restaurant websites on Fridays at 5 p.m., suggesting that it’s peak time to drive customers in the door for people who are looking to make decisions about where to eat. Be prepared to take advantage of this by having an easy-to-use reservations feature, a key revenue driver. Hence, the call-to-action button to reserve shouldn’t be buried on the site and should be prominently featured on every page.

4. Superb photography

“If there’s anything a restaurant owner is going to invest in, it should be the photography,” Mobayeni adds. Customers are visiting your virtual space, and through the website experience, they will be able to form an opinion about the quality of your food, location and service based on the presentation of your site. That being said, if you don’t have budget to hire a professional photographer, one way to approach it is to build relationships with up-and-coming, young photographers and offer them a free meal or social media exposure in exchange for their services.

5. Menu usability

A good menu is responsive, usable and inviting. A Single Platform study found 80 percent of consumers think it’s important to see a menu before they dine at a restaurant and 62 percent are less likely to choose a restaurant if they can’t read the menu on a mobile device. For this, Mobayeni suggests uploading text-based menus versus an image file like PDFs because they load faster and greatly improve SEO, making it easier for guests to find your restaurant online.  

6. Email collection

Commonly, restaurant owners say they aren’t ready to send out an email campaign or don’t have the resources to effectively launch it – and that’s OK. You can still slowly build an arsenal of people who opted in and want to know more about your business, so you are able to activate it and send offers and promotions when the time is right. The sooner you can start collecting, the better you’ll be prepared for future growth.

Looking for inspiration? Check out these three restaurant websites that Mobayeni think do a great job hitting on the points above:

  1. Souvla
  2. Bar Crenn
  3. Vibrant