How Blinker’s Tavern Makes Social Media and Online Listings Work

If you own a small business, there’s a good chance that marketing probably doesn’t fall within the category of things you love to do.
After all, you didn’t open your doors for the thrill of creating marketing emails, managing a Facebook Page, or monitoring your online listings. You did it because you wanted to build a business—to do something you’re passionate about, and to share that passion with each and every customers that walks through your door.

But these days, running a business does come with a full plate of marketing responsibilities. And the reality is that businesses—especially new businesses—cannot afford to ignore online marketing and the responsibilities that come along with it.

That was certainly the case for Sandy Meyer, owner of Blinker’s Tavern in Covington, KY.

“We opened in 2011 and knew right away that there were things we needed to be doing to attract new customers,” explains Sandy. “But as a new business, it wasn’t clear where we needed to start.”

Starting with social media

Like a lot of new businesses, one of the first things Sandy did when she opened her doors was to set up on social media.

“We knew social media would be a good tool for getting in front of our audience,” explains Sandy. “We always have a lot going on and it’s important that we’re able to keep people up-to-date.”

In addition to building an audience of local fans and followers on Facebook and Twitter, Sandy says that one of the most important parts of being on social media is to connect with the hospitality industry in her community.

“It’s really important for us to be able to get in front of the hotels in our area,” explains Sandy. “We depend on tourism during our busy season.”

Managing a social schedule

As valuable as building awareness on sites like Facebook and Twitter has been to Blinker’s Tavern, it has also come with plenty of challenges.

With a rotating schedule of daily specials for both lunch and dinner, a menu that changes with the seasons, and a wide range of events for things like holidays, anniversaries, and other local happenings—Sandy has plenty to talk about with fans and followers.

What she doesn’t have is the time to actually do it.

To make matters worse, with so many changes and special occurrences taking place week-to-week, it has become increasingly more difficult to get the menu that’s been offered in the restaurant each day in front of the people who actually need it.

Finding a better social media marketing solution

Rather than spending hours each week trying to get sites like Facebook and Twitter to work for her business, Sandy decided early on that she was going to need some help.

In September of 2012, Sandy spoke with a representative at SinglePlatform.

She discovered that on top of helping businesses manage their online menu and listings, SinglePlatform also offered a range of features designed to help businesses like hers on social media.

She worked with the representative to put together a plan for how SinglePlatform could help alleviate the stress of keeping tabs on social media and make the most of all the tools SinglePlatform has to offer.

One of the first things she decided to do was put together a calendar of special announcements for things like daily specials and upcoming events. She could manage these updates ahead of time without having to log in to Facebook or Twitter throughout the day.

“For us, SinglePlatform has been a great tool for sharing reminders about our specials and other things we have going on,” explains Sandy. “It has taken a lot of stress out of being on social media.”

That’s not to say she forgets about her fans and followers. On the contrary, she still takes the time to respond to customer questions and say thanks to fans when receiving positive reviews or recommendations.

Not only that, but with SinglePlatform Sandy has also found a better way to keep her daily lunch and dinner menus in front of her target audience—using SinglePlatform to share her menu directly to the Blinker’s Tavern Facebook Page.

“SinglePlatform makes it easy to update our regular menus and make changes when we need to,” explains Sandy. “Which is important because we know the menu our fans are seeing is the same one we’re offering at our restaurant that day.”

Extending her reach beyond social media

In addition to social media, Sandy has also taken advantage of SinglePlatform’s network of more than 100 online listing sites and mobile apps.

As a new business, Sandy recognized that awareness needs to extend beyond her social communities. By publishing her menu with SinglePlatform her business has a better chance of getting discovered online.

And because the changes she makes to her menu on SinglePlatform are automatically made on Facebook and across the entire network of SinglePlatform’s partnering online listing sites and apps, she knows the information they find will be up-to-date.

“Keeping our menu up-to-date on review sites and online listings has never been a problem for our restaurant because we’ve been with SinglePlatform since the start,” explains Sandy.

“That’s been important for our business.”

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How Summer Kitchen Cafe Evolved to Meet the Needs of Their Customers

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last few years, you know that the way consumers find local businesses has fundamentally changed.
This is something that all local business owners need to be aware of, but it is especially important for local merchants who own or manage a restaurant.

Take James Dillon, owner of the Summer Kitchen café in Rosemary Beach, FL. When James opened for business in 1999, most restaurants were not thinking about the value of having their menus available online.

“When we first got started, we actually walked around handing out paper copies of our menu,” James recalls. “A lot has changed since then.”

Part of what’s changed for restaurant owners like James is that the needs of his customers have also changed drastically. Paper menus, print advertisements, and passing foot traffic are no longer enough to bring new customers through your door.

Customers are searching for businesses on their mobile devices, checking review sites and online listings, and using social media to connect with their favorite restaurants and local businesses.

“Today, there’s so much more we need to be doing,” explains James. “It’s something we’ve started paying attention to in the last few years.”

The danger of not being in control of your own information

Like a lot of restaurant owners, James jumped into the online world by first creating a website and eventually getting started on Facebook.

He then began to use search engines to search for his business online. The good news was that there was already a lot of information out there about Summer Kitchen Café. The bad news was that most of that information hadn’t been updated in almost a decade.

“I’m not sure if everyone is cognizant of the information that’s out there, but the stuff that’s online really never dies,” explains James. “We found menus on some sites that were 10 years old and had never been updated. It really got my attention.”

With the help of his daughter, James began looking into how he could take control of the information that was out there. Their first attempt was to track these menus down one-by-one.

“The process was way too cumbersome,” James recalls. “On some sites the menus were embedded, on others we found outdated pdfs. It was impossible to keep everything up-to-date.”

Fed up, James decided to look for a better option.

“We began looking for an easy platform that would let us update our menus and distribute them more easily,” explains James. “That’s when we discovered Single Platform.”

Managing expectations

At first, James wasn’t sure what to expect. Up to that point, keeping up with his online listings had been a nightmare with more negatives than positives for his business.

After working with a representative at SinglePlatform to set up his new digital listing however, James’s expectations slowly began to change.

“We were surprised at how easy it was to use,” James recalls. “To be able to update our menu in a single location and have it published in so many places without any extra work has been a huge timesaver.”

With SinglePlatform, the hours James had spent updating menus online were replaced with a few easy steps. Now when a change or update was made to the menu, it would repopulate on sites like TripAdvisor, UrbanSpoon, YellowPages, and other places he knew his customers were searching.

Finding time to do more

With less time spent keeping track of online listings, James says he has more time to help grow his business.

“We’re focused now on improving our own site and doing more on social media as well,” explains James. “Being able to have our menu populate on our website and Facebook has been a huge help.”

Now, no matter where people are discovering Summer Kitchen Café—whether it’s on their website, through Facebook, or via an online search—James knows the menu they find will be the same one being offered at Summer Kitchen Café that very day.

That’s also freed him up to be more proactive about getting that information in front of his target audience.

With SinglePlatform’s social media tools James has the ability to schedule and share special announcements with his more than 1,100 Fans on Facebook. He has also started encouraging Fans and patrons at the café to help “share the love” and review Summer Kitchen Café on sites like Yelp and Urban Spoon.

Why it’s important for small businesses to evolve to meet the needs of their customers

A lot has changed for James since the days of passing out paper menus to local residents. What hasn’t changed however is the type of service or the quality of the dishes being offered at Summer Kitchen Café.

That’s great news for James and his customers. Today it’s never been easier for people to find out what’s on the menu.

“We depend on customers being able to find us—whether they live in our community or are located hundreds of miles away,” James explains. “Knowing we’ll be found in the places our customers are already searching has given us peace of mind.”

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