How East Village Pizza Used SinglePlatform to Let the World Know How Great Its Garlic Knots Are

Just over 60 percent of new restaurants close before their hit their first anniversary — so by longevity alone, East Village Pizza, which has been around since 1997, has already more than beaten the odds. But every year brings new challenges as customers’ tastes and behaviors change — and even established local favorites need to adapt.

When Frank Kabatas took over East Village Pizza in 2003, he had plenty of experience making great pizza, but he says he was “like a freshman” when it came to marketing his business.

East Village Pizza - NYC's best garlic knots

He looked around and saw that all of the other pizza places in New York City were distributing paper menus as their main form of marketing. For many years, he too used to go door-to-door, leaving printed menus all around his neighborhood every six months. Customers would keep them on their refrigerator or in a drawer, and when they were hungry they would call East Village Pizza for delivery.

Kabatas says back then, whenever he distributed menus, the restaurant would soon see a lift in business — an increase of maybe 10% over the next few months.

The system worked, so he kept doing it — until eventually, it didn’t. At first, he started noticing in 2008 that the percentage lift he got from his physical menu distributions was dropping. “Either we were doing something wrong, or something else was happening,” he says.

Then, around 2015, after years of decline, his main marketing method just stopped working. He would distribute the paper menus and there was barely any lift at all.

THE CHALLENGE

Customers’ habits had changed. People no longer wanted to pick up a paper menu, let alone a phone. Instead, they had migrated to third-party sites and apps like Yelp and GrubHub (and many more) to both discover restaurants and to place orders. He realized that this meant he needed to find a new way to reach new customers and to keep his menu up to date across all of these new platforms.

Looking for ways to capture more people’s attention online, Kabatas started using social media to promote the business, posting on Facebook and Instagram, making his pizza live on camera every night, and getting into conversations with customers.

He noticed that replying to people who left reviews or commenting on their posts created a much deeper connection than any photo he shared — and he started hunting down influential people online and inviting them in to try East Village Pizza’s food, in the hopes that they would share their experiences online.

The more Frank promoted certain items online, the more people asked for them when they came in.

That’s when Frank realized he could set his business apart by focusing some of his marketing efforts around an item that every other pizza shop offered but didn’t promote: garlic knots. He was confident his knots were better than anyone else’s. If he could get people’s attention on them, not only would they choose his pizza shop over a competitor’s, customers would order not just a slice but also garlic knots, increasing his average ticket.

East Village Pizza's famous garlic knots

Frank started featuring his garlic knots on social media, suggesting them to customers in-store and highlighting them on his in-store and printed menus. The problem: when you searched for “best garlic knots east village,” his wasn’t the top search result — despite having a leg up because of the “East Village” in the restaurant’s name.

THE IMPACT

Part of the reason that Kabatas’s garlic knots weren’t ranking high in searches was structural.  On his website, his menu was posted as a PDF. He had reasoned that this format allowed customers to download and print it, but he hadn’t realized that this meant the menu text wasn’t searchable by Google, Yahoo or Bing. It didn’t matter how many times he posted tantalizing photos and videos of the cheesy garlic knots on social media if customers couldn’t find them when they searched on Google, Facebook, Yelp, Yellow Pages, TripAdvisor or even on the East Village Pizza website, it created a hole in the customer journey.

He had been diligent about going to multiple online platforms to update menu information and make changes, but the process of going to each of them one-by-one was time-consuming and onerous — and doing so still wasn’t propelling him to the top of the relevant search results.

Then earlier this year, Kabatas started using SinglePlatform to manage his menus — not only on his website but also on sites like TripAdvisor and Google My Business — and he began seeing changes very quickly.

THE RESULTS

SinglePlatform published Kabatas’ menu to his website, replacing the PDF,  and then to Google My Business — and in just five days East Village Pizza was the number one search result in the area. Kabatas was also pleased to discover that he no longer had to spend time communicating with various online platforms to make updates.

And because it has become much easier for him to change the items on his menu online, he does so more frequently.

“The world is now online — and when the world is online you need to control your online menus,” says Kabatas. “And it’s tough to do on so many platforms. SinglePlatform is really helping me and saving me time — at least 40 minutes a day on average. The money that you are paying is nothing. You’re going to save time and make much more money than what you are paying for SinglePlatform to handle your menu.”

Accurate Information Ensures the Customer Journey To Your Restaurant

When was the last time you added or removed a dish on your restaurant’s menu?

Have you recently changed the price of a dish you serve?

When (in some cases if) you update your menu, did you update it on your website? What about where people are looking for it, like Google My Business, Yelp, TripAdvisor and Facebook?

If your online menu is old or incomplete, you’re missing out on customers.

Diners use the internet to make decisions about where to eat. 69% of customers looked up local businesses on the web each month in 2018, up 16% from the previous year.  

Accurate, up-to-date menu information is crucial for customers deciding whether to order from your restaurant or somewhere else.

the restaurant customer journey starts with the internet

Attract more customers.

When people use Google to search for a place to eat, they typically don’t type in a specific restaurant name. Sixty-three percent of diners say that type of food is the biggest factor in picking a restaurant. Instead, customers search for the food they crave: “kid-friendly restaurant with chicken nuggets,” “tacos near me” or “vegan restaurant Manhattan.” This is known as an “unbranded search.” And every month there are more than 300 Million unbranded searches for a “restaurant near me”.

These are the potential customers you want to attract—they’re hungry and looking for a place to eat ASAP. An up-to-date and accurate digital presence, where customers are looking, makes it easy for people to take the next step in the customer journey.

Satisfy specific cravings.

If you’re a pizza restaurant that also offers amazing chicken wings or garlic knots, you need to make sure people know about all of your delicious options. An accurate online menu allows hungry customers to search “wings near me” and find you on Google or Zomato.

Once you appear in unbranded search results, customers take an action like making a reservation, get directions or put in an order for delivery. Online menus give people confidence that you can serve them exactly want they want at the moment they want it. This helps customers decide to dine with you.

your menu helps you get found with unbranded searches

If your menu is incorrect, missing menu items or hard to access, though, customers are quick to give up. In today’s digital world, users expect information in as few clicks as possible. If your menu takes too long to find, customers might get frustrated and choose somewhere else to eat.

Showcase your freshest offers.

Restaurants with seasonal specials, like a heart-shaped Valentine’s Day pizza or the launch of a brand-new Instagram-worthy acai bowl, should highlight new menu items on and off of their website. Complete and easy-to-find online menus can attract customers looking specifically for that trendy new dish.

On the flip side, you also don’t want to advertise items your restaurant no longer offers. If customers find a limited-time-only burger on your online menu but can’t order it at your restaurant, they’ll be disappointed. With accurate menus, you give customers access to the information they need when they’re ready to decide where to eat.

Keep menus consistent everywhere.

Does online menu management already sound time-consuming? It gets worse. Menu updates aren’t a one-time fix.

Customers find your menu not only on your website but on dozens of sites like Google My Business, Yelp, and TripAdvisor. On these third-party sites, also known as publishers, your menus can even change without you knowing. User suggestions, data aggregators and the sites themselves can make edits to a menu without notifying the page owner.

SinglePlatform can help you manage all those menus in only a few minutes. You can quickly log in and make a change in one place to update all over the web, or just send us the updates and we’ll take care of it for you. Your menu is an essential tool for attracting new visitors—make it easy for hungry customers to choose you.

To learn more, click here to schedule a demo. On the call we’ll show you how SinglePlatform works, answer all your questions, and even get the process started. It’s easier than you think when we do all the work.

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Your Menu: The Secret to a Successful Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is one of the biggest days in the restaurant year. According to OpenTable, the day dedicated to Mom was one of the 3 “hottest days for dining” in 2018 (along with New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day.) Mother’s Day spending was predicted to be more than $23 billion.

Mom’s want to be taken out to eat on Mother’s Day. In fact, 46% of them want to be taken out to dinner (which has a higher check average) over lunch or brunch. Mother’s Day means serious revenue for restaurants.

If your restaurant is planning to offer something unique for Mother’s Day, like a prix fixe menu or one-day special, planning starts months in advance. If you want to attract customers searching online for where to take Mom for that special meal, they need to see your menu.

93% of people want to see a menu online before dining out. That means if your Mother’s Day specials are not available or outdated, customer’s could be choosing to dine with your competitors instead.

This explores dining trends that can help you plan a successful Mother’s Day promotion for your restaurant.

mothers-day-menu-infographic

 

Want to get your Mother’s Day menu on sites like Google, OpenTable, Yelp, TripAdvisor and More?

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When Is Updating Your Menu Most Important?

It’s not only important, but it’s also critical your restaurant’s menu is up-to-date and accurate online. If it’s not, potential customers won’t find the information they need in the moments that matter.

About 80% of the time, consumers don’t search for a restaurant by name.  Instead, they’re searching for what they crave, like pepperoni pizza near me, or gluten-free menu or best Mother’s Day Brunch.

best-pepperoni-pizza-near-me

Hungry customers search for restaurants online to feed their cravings with a phone in one hand and wallet in the other.  They’re ready to eat and they need your information now. Making sure your online menu is accurate all the time is table stakes for a restaurant. It not only ensures the customer journey but also makes you more searchable.

 

Knowing the importance of menu information to a customer journey, we examined 1.2 million menu views from more than 950,000 unique locations across all of 2017 and 2018. From that study, we discovered some amazing trends that can help you to strategize key moments to update your menu online.

What’s driving these menu views? Customers with intent.

There are 3 incredibly important times of the year that you should put into your calendar and make sure you’re updating your menus online.

  • April into May – the biggest month over month increase in menu views.
    • 2017 – 27% increase of month-to-month menu views
    • 2018 – 9% increase of month-to-month menu views
  • November into December – This starts the biggest run of month over month increase in views, running through March.
    • 2017 – 8% increase of month-to-month menu views
    • 2018 – 17% increase of month-to-month menu views
  • June into July – The last increase in menu views until October
    • 2017 – 8% increase of month-to-month menu views
    • 2018 – 3% increase of month-to-month menu views

What does this mean to you and what action do you need to take?

Simple. November, April and June are the most important times of the year to update your menu.

The following months reap the rewards for your work the preceding month.

APRIL

The jump from April to May is obvious: Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day is one of the top holidays to drive revenue for  restaurants. It’s been reported that nearly 2 out of 5 people will dine out on Mother’s Day. The bump in menu views means people are planning a special meal with Mom up to a month in advance.  So making sure your Mother’s Day menu, as well as the rest of your menu, is up to date in April is imperative to helping you capture business on Mother’s Day.

NOVEMBER

A November into December increase in menu views happens for obvious reasons: holiday dining. Restaurants see an increase in business during the month of December in all segments. The holidays bring about more lunches on the go for busy shoppers, more corporate dining, more drinks with friends and more catering for families who don’t have the time, or patience to cook 5 trays of meatballs.

JUNE

A lift in menu views in June correlates to a seasonal lift restaurants experienced due to tourism season / summer travel. With nicer weather, more people are out and about which means less cooking indoors and more on-the-go meals. That means more consumers are online searching for what and where to eat. The next significant drop in menu views doesn’t happen until September which means that updates in June hold through the end of the summer and travel season.

REACH NEW CUSTOMERS

Your menu is your strongest asset for finding new customers. Making sure it’s accurate and up to date everywhere online is important for searchability –  giving customers what they need when they need it. The more places that your menu is published online, the more searchable you become.

And the most important times of the year to make your menu searchable are November, April and May as the following months have the biggest increase in menu views.

If you are using software to maximize your coverage and searchability, on average it takes 2 weeks for top tier publishers to update your menu so the following would be optimal times to update your menu:

  • Mother’s Day (May) – End of April
  • Holiday dining (December) – Mid November
  • Summer increase – Mid June

mothers-day-out-brunch

If you are thinking about using SinglePlatform, you would want to be signed up at the latest by the following schedule to allow time for onboarding:

  • Mother’s Day (May) – early April
  • Holiday dining (December) – late October
  • Summer increase – Mid May

Do you want to save hundreds of hours trying to update your menu everywhere it lives online? Our team uses proprietary software to do this for you, saving you time and giving you the confidence that customers will find your restaurant when they search for what you’re serving.

Book a demo today and we will show you how easy it can be.

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