I have a love-hate relationship with food, while I may love well cooked homemade food, I do not like the cooking aspect of it. I love to experiment with food but I simply do not like to have to cook every day.
The little cooking skills I ever had had to be upgraded by my hubby after I married him. Till today he is still a better cook than I am. I come from that part of the world were cooking homemade meals is a must, of course, we can eat out once in a while but home cooking is a must for us.
While I love the fact that I get to cook what my little ones eat and hence ensure that they eat nutritionally balanced meals. I find that I struggle a lot with being creative with their meals. This is where I know I would not mind having the services of an online food restaurant which is what preempted this post on how to start an online food restaurant
An online food restaurant is basically a way of serving homemade meals to people without the necessary stress of putting down huge amounts of money to own a physical restaurant. I like to think that most businesses we have in brick and mortar can also be run online, that’s why I am tooting this idea.
Now to run an online restaurant, there is a key skill which you must have, that is selling skill or marketing skills depending on what divide you belong to. Your ability to sell your food ideas and draw in your customers will make the difference in your business, since its basically online without a physical storefront.
Before we delve into the methodologies for starting an online we need to outline some crucial tips that are necessary
Crucial Tips necessary for an online food restaurant
1 Legal requirements: Most cities have very strict regulations when it comes to food business, so you must ensure that you have your Licenses, permits and regulations looked after before you venture into this business. This is because legal trouble is the last thing you need when you already have a business booming. Don’t think that because it’s online, it does not matter. It really matters because you will be cooking food which will be sold to strangers so make sure you have your bases covered.
2: Understand your market: For you to be successful in your online restaurant, you have to have a good understanding of your market. Because you are selling food, your business is still location specific. You can’t send cooked food to another state so you have to understand what the needs of your immediate neighborhood and be ready to meet those needs.
If you are living in a neighborhood where everyone love to cook their own food, you may find that your market may be tough because you have to cook an exceptionally good meal to make them to decide to order yours instead of cooking theirs. Statistics show that a ordering for food online is much more prevalent amongst millennials, so be sure to include this group in your market assessment.
3: Your costs matter: Cooking is a very interesting skill but you have to know that running a restaurant business has nothing to do with cooking, it will look like it’s a joke but seriously, your major business is marketing and drawing in and satisfying your customers. It’s the cook’s job to make sure the cooking is well done. This probably means that you may have to hire a personal cook from the word go, If you are not careful about your costs, you may find yourself spending more than you are making.
Having mentioned this 3 crucial tips, we can now go on to look at different ways you can run an online restaurant food business.
Different ways you can run an online food restaurant business
When we talk about food business from home ideas, there are various ways you can make your business valuable and make money from it. You can call it the different arms or different ways to make money from the online food restaurant business and you will not be far from it.
-Sell fully cooked 3- 5-course meals
-Sell only sauces and soups
-Sell caned personal recipe homemade sauce
-Make food for group gatherings
-Get pre-orders from offices or business places.
-Sell baked goods
Tools you will need to start up your online food restaurant Business
A website: This Is basically like your shop front, the first experience people will ever have of your meals is the picture of your meals so make sure you have a well-built website that showcases what you have to offer.
I would always go with the Wix website builder because it’s basically a drag and drop website builder, very easy to manipulate and use. It does not require much technical expertise, so long as you can drag and drop parts of the website, you are in business. Plus it also offers integrations for marketing an online business. To get a Wix website, click here.
A good Camera is your Friend: In this case, you can’t possibly run an online food restaurant without your own pictures because people will buy only what appeals to their visual senses before they even taste it. So you are the best food photographer your business can have. Be ready to take pictures of your finished meals or even prep processes in other to entice people to buy from you. You can get a good quality camera such as canon, they are the best when it comes to picture quality.
Content marketing: Be willing to market your food business through the written word such as blogging, social media posts, and even online quizzes, this will help you to create an online audience that appreciates what you have to offer.
How to launch your Online Food restaurant Business
After you have put all this aforementioned in place, create a launching program and launch your online food restaurant. Because food is often what people like to taste before they agree to give you a review, you can choose to open up by having an in-house physical open day where people can walk in and try your meals.
Try offering buffet style servings to showcase your products and give the people opportunity to critic and also review your food options. It will also give you the opportunity to collect their information such as emails and preferences so that you can build your email list.
One thing which I will not overlook in building an online food restaurant business is the need to connect with people physically, so I will advise that you have a once a month pop up restaurant kind of treat where customers can book their orders in advance and then walk in to have a dine in.
It will help them to know what it feels like to be served by you, it will also create more avenues to relate with your customers and also meet fresh customers base that you may not be aware of.
In this age, we are in, you start talking about your business before you have started the business, you get the drift, right. The idea is to create awareness and build anticipation about your product even before it has landed. That way you make people expectant of your D- day.
You can create that awareness through Blogging, social media posts, hand fliers and even local announcements in your local newspapers.
This will help people to be aware that a new business is about to start off. Because you are selling food online, you are to ensure that your Online website is very locally optimized to avoid getting orders from out of state.
2-Pick a date for the In-house Pop up restaurant style meetup:
It will be wonderful if you plan all my launch strategy around this idea because it will be a time for people to get to meet with you, connect with you and also have a feel of what It means to buy from you.
It’s important that you make a big deal about it, go out of your way to invite people to your open-air dining so that you can gather as much patronage as possible. Offcourse It will be nice to choose to launch in the summertime when the weather is beautiful and people are willing to go out.
Be sure that your launch day meals feature the varieties you have to offer and also ensure you announce your future menus so that people can be on the lookout for it.
Use your launch day to connect with business owners who have small groups of staff who will normally buy from food from others and entice them with the prospect of a meal that is readily home cooked and made especially for them and delivered right to their office. Highlight your unique service offerings and let them know how buying from you could be the best decision they will make.
i Create a Buzz online
Make sure that you are also consistently creating a buzz online, you don’t want people thinking you are the brick and mortar type of restaurant, you want them to know you are mainly an online restaurant type so ensure you are directing all your offline efforts online also.
ii-Advertise on Social Media
Create your customer avatar and reach out to your persona online via advertisements on Facebook and Instagram, using the features which are available there to target your location and target market. This will help you to attract your ideal customers to your website.
iii-Build your email list
Have a landing page for email collections, you can’t have an online food restaurant business without an email list provider so be sure that you have that handy and then offer people a gift for their emails.
It could be food recipes or even meal packages in exchange for their emails. You can actually tie your open day invitations to this aspect, that is, exchange their email address for an invitation to the open day activities.
IV-Provide an opportunity for online ordering and make sure your website is user-friendly.
I know this idea looks basic I mean what is the use of having an online restaurant without a provision for ordering right? but it will shock you that some people just drop a phone number hoping that people will call in.
One thing you should know about online business is that it takes perhaps less than a minute for people to decide that the effort to reach you is not worth it if you have a difficult layout that makes it cumbersome to make orders.
To take care of this aspect, please ensure that there are different ways of ordering your food.
This may include, an order button, a booking button, a toll-free number they can call to make orders or even a texting service with codes for different food options, this way the customer can easily choose whichever suits them.
Statistics show that the ease in ordering food online contributes to how successful your online restaurant will be.
V-List your Restaurant in Online directories
Ensure that you list your online food restaurant on local business directories that are online, that way if people are new in town and are looking for where to dine or how to get their food, your business will pop up. An example of such directories is Yelp, thefork, tripadvisor and Manta.
After putting all these in place, you can then go ahead to launch your business.
Do you have any other ideas on how to launch a restaurant online? drop your comments below.