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Metro 5A577C Super Adjustable Super Erecta Shelving Unit, 4 x 72 x 74-in H

Metro 9992DB Super Erecta Rubber Donut Bumper, 3-1/2 in Diam, 3/4 in H

Metro 9990P Super Erecta Label Holder, 3 in x 1-1/4 in, Gray, Snap-On, No Labels

Metro 1424NC Super Erecta Wire Shelf, 14 x 24

Metro AW33C Super Erecta Wall Mounts, 18 in Shelf Width

Metro 63UP Super Erecta Post, 62 H, Chrome-Plated, for use with Stem Casters

Metro 5MPB Super Erecta Stem Caster with Brake, 5 Dia., 300 ll Capacity

Metro C515-HFC-4 C5 1/2-Height Heated Holding Cabinet, Clear Door, Fixed Wire Slides

Promoting your restaurant on the Internet

by Gilead Beaumont

There may be a few restaurant owners who put up a web site merely for the status of having one, but to most restaurateurs itís there for one primary reason Ė to attract new customers and retain existing ones. So with that deceptively simple goal in mind, Iíd like to offer some advice so your web site can do just that. Make sure your web agency installs a Content management system for you There is nothing more frustrating than going to a web site for important information and finding that the web site is so out of date, you canít even trust that anything on it is accurate anymore. If your ďnewsĒ page has outdated stories from 2003, doesnít it stand to reason that the menu you have listed is also not accurate? How about the directions to your restaurant, maybe youíve moved and never updated your site? Are these unreasonable worries for a prospective customer if your web site seems outdated? No, they are not. So why would any restaurant owner spend five or ten thousand dollars on a nice new web site that they can not keep up to date themselves? Content management systems are the rage now in just about every other industry because of their ability to hand control of the web content where it should be Ė with the business owners themselves. If your site doesnít have this ability, you should ask for it. It will not only prevent your site from looking old, it will also save money in maintenance costs.

Moral: An outdated web site sends the prospective customer a signal that you donít want their business.

Donít go over the top with graphics and flash

This is a common mistake both design agencies and restaurant owners make. While an edgy nightclub can get away with flashing blinking images of people and nightlife, a restaurantís image must be more subtle and professional. Displaying large images of your most popular dishes or your dining room on your entrance page are certainly acceptable ways to introduce your restaurant to a new visitor, but setting a cookie so repeat visitors donít have to watch this introduction every time is not a very difficult programming task for most web agencies, and it will make your site much more user-friendly. If you can manage to show these primary images and allow the visitor to click to a contact page or a reservations page, youíll be doing them, and your business, a large favor.

Moral: Donít make your visitors wait for images to load before they can get to an important page that will make you money.

When having a new web site designed, donít under spend on photography

Itís very difficult to overspend when creating a new web site, thus the most common mistake is to under spend. Photography can be a large part of this expenditure, as a photographerís costs can range anywhere between 500 and 5000 dollars and up, and if you hire someone in the lower end of this range, the photos will almost certainly be of a lower quality than the mid and upper range. Since you will preferably do this only once in a great while, and since the photoís quality will play a large part in the success of the web siteís marketing campaign, under spending on your photography is not a wise choice. For those visitors who are coming to your site just to find directions or get a phone number, the photography will not matter, but if your web site is only used for this purpose then it is not really doing its job, is it?

Moral: If you have to cut back on one aspect of your marketing campaign, do not cut back on your photography budget.

Make sure your web site URL is included on the free listing sites

There is some truth to the expression that the best things in life are free. OK, so you already knew that, but what you might not know is that there is a huge promotional move you can make for your restaurant that costs absolutely nothing. That move is to make sure your web site URL (once you make sure your web site is up to snuff of course!) is listed in as many of the restaurant listing web sites as you can find. Most of these sites allow you to add or change information within your listing, and if your web site URL is not registered with them, you are missing out on a HUGE amount of potential hits, and therefore customers. If you refer to the back page of this magazine, our matrix that ranks the best restaurant listing web sites on the Internet is a good place for you to start. The top sites in that list, and, both allow restaurant owners to update their listings, and you would be surprised at how many of their listings do not have a link to the restaurantís own web site! But this is not only an opportunity to have people link to your web site from these very important portal sites. It also gives your web site all-important outside links to your site, and this is the most important criteria that sites like Google use to decide how high in the search engines to rank your site. So, by listing your web site in as many restaurant listing web sites as you can, you win twice.

Moral: There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of sites that will list your restaurant web site, free of charge Ė so do your homework and list yourself, or ask your web agency to do it.

Donít skimp on the content

Great photos are indispensable. So is a good design, where navigation is easy to follow and the colors choices and overall layout is pleasing to the eye. But what about content? You know, text, the stuff people read. Why are words so seemingly scarce on restaurant web sites, even some good ones? I canít answer that, but I will tell you that giving people the option to read more about your restaurant will often make the difference for many finicky customers who canít make up their minds between two or three restaurants. Tell people about the history behind the restaurant, and if itís a new restaurant, the history behind the owners Ė why they got into the business, what they did beforehand. And since more attention has been falling upon executive chefs nowadays, including a page of background information on your chef is not only good for his or her reputation, it helps your PR as well. Have a writer create literary-quality words for each dish, for each picture of the dining experience goes a long way toward establishing the ambiance and essence of being in the restaurant.

Moral: Donít assume that people donít want to read about your restaurant.

Finally, itís worth mentioning that hiring a web agency should be about experience and continuity, and not cost. If you hire someone who does not work for a professional company, doing this day in and day out 50 hours a week, not only will the quality be secondary, you will have a hard time keeping the site up to date, waiting days or weeks for that person to have the time to make changes. Even if the agency consists of only one person, make sure you hire a company and not a person or a friend.

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