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How to Make a Restaurant Review App like OpenTable
How to Make a Restaurant Review App like OpenTable

The food industry is a quickly growing field for app makers. Apps like Zagat and OpenTable are hugely popular among foodies and non-foodies alike. More so with restaurant owners because they immeasurably increase traffic and streamline efficiency.

There is still an enormous opportunity for the entrepreneur looking to create a foodservice industry app. Anyone who has worked in a restaurant can tell you how antiquated the foodservice industry can be. Many restaurants seem like they’re stuck in the 50’s (okay, so some of them are going for that vibe) without any idea of how an app can help their business.

Worse, many restaurant owners have a list of great things an app could do for their business if only they had the opportunity, time and money. That’s where the app making experts in Silicon Valley can help. You come to us with your idea and turn it into a cost-effective mobile app solution. Everything from development to stratification is handled in-house, by us, on your schedule.

Any successful app has three foundational principles: 1) it answers a need; 2) it engages users, and 3) it responds to feedback.

1. Provide a Solution

No product will sell if nobody needs it. That’s just common sense. Sometimes that need is already being met by a competitor. When OpenTable got started, it was pretty much the only type of app out there. It was successful because it made reserving a table simple, efficient and devoid of human error and because it had little to no competition.

Solving a need doesn’t just mean providing a previously ignored service. Zagat, for instance, had a lot of competition from Yelp and other online reviewing business. Zagat compensated for this by tailoring their experience. Where Yelp allows users to review anything, Zagat specialized in bringing users the best information about restaurants, and only restaurants.

Improving an existing service is another solution that can lead to a winning app. OpenTable is great for making reservations and viewing the local foodie scene, but it could be better. App makers Joe Marchese and Greg Hong realized this and quickly capitalized upon it.

Their response, Reserve, offers users the entire dining experience at their fingertips. Customers can reserve tables, view the menu, order food, and even pay within the app itself. Reserve stands to topple OpenTable from its throne because two ordinary guys decided they could do it better. And they were right.

2. Engage!

To Star Trek nerds everywhere, the word “engage” sends tendrils of delight up the spine, bringing back memories of the venerable Captain Jean-Luc Picard. To everyone else, it means how you keep clients interested in your product. Just like everything else, a mobile app needs to interest users, or it will go nowhere.

For a successful Zagat-like app, an entrepreneur needs to keep their content up-to-date. Not only do restaurants constantly change their menus, but their staff changes very quickly. The bad service and food you had the last time could be completely different a few months later. Having fresh, relevant content is a must for any good app.

Another way to engage users is by keeping in touch via email or text. An OpenTable-style app can keep its users engaged by asking users to rate their dining experience. Not only do users feel like they are contributing, but it uses crowdsourcing to build an entirely new service: reviewing. Hire a developer and build a restaurant booking app like OpenTable.

Other opportunities for engagement include offering discounts and deals, much like Groupon does. Restaurant apps require developers to work hand-in-hand with restaurateurs. This provides a fantastic starting point for what can be a successful working relationship. Your app can be used by restaurateurs to inform clients of new menus, happy hours and other important news – all ways to keep users engaged.

3. Feedback Loop

The mobile app user expects certain things from their app experience. First and foremost among those is the expectation that app makers will use feedback to continually update their product. Users expect a certain amount of customization and if you aren’t listening to your client base, well, let’s just say you won’t have a client base for long.

Fortunately, modern technologies make this easy. Android apps and iPhone apps both have fantastic analytic tools that can help developers understand how clients are using their product and how they are not. Obviously, the usefulness of analytic tools is undeniable and completely essential.

If OpenTable made better use of their clients’ feedback, we would not be having a conversation about its competition. They would have recognized the need for a change and would have already moved to fill that void. Neglect analytics at your own peril! You don’t need to be technical to develop an app. Today apps are helping Non Tech SMB to expand their business.

The food industry is an underserved market. The possibilities are wide-open, and the competition is scarce. Entrepreneurs can easily make a quick turn around by providing a much-needed service. Don’t worry, you don’t need any technical experience. That’s why we’re here!

SDI can assist you in developing, designing and marketing your new app. We boost downloads and increase your brand’s online visibility. The best thing is that we not only do it all for you, but we do it at a cost-effective price that works with any budget. Call us at 408.621.8481 or drop a line here and get started on your idea today!

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