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Having an app for your restaurant can significantly enhance customer experience and streamline operations. With today’s technology, you can create your own app catered to your brand and special needs. You’ll be delighted to know that you don’t need technical or coding knowledge to build your app. 

Many app builders use a drag-and-drop interface, meaning you can seamlessly build your own app by tapping your phone’s screen or clicking your mouse. But there are other options if you don’t want to build it yourself. 

In today’s article, we’ll present three easy ways to craft and tailor your app to your restaurant. You’ll have enough app-building know-how to get your app started immediately. 

Before You Build: What Will Your App Help You Accomplish? 

First, you need to develop a vision for your app. 

On a piece of paper, write down a few ideas about your current challenges and how an app might help you solve them. Writing down your challenges and what you think needs to be done to solve them will give you a rough idea of what you want your app to do. 

Pick up your phone and search the app store for your competitors. Looking at the apps your competitors are offering will give you a good idea of the features you need to include. If all your competitors provide loyalty programs, you should include a loyalty program, too. If none of your competitors have online booking, stand out by including it in your app. 

Listening to customers and understanding their needs is another tactic that can contribute to devising your app. Ask yourself questions like the following: 

  • Are several customers calling your restaurant for booking purposes, and are many experiencing busy signals because of high call volume? 
  • Do you get a lot of takeout orders
  • Do customers want to order food before entering your restaurant but still enjoy an in-restaurant dining experience?
  • Do some customers have a seating preference– near a TV, a window, or in a quiet booth– and would like to reserve a table in their preferred area before they enter your restaurant?   

A restaurant app can contain functions that solve each one of those problems. Solving these problems will improve the overall customer experience; customers will likely continue to show up, and you’ll build a loyal customer base. Ask yourself any question from your customer’s point of view and if a custom-made app can improve the customer experience. 

1. Use a No-Code App Builder Like Adalo

Adalo is a no-code platform that enables you to create your own custom app to uniquely reflect your restaurant and brand. It’s built with non-coders in mind, so you need no prior technical experience. 

Choose a template from Adalo’s massive database that matches your restaurant’s theme and style. Adalo makes it easy for you to tinker with the different settings and find the ones that match your intended design and tastes. 

After you decide on your app’s colors and design, implement your app’s features. Here are just some of the customer-experience-enhancing functionalities you can create: 

  • Menu Display: Upload your menu, categorize items, and add descriptions and prices. Seamlessly change items or menu design; add seasonal dishes or even daily specials. 
  • Ordering System: Integrate an ordering system into your menu that allows customers to place direct orders. 
  • Adalo is compatible with payment systems like Stripe, Square, PayPal, and more, meaning you can enable customers to pay for their orders in advance.
  • Reservation System: Include a feature for customers to make table reservations. You can allow customers to choose where they sit in your restaurant– near the TV for the big game or in a quiet booth, tucked away from all the noise. 
  • Loyalty Program: Reward regular customers with discounts or limited-time offers. 
  • Push Notifications: With Adalo, you can set up notifications to alert customers about new dishes, limited-time offers, changes in business hours, or events.

Once you’ve designed your app, test it to guarantee everything works properly. Let your employees use it for a week or two before releasing it. They’ll most likely answer clients’ questions about the app once it’s up and running, so they’ll need to know all its ins and outs. 

Adalo conveniently lets you make your app available for free download on your website, the Apple iOS, and Google Play Stores. This ability makes it easy for customers to get your app. 

You can get a limited version of Adalo for free. Their paid plans, which come with upgraded options and allow for more downloads, start at $36/month.

2. Hire a Developer

If you don’t have time to create your app, do it the old-fashioned way: Hire a developer to design and build it

You can find a freelance developer by searching on a freelancer platform like Fiverr and Upwork, using LinkedIn, or combing through Facebook Groups. The advantage to tapping a freelancer platform is that you can refine your search results to find app developers with a specific skill set catered to developing restaurant apps. 

Hiring a freelancer who’s developed apps for restaurants will likely be a good choice, as they'll most likely deliver slick, professional-looking, restaurant-centered apps. Developers usually charge between $20 to $60 per hour, depending on their experience level. 

It’s a good idea to contact a few developers before making a hire. Follow these points to hire the right developer: 

  • Determine a budget and how much time you’ll anticipate the project to take. 
  • Search for developers and pay attention to their past work, price per hour/project, and years of experience
  • Narrow the list to a handful of developers whose work, price, and experience you like.
  • Request to meet them on Zoom or Google Meet. Interview them, and inform them of the app you want to develop. Ask them if they would add anything to make the app more effective. 
  • After discussing terms, hire the right person to fit your needs. 

Ensure that your developer communicates development progress to you at regular intervals. This way, you’ll know the anticipated launch date and be able to deal with issues that pop up. So, plan accordingly. 

Keep the developer on so they can help you fix any issues, like bugs or glitches, that may arise immediately after launch. When inevitable menu or operational changes occur, you’ll want to get them repaired quickly–and the developer who created the original app will know how to make changes on the fly. 

Choose your developer wisely and develop a strong working relationship with them

3. Hold an App-Design Competition 

A unique way to design and implement an app for your restaurant is to get developers to come to you. You can do this by initiating a competition that challenges developers to create an app for your restaurant. Follow these steps to get started: 

  1. Publicize and promote your app design competition on social media and your website by advertising with a few banners in your restaurant. Include information such as the registration deadline, the features apps must include, and, importantly, the prizes available. 
    Make sure to reward the winner with a few thousand dollars in cash. As you know, app development is expensive, so the reward needs to be serious. 
    It’s also a good idea to let everyone know that the winner will get to help implement the app and have the chance to work with you to make future changes and updates
  2. When you've got your contestants, it’s off to the races. Ensure everyone knows the event deadline. 
  3. Choose the apps you like the most, and award prizes to the top three. Award the winner a lucrative cash prize, like a few thousand dollars. The runners-up can receive meals and a few free drinks. 
  4. The winner will help you implement the app. You’ll need to make the prize big enough so the winner will continue to help you with glitches and bugs. Consider paying the winner for performing updates, changing app features, or resolving glitches. 
    Although you're sacrificing the control that comes with hiring your own developer, you can potentially get the app you want at a much cheaper price. If your winner doesn’t meet your standards, you can always hire help to update the app or add more features.  

Build the App of Your Dreams With Adalo

Want to offer your customers online booking, payment, and seating reservations through a simple app? Use Adalo to build it.

Adalo has tons of customizable templates, so you can craft your app to any design you have in mind. If you lack coding experience and technical skills, then Adalo is your perfect fit -  the platform uses a sleek, drag-and-drop interface for easy and accessible app building. 

When your app is dialed in, make it available for download on the Apple iOS and Google Play App Stores. Hundreds of restaurant owners like you are already using Adalo to simplify their operations. 

Start building your app for a one-page site for free.