Quick-service restaurants and restaurants alike continue to muddle through the unpredictability of the COVID-19 pandemic. As closures and reopenings for businesses continue to waver at both the county and state levels across the board, the restaurant industry has been particularly hit hard as shut down orders for indoor dining have once again affected many parts of the nation. Inevitable closures necessitate creativity–prompting many restaurant brands to adopt new services, such as ghost kitchens, contactless delivery, and expanding outdoor dining areas.
Now, more than ever before restaurants are relying heavily on delivery and takeout orders to make ends meet. Yet if customers can’t find accurate, up-to-date information on the services your restaurant brand is currently offering, you risk losing their business during a pivotal time.
Your services may shift, however, your commitment to communicating these changes to your customers should be a core focus.
We’ve explored how to perfect your local marketing strategy for new restaurant services. We also dived into the new features Google has released to better communicate your special services with your customers. However, Google has once again made several new updates to better help restaurant brands during this tough time. In this post, we will explore these recent changes, what they mean for enterprise restaurant brands, and when/how to use them.
Restaurants Can Now Modify Their Partner Links
Third-party delivery applications, such as Postmates, Grubhub, and DoorDash are major marketplace competitors, as the expectation of ordering food and having it delivered quickly has become common practice. Restaurant brands understand the importance of working with the aforementioned vendors to ease the order and delivery process.
In fact, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 86% of restaurant consumers were using off-site delivery services at least monthly. That figure has undoubtedly risen as takeout and delivery have become the primary way to dine with restaurants.
Previously, businesses were unable to control which third-party menu links were displayed in their profile. This could be problematic for brands who have their own delivery services available, yet was unable to highlight their delivery links first on their Google My Business (GMB) listing. Google is now surfacing partner links within the GMB dashboard.
As Krystal Taing, Director of Local Strategy at Rio SEO mentioned in a recent blog post, Google will now include any links a brand has loaded as well as a count of the number of partner links per section (Menu link, Order ahead links, Reservation links).
For restaurant brands that have their own ordering, reservation, and menu services, our local marketing experts recommend adding these links to your listing and mark them as preferred to ensure customers engage with your brand directly rather than a third-party application. Preferred links will then display first in your listing in the specified section along with the text “preferred by this business”.
If your restaurant does not offer these services directly, you can instead select the third-party vendor of your choice as the preferred link. Some factors you may want to take into consideration when determining the parter to select as your preferred vendor include:
- Who gives you the best profit?
- Who have you encountered the least amount of errors with?
- Who provides the best service overall to your customers?
- Who is easiest to work with?
- What has your overall experience been working with this partner?
Google Adds the Ability to Opt-Out of Food Ordering
In the past, Google added a blue “Order Online” button which was prominently displayed on many of its restaurant listings on Search and Maps. The button simplifies the order process for the end-user, allowing the consumer to quickly order food for delivery with the click of a button. In this instance, a customer wouldn’t need to visit the restaurant’s site or interact with a third-party app to complete their order. For restaurants who don’t have their own online ordering system, this may have not been a major issue. However, for those who do, the end-user would then bypass the restaurant’s online ordering in favor of another delivery platform.
While the restaurant still receives the order and the business, they are forced to pay commission fees to the third-party. In turn, the button also bypasses other delivery partners whom a restaurant may prefer over the one Google had pre-selected. To opt-out of the food ordering, a restaurant owner would need to submit a request via a form.
Google has now simplified the process of opting out of food ordering in the GMB dashboard. To utilize this, simply toggle the “Accept orders on Google” button off. This will, in turn, remove the “Order Delivery” button from your listing. Google has outlined step-by-step directions for how to manually remove the “Order Online” button from your business profile.
If you prefer to not work with a specific partner, you must still contact Google and fill out a brief form. Additionally, if a restaurant reports to Google they have no business relationship with the provider, the button will be removed.
Additional Resources for Restaurant Brands
As Google seeks to simplify the ordering experience for both consumers and restaurants alike amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s critical to take advantage of the features and functionality available to your restaurant brand to increase your profits. We encourage you to also check out these other resources to keep your restaurant brand informed on current local marketing best practices: