Who wouldn't want a 30-percent boost in their takeout business within a matter of weeks? That kind of success is common among restaurateurs who have made online ordering part of their marketing plan.

Every day, restaurant operators are confronted with the costs of doing business. The fixed expenses and staples are no-brainers—rent, utilities, food and labor costs. The more difficult expenditures are discretionary ones like marketing. Where can a restaurant spend to get the best return on investment? Online ordering is one game-changer.  

While restaurant portals may drive some business, it’s at a substantial cost (10 percent plus). Online ordering via a custom-ordering site creates more business and is significantly more cost effective. In addition, restaurants get a great tool that builds loyalty and extends and strengthens their brand. The average ROI is close to 2,000 percent.

Customers can order in seconds from an online menu. They can make special requests, indicate future delivery or pickup times, and even make payments. For restaurants that offer delivery, custom delivery zones can be created.  

The benefit to customers is convenience. They can order from any device, including a desktop computer, iPad or smartphone. Imagine a mother getting off work. While still in the parking lot, she can order dinner from a restaurant and pick it up on her way home. This kind of order also provides control to customers. Since they placed the order, there is less chance of error. Customers who use online ordering typically become regular online customers.

Customized online ordering is a game changer for restaurants. Using a restaurant portal that promotes online ordering for a variety of restaurants is very expensive (10-20 percent plus). Online ordering via a custom ordering site creates more business and is significantly more cost effective. In addition, restaurants get a great tool that builds loyalty and strengthens their brand.  

According to a study and paper done by The School for Hospitality Leadership at Cornell University, one of the things that draws customers to online ordering is convenience. Plus, because some online ordering companies are integrated with Facebook, it allows customers to share their ordering experience with their friends. The more people order online, the more others learn about the restaurant’s online ordering site.

Jared Shimoff is senior director of Redlands, CA, based-NetWaiter www.NetWaiter.com, which offers online ordering services for restaurants.