Don’t Let this Be Your Franchise: Google closes Restaurant

Posted on July 17, 2014

The unknown digital footprint of Serbian Crowns.

Rene Bertagna was confused.

For 40 years, his restaurant, Serbian Crowns, had been successful.

But in 2012, weekend sales dropped by 75%. Why, he asked, the sudden and devastating drop?

Google, Bertagna claims. That’s why.

Though Bertagna doesn’t own a computer, he made an awful discovery through a customer: Google Places had his restaurant “closed” on weekends, Serbian Crowns’ most profitable time.

Perplexed and unequipped, Bertagna contacted Google. But Google did little to help. So Bertagna hired an internet consultant who fixed the problem. By that time, however, it was too late. Serbian Crowns wasn’t going to recover from its economical slip. In April, Serbian Crowns shut down.

Serbian Crowns would shut down. No matter what.

Whether Google caused Serbian Crowns’ closure, or whether Bertagna is looking for some quick cash, the Serbian shutdown was bound to happen.  

Why?

Simple.

Bertagna fell behind the times. Serbian Crowns had a weak digital footprint.

40 years of operation meant nothing compared to that.

More so, Serbian Crowns didn’t leave its digital footprint. Google Places did. And so did his customers, who have reviewed his restaurant on YelpTripAdvisorYellow Pages, and even the Washington Post.

Serbian Crowns: a common case?

You know what’s sad?

Bertagna is not alone. This situation happens to businesses everyday.

In fact, I know from first-hand experience that most small businesses have little or no control over their digital footprint.

I was the editor-in-chief of a local newspaper.

My writers and I decided to create an online catalogue of local restaurants. To compile the list, we used Google Places, Yellowpages, TripAdvisor, and Yelp.

I kid you not, at least 60% of their online PAHs (phone, address, and hours) were wrong: incorrect phone numbers, inaccurate (or no) address, inconsistencies (two different phone numbers, for instance).

When I contacted these businesses, none knew of these mistakes. In fact, like Bertagna, most were surprised they were online

The Internet’s influence grows.

The weak digital footprints I witnessed are so widespread, LocalVox reported these statistics:

  • 60% of local businesses don’t have their phone numbers on their websites. 
  • 50% of small businesses have seen listings for their businesses that are not accurate. 
  • Only 25 % of small businesses know how to create a mobile optimized web site.  
  • 84% of people say that the biggest difference in small businesses between now and 5 years ago is the use of more online marketing tools. 

That last statistic brings up a good point.

In only 5 years, marketing has changed. Changed so much, in fact, businesses like Serbian Crowns will continue to go under if they do not catch up with the times.

Unfortunately, unless you have an internet marketing software (like LocalMark), catching up with the times can be nearly impossible.

I mean, let’s be realistic. If you own a business, you already manage your sales, hire new employees, develop your brand, market locally, buy products, handle customer complaints, train employees…

So the real question is: can businesses strengthen their digital footprints? Or, like Serbian Crowns, will they go under? 

5 Must-dos to Strengthen Your Digital Footprint.

If you want to step up to the challenge, here are 5 things businesses must do to strengthen their digital footprint.

1. You must be consistent everywhere.

Like a real print, your digital footprint must be the same on all mediums. For instance, your store hours must be the same on Yelp, Google Places, Yahoo Local, Facebook, Twitter, Yellowpages, TripAdvisor…everywhere.

2. You must tell your story. Online.  

If you’re not online, your story (who you are, what you stand for, and why you do what you do) is not within your control. Every online directory, every Yelp.com review, every Tweet, every photo of your business in action tells your story. 

Don’t let others tell the story for you.

In other words, be the first to see a bad review and answer it. Be the first to take photos of your restaurant. Be the first to announce your new sale.

Tell your story online. You will no doubt strengthen your digital footprint.

3. You must have online applications and benefits.

6 out of 10 business owners claim hiring skilled professionals is their biggest challenge.

Not having an online application, then, is like deep sea fishing in a pond. Blind-folded.

In other words, not very fun.

To strengthen your digital footprint, you should have a website that receives online applicants, as well as a system that sends out “job openings” across job boards.

But not just that. In addition to applications, you should show applicants your uniqueness. In other words, show applicants your benefits. Where you’re located next to a gym, or  within walking distance to a theater or park tell these on your website.

4. You must be on at least 2 social media accounts.

The reason why I say “at least 2” is because each social media site serves a different purpose. Choose the right social media site for your business. Just don’t play the “I’m not into that” game. You’ll lose.

5. Your website must be mobile friendly.

72% of mobile users want a website that’s mobile-friendly, and 51% of consumers are more likely to purchase from a mobile optimized web site.

Despite this, less than 5% of online businesses have a website that is compatible with mobile.

That’s crazy. If you want a strong digital footprint post-2014, you’ll need to have a mobile friendly website.

6. Bonus: You must have an integrated marketing communications.

To be cutting edge, to get ahead of other businesses and franchises, find an integrated marketing system

What’s that?

Integrated marketing communications (IMC) grew out of the shift from paper to digital marketing. With its vast expansive powers, with its various mediums for communication, the Internet created hundreds of ways to market. Social media. Email. Blogs. Websites. Pay-per-click ads. Popups. Pandora commercials.

With so many mediums, with so few time to master each one, business leaders needed something to utilize all of them.

That’s where we get an IMC. A good IMC will:

  • make your website accessible on mobile devices.
  • set up an application hiring system.
  • ensure your hours, location, and name are consistent on all mediums.

Interested? You’re in luck. LocalMark does just that. A platform that enhances your web presence, a program that improves your hiring, marketing, and PR, LocalMark will make your digital footprint like Bigfoot’s footprint. In other words, BIG.

But this ain’t no sales call. If you’re interested, cool. Contact us. We’ll answer your questions.

Just remember…

Your digital footprint matters. Whether you know it or not, your business has one.

Don’t ignore the Internet. It’s certainly not ignoring you.

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