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Google My Business – your new (not-so) secret weapon!

Not to be confused with Google Plus, Google My Business (or GMB for short) is an online listing for businesses. With GMB, potential customers can find your business online within seconds! Check it out. Just enter your business name into the Google search bar (e.g. Bella Café, Melbourne) and see what pops up. There should be a highlighted list of names, venue descriptions, locations, a map and customer ratings. So, is your business there? If not, why not? Being listed on GMB is a prime opportunity to attract new customers. And GMB is not only FREE, but you can control what shows up on it. You can write your own description and even add venue or food photos. Even if your business listing is showing up, how good does it look? Be objective. Can the details or photos be improved, can more detail be added?

Getting started on GMB

 The first thing you need to do is Claim your business. Answer a couple of basic questions, and you’re done. All that’s left to do is verify your right to ‘claim’ the business via mobile, email, or mail.

Your setup checklist

Your listing needs to provide potential customers with information to help them make a decision. And this is what they want to know:

  1. Exactly where are you?
  2. What’s your phone number and email address?
  3. What are your opening days and hours?
  4. What’s on your menu (so what’s your website address?)
  5. What days are you closed or operate shorter hours?

You can update these details on the run, so if you have to close for an emergency, you won’t end up with disappointed diners standing outside your front door reading a “closed” sign!

GMB also has a neat (optional – but still free) average wait time feature so your customers can see how long they’d have to wait for a table, and your busiest times. Google allows potential customers to message you to make enquiries, and you receive an automated alert to let you know that you have a potential booking lined up.

A picture is worth a thousand words, right?

An appealing picture can make all the difference. So when you’re working on your GMB listing add the best possible photos of your exterior and interior. Throw in some mouth-watering food shots, or even a photo of your menu or seasonal specials board.

The more attractive your photos, the higher the customer conversion rate (i.e. if they like what they see, they are more likely to try you out!). So invest some time, effort, and even money in getting the best possible shots. It will pay off.

Get personal

Add those personal touches to make your listing even more attractive to prospective customers. Take the time to point out what makes your venue unique. If you are child-friendly, welcome vegans with a dedicated menu or take American Express, then mention it!

Take control

GMB comes with a dashboard so you can make changes and add to your online content as needed. You can add new or popular menu items, feature special set menus (think express business lunches, early diner deals, or a quick turnaround pre-show menu). Or promote special occasions like Valentine’s Day or themed events, and add links to your blog, your Facebook page or even recipes.

Get insider knowledge

You’ll be able to ramp up your decision making with GMB’s ‘Insights’ section. This holds and summarises all of the data on how and when your customers find you. You’ll be able to see what they’ve clicked through to on your listing, so you will know what appeals to them most – and do more of it! More specials perhaps? A wider range of set menus? Sharing more recipes? With this information at your fingertips, you won’t have to second guess what’s working.

Why you should bother

We know it can be overwhelming simply trying to keep up, grow or just hold your own in the hospitality business. But GMB is one thing you shouldn’t ignore. Your customers and how they engage with you have changed. So you need to keep pace.

In summary, GMB is great value. Especially as it’s FREE! You’ll get a great return on the time and effort you put into it. It will help you capture the attention of new customers when are they actively searching for a restaurant or café.

With more than 75% of all people using Google in preference to other search engines, GMB presents you with an amazing opportunity to grow your business.

And to make the idea even sweeter, if you don’t already have a website, GMB gives you the option to create a free one. You can also interact directly with Google AdWords and start your own customised ad campaign.

For not much effort, you can make a real difference to your business. And did we mention that GMB is free?

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