The New Order

Snapfinger's location-based menu app gives independent restaurants a seat at the table with national chains.
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the November 2010 issue of . Subscribe »

Most restaurants are so focused on serving food that their digital marketing efforts end up half-baked. Even an eclectic eatery like Asqew Grill--a five-location chain in the San Francisco Bay Area--can struggle to get the word out via online and mobile marketing.

So Asqew is among a growing number of businesses turning to Snapfinger, a combined desktop and mobile solution that helps consumers identify nearby restaurants and order takeout meals via each location's interactive menu.

"Snapfinger to us is the ultimate marketing platform," says Ari Feingold, marketing consultant for Asqew Grill. "It takes everything we're doing in the restaurant and puts it all online."

Snapfinger is the brainchild of Kudzu Interactive, based in Alpharetta, Ga. The Snapfinger website and the mobile app let customers find restaurants, peruse menus, place takeout orders and integrate directly with a restaurant's point-of-sale system. The location-enabled mobile app, which is optimized for iPhone, Android and Palm webOS smartphones, even lets customers pay the bill via a wireless device. Approximately 73 percent of Snapfinger orders originate from the web, and 27 percent are placed through mobile devices, says Kudzu Interactive founder and CEO Jim Garrett.

As of mid-2010, more than 28,000 restaurants in 1,600 cities--including nationwide chains like Subway, Outback Steakhouse and California Pizza Kitchen--had adopted the Snapfinger solution. Kudzu is now targeting the independent restaurant segment, a demographic that represents roughly 450,000 locations across the country, Garrett says.

"People in the restaurant business are about as backwards in terms of marketing as anyone on their planet," he says. "They're damn good at operations, but they're not as good at figuring out how to get customers to come back more often or how to persuade them to spend more money. Snapfinger extends their presence onto mobile phones and pushes their brand beyond the normal boundaries."

Consumers can download the Snapfinger mobile app for free.

Kudzu makes money when the restaurant makes a sale, claiming roughly 7 percent of each order's pre-tax total. Thanks to Snapfinger's upselling and recommendation features, Garrett says, consumers spend about 25 percent more on meals ordered via Snapfinger than on the average phone order.

"Because our application is location-specific, it plays no favorites between the national chain restaurants and the local mom-and-pop," he says. "Our directory shows the local little guy alongside Outback Steakhouse and puts everyone on a level playing field."

Feingold confirms that Asqew Grill's Snapfinger orders tend to be higher than its average takeout order, but he also says the benefits aren't just monetary. Customer service is improving, too. "As our online ordering increases, the number of phone calls we receive decreases, which means we can focus more of our attention on the guests dining in our restaurant," he says.

Between 200 and 300 independent restaurants are signing up for Snapfinger each month, Garrett says, and in September, Kudzu acquired Snapfinger rival Live on the Go, scooping up 800 more restaurant clients. "Our goal is to get Snapfinger into every independent restaurant in this country with any meaningful takeout business," Garrett states.

Months into its relationship with Kudzu, Asqew Grill gives Snapfinger an unconditional thumbs up. "Revenues are growing every day," Feingold says. "It's such a powerful tool." 

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