Working in the restaurant industry requires a lot of patience. Even the smallest of tasks can be tedious, and nobody has time to waste when they’ve got four parties to serve and another that needs their bill.
For years, restaurant owners and staff have been waiting for a solution to help make their shifts (and splitting bills for large groups) a little easier. Thankfully, one Canadian entrepreneur stepped up to create something seriously special.
TouchBistro is a mobile iPad POS and integrated payment system that helps restauranteurs put more money back in their pockets and more time back in their day. The company has humble beginnings as Alex Barrotti conceived the concept while sitting on the patio of his friend’s restaurant in the Caribbean back in 2010.
His friend was frustrated about the inconvenience of taking orders from customers on the patio and having to bring the order slips and payments inside for processing. A born innovator, Barrotti thought that mobile technology could be used to solve the issue, but no such solution existed.
Barrotti says he had one of those “aha” moments because he knew he had identified a unique market opportunity. When he returned to Toronto, he worked with a team of mobile software developers to build an app that could be used on an iPad, in restaurants. One year later, in 2011, he launched TouchBistro.
Barrotti explains that when he initially introduced TouchBistro to investors and restaurant owners, they were skeptical because they thought the iPad was a gimmick that would never catch on as a business tool. Oh, how they misjudged the technology.
Today, TouchBistro is an award-winning point-of-sale and payment solution in more than 16,000 restaurants — in over 100 countries. What does this mean? Well, it streamlines restaurant management and everything from taking orders to making reservations, processing payments to managing menus, accounting, reporting, staff scheduling, customer loyalty, and inventory management.
Barrotti didn’t start TouchBistro with zero business experience — he was previously the owner of a startup that sold for a whopping $45 million in 1999. This learning curve allowed him to realize that it takes a strong marketing team to create awareness and acceptance of a new product with potential customers.
He told Daily Hive that the TouchBistro team started their marketing campaign in Toronto, where he personally knocked on doors to show local restaurant owners and managers how the mobile product works. “I listened to the problems they were having in operations, worked behind their counters, studied their workflows, and made adjustments in the design of the app in response to their input,” he said.
As a result, restaurateurs saw how TouchBistro improved operations, and word of mouth spread to other restaurant owners in the city. Two years later, Barrotti secured seed funding of $5 million. He invested this in the marketing and development of the product, and it paid off.
These days, TouchBistro onboards a high volume of new customers every month. The company recently completed its Series E funding round and has raised $275 million in venture capital to-date.
Barrotti says a big part of the company’s success has come from expanding to global markets, with the greatest traction in the US, the UK, and Mexico. He’s found that new users may have heard about it from others in the industry, but many find the solution from a simple online search.
To help restaurant owners find the app when they’re looking for a payment solution or POS, TouchBistro uses Google Ads. Since using this tool, the number of people searching specifically for TouchBistro has increased by 95% each month in the UK and 47% in Mexico.
TouchBistro’s SEM Manager, Rena Cayari, says that using this tool on a local campaign level is just as effective as when it is utilized for regional and global campaigns, and she is excited to share insights that can help restaurant owners boost customer numbers.
“People searching for ‘restaurants near me’ continues to grow on Google and this is a great keyword to add,” she explained. Set your ads targeting to 1km around your restaurant’s location, and you’ll be showing your ads to people searching for walkable restaurants near them.
Restaurants can also highlight promotions in ads such as ‘build your own lunch for $10.95′ or ‘half-off wine on Sundays.’ “You can even take advantage of Google’s Ad Scheduling to have ads turn on and off at certain times as promotions start and end,” said Cayari.
Barrotti says capturing major market share in a city, a region, or an entire country takes a lot more communication and outreach than a team of people can achieve when walking from door to door. He explains that this is why digital advertising with tools like Google Ads and Keywords is essential to build a global audience.