Every restaurateur worth her salt is thinking about new ways of marketing with new technologies.
Some restauranteurs in Walnut Creek will be taking advantage of the beta-beta or "pseudo-beta" test of a new app (smart phone application) — "Today's Specials" — that promises to drive diners to the establishment's door. And in.
The new company is called Proximity Solutions.
How is this for a tag line? "Hungry? There's an app for that in Walnut Creek."
The concept is that people driving around town making snap decisions about where to have lunch or dinner. If they pause (and pull the car over, please) and check what restaurant has a special going that day, they might find a couple of blocks away a new place that becomes a favorite.
CEO Scott Kirk differentiates Today's Specials from similar online marketing ventures like Groupon in which the marketing company usually imposes its schedule and its discounts on the restaurant, regardless of how that blows a hole in the restaurant's profit margin. Today's Specials is designed to have the individual restaurant control and monitor (through app software) its own marketing, with links to social media.
The idea is that the app empowers individual restaurateurs. "Who knows the restaurant better than the restaurateur — who knows what they do best?" said Kirk.
For the consumer, the app is intended to build the relationship. The customer has an app connection to a favorite restaurant — he knows what the Monday night special is; he knows what the time the band begins to warm up on Friday night. Customers can locate venues based on distance, cuisine, price, amenities and specials.
Proximity Solutions started the beta testing seven weeks ago in Folsom, which has roughly the same number of restaurants as downtown Walnut Creek, Kirk said.
Walnut Creek memories
Bill Herbert, the vice president of marketing, is a Walnut Creek native. He is amazed at "how downtown Walnut Creek has evolved over the years. I remember cruising Main on Friday nights, shopping at the Army Navy Surplus store, buying vinyl at Rainbow Records, ordering the Mount Diablo Extravaganza at Lippert's Ice Cream Parlor and meeting teammates at Pinky's Pizza after our Friday night football game."
The app is free for consumers. Restaurants can take advantage of a free 90-day, no-obligation trial by contacting Herbert at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (925) 323-3000.
Proximity Solutions has a handful of restaurants and bars in downtown Walnut Creek signed up, and hopes to have that up to 20 within a month, and grow from there to the greater East Bay.
"We're going to spread this out like wildfire nationwide," said Herbert.