Should I build an app for my business? That's a question we've been frequently asked, and it seems a lot of FEC owners think it would be a good idea. On the surface, sure, it sounds great to say "I have a mobile app!" It's a cool buzzword right now, and maybe you want to feel a bit like a Silicon Valley entrepreneur. But we want to save you a ton of time and money by saying that building a mobile app is a bad idea for your business.
Yes, just about everyone has a smartphone. And yes, people are glued to those phones all day. But that doesn't mean you should build an app. Nobody wants an app for a business they might only visit a few times each year. It's just not practical, and I can prove it. Take out your phone right now and count how many apps you've downloaded from local businesses. What's the count? For the vast majority of you, this number is going to be zero - and many of you probably didn't even need to look at your phone to realize this. If you don't want apps for local businesses, then your customers don't either.
Rather than waste time and money on an app, you should first and foremost make sure your website is mobile friendly. As we've mentioned before, your search engine rankings will suffer if you have an outdated website. Here's a tool from Google that lets you test whether or not your website is mobile friendly. Once your site is updated (hopefully it already is), you want to direct all traffic to the website, not to an app.
Your mobile friendly website is perfect because it already works across all devices (including phones and tablets) and users don't have to download anything to make it work. And the same goes for online party booking, online waivers, and online storefront. We built these features to be mobile friendly, because web access is going to be much more effective than an app for local businesses. If you have an app, the required download adds another step in the process, creating more friction than necessary. Don't ever make it hard for customers to give you money.
The mobile ecosystem is changing and evolving every day. There might come a time when it makes sense to build an app, but that time hasn't come yet. Or there's a chance that apps as we know them could be obsolete in a few years; replaced by operating systems that tap into your brain waves (just kidding...kind of). It's important to make decisions based on what will give you the best ROI for your business. Right now, that means building a mobile friendly website and using mobile friendly online booking tools to generate revenue.