free app vs paid app profit

5 Reasons Why Restaurant Apps Should Be Free

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Journalists anticipate growth in the restaurant sector with technology playing a “key role” in maximising footfall; if this is the case do restaurants then deserve free apps? See our top five reasons why restaurant apps should be free to help boost the industry’s recovery.

Reason 1 — Restaurants Already Have Enough on Their Plates

Free restaurant apps help restaurants save money. This is crucial — especially when considering that restaurants already have too many costs to bear.

Take costs of goods for example. Restaurants rely on spending a reasonable amount on supplies and food ingredients — also on sustaining good relationships with suppliers. 

With a recent New York Times report warning consumers that prices will increase for goods, food expenses are also expected to rise.

The same can be said for labour costs. Now the problem transcends dealing with payrolls — today restaurateurs have to worry about actually finding people to work for them. The combined effect of workers leaving for jobs elsewhere and extended furlough schemes have created staff shortages.

Celebrity chef Michael Caines is based in the UK, operating two restaurants Lympstone Manor and The Cove, both in south England. “Without question,” he has said, right now “recruitment is a challenge”. When it comes to sustaining business, “there’s a bit of nervousness from an employee’s point of view” — the problem threatens to limit business. 

However, there is still hope: Michael has also said that the summer season will bring a boost in recruitment as many people (e.g. students) will be on the lookout for restaurant jobs. 

So what better way to ensure restaurants maintain a healthy business and make the most out of an app? Easy: keep overall costs low and make the app free.

free restaurant reservation app

Figure 1. Jean Talon Market by Carl Campbell via Flickr

Reason 2 Restaurants Have Tight Profit Margins 

The cost of restaurant technology is a thorn on the restaurant industry’s side. So let’s talk about profit margins: they’re already thin for many restaurants.

At the end of the year, profit is the total money earned after a restaurant subtracts all expenses from gross revenue. A quick scan of these expenses makes a restaurant’s service look pricey: rent, labour, payroll, card processing fees, refunds… the list goes on.

So why add an app’s service fees to the list? 

After making end-of-year calculations restaurants simply don’t have a lot of money left. In fact, to be profitable, a restaurant must save as much money as it can — to pinch pennies, you could say.

Unlike other business-related apps aimed at other industries (i.e. retail management systems that have a customer base with a much larger gross revenue in overall profits and therefore can make the purchase), the hospitality industry can’t afford to make any more expenses. In a sense, making restaurant apps free is really their only option. 

free app vs paid app


Figure 2. Profit by Mike Lawrence via Flickr

Reason 3 Restaurants Will Always Face Tremendous Challenges

Restaurant apps should be free to support the hospitality sector — not further damage it.

Running a restaurant effectively is like walking a tightrope, a careful balancing act. Branding, staffing, menu design, business plans, loans, capital — these are the things restaurant operators need to focus on.

It’s no secret that many consider the restaurant industry a high-risk sector. When a restaurant opens its doors for the first time, both staff and operators have to grapple with tremendous challenges, doing everything they can to stay in business. Long hours and loads of planning are a traditional recipe for success.

We have all heard unlikely survival stories in the industry — restaurants on their last legs applying for more loans to prevent bankruptcy. When considering a free app vs paid app, restaurants clearly need all the help they can get.

Not to mention challenges related to COVID-19. 

“During the pandemic,” says Jennifer Leigh Parker, technology at the table “became essential”. Throughout 2020 New York saw many of its popular restaurants pay software companies to provide digital services, helping them to manage reservations, handling table capacity online.

Between 2020—21, amid mass closures and unprecedented competition with delivery companies, restaurants have suffered a lot in the name of casualties. Asking them for more — to pay for software plans —  is only a rough hand over an open wound.

In addition, dealing with no-shows and long waiting lines will always bug the industry. We discuss this more in other articles — find out how a free app counters these issues.

So the resolution is clear: Give restaurants ease of access to apps for both the here-and-now and for the post-COVID future. This will ensure that restaurants receive well-needed support for regrowth throughout 2021 and beyond. 

Reason 4 Restaurants and App Developers Both Benefit

An easy and free-to-download app is mutually beneficial for both parties. 

One of the chief reasons developers choose to offer their app for free is this: to increase user traffic and reach the largest audience possible. Asking for an upfront cost is a barrier of entry for many users. Price (no matter how low) proves to be dissuasive. 

But when an app is free, nothing prevents the user from downloading it.

Making an app free is ideal for the restaurant operator and for the developer too. As developers increase their user base, restaurants will increase returning customers because a free app makes dining out convenient for everyone. It’s a win-win situation. 

Services like the Carbonara App make revenue via other activities, so there is no need to ask restaurants for any costs whatsoever. Unlike other free apps — which use adverts and freemium models to generate revenue — Carbonara App demands nothing from the user. This brings us to our final reason on why restaurant apps should be free…

free restaurant reservation app

Figure 3. People Using Smartphones by Rawpixel Ltd via Flickr

Reason 5 Restaurants Require an Easy Option: Free App vs Paid App

Skip the trial period — because there is none. Carbonara App is completely free and will always stay that way. Here’s how it compares to a paid app:

  • No trial. Trial periods allow the user to use a restaurant app for a set time before committing to a subscription model, requiring you to input your details including payment method(s), then finally agree to terms and conditions to pay up when your trial date is finally over. Though you can cancel at any time, isn’t it better to ditch the model altogether?
  • No subscription. Services across the business world from media to delivery companies depend on subscriptions to gain revenue, charging the user a monthly or yearly recurring cost. Restaurant technology companies do the same — and without the user realising it, these costs can climb. With a free app, a subscription simply doesn’t exist. 
  • No add-ons. These are extras that make an app better. Sometimes other software options will bill you for access to useful features your restaurant may need — wait timers for instance. But Carbonara App contains everything you require all in one place, saving you from any unexpected costs.  

Wondering where to download a free app? Let Carbonara App help your restaurant save money and download completely free — no upfront costs, no subscriptions, no add-ons. Also, check out our ultimate guide to find out how a free restaurant reservation app compares to other options on the market.