With BentoBox, Harborview Goes From Website Skeptic to Website Super User
June 9, 2022
A year after opening, Harborview had no online presence. After partnering with BentoBox, technology became a core part of business.
In 2018, Harborview Restaurant & Bar, a sprawling Cantonese Chinese restaurant, opened on the bay in San Francisco, CA. Its 20,000-square-foot restaurant space included a 200-seat dining room, five private banquet rooms, a 4,000-square-foot terrace and buyout options for each of those areas.
The one thing Harborview didn’t have? An online presence. It understood the value of a restaurant website, but the ownership group had a poor past experience with an outside vendor, which managed the site in a way that created more problems than it solved. If Harborview was going to build a website, it needed to be on its own terms.
"We didn't want to rely on a web developer to create and maintain our website, constantly needing their help," says Harborview Director of Marketing & Special Events Karen Wong. "We needed something our team could use that was easy to update and manage."
When it learned about BentoBox, Harborview was intrigued by a platform that put control in its hands while still allowing the website to look clean and refined. It was also attracted to the platform’s built-in tools to collect and manage diner information for marketing. With COVID-19 looming, it had no idea how vital those tools were about to become. Now, more than two years since launching with BentoBox, Harborview can’t imagine operating without it.
Partnership Overview & Results
1 million+ direct online ordering revenue
$300k+ saved in commission fees through direct online ordering*
$125k+ online gift card & merchandise revenue
$74k+ automated email & loyalty program revenue
*Assuming a 30% commission fee on third-party ordering
Professional Tools For New Technology Users
Operating a 20,000-square-foot restaurant is no small feat, especially in a city like San Francisco. To accomplish it, Harborview relies on the experience of its staff, a team of hospitality experts who manage the restaurant like a fine-tuned machine.
However, hospitality experts are not always technology experts. If managing Harborview’s website required technical expertise, the restaurant would have to relinquish control or put its team in a difficult position. To Harborview, neither was acceptable.
"Finding a tool and resource that is easy enough for us to use without being too technical was important," says Wong. "We needed something that wouldn't take away staff from the services we provide."
BentoBox quickly proved itself the perfect solution. In addition to the platform’s user-friendly back-end, which is designed for all levels of technology users, the partnership began with full-service setup and onboarding. This allowed Harborview’s staff to ask questions and learn the ropes without feeling like it jumped into the deep end. Its staff became gradually more comfortable, and although it still has access to BentoBox support members, it hardly ever needs them.
“The onboarding process was very, very easy,” Wong remembers. “Lots of support and communication. But now we’re up and running, and we haven't needed as much support.”
Online Commerce in the Nick of Time
Harborview partnered with BentoBox at an opportune moment. Having launched its website in February 2020, it was able to pivot quickly and add direct online ordering as soon as COVID-19 hit San Francisco. In the first two months alone, it drove more than $60,000 in online ordering revenue. By the end of 2020, it had driven more than $350,000.
During those first few months with online ordering, Harborview offered pick-up and in-house delivery. Pick-up was taking off, but managing in-house delivery added stressors to the staff and business. Fortunately, BentoBox's online ordering platform has a partnership with DoorDash, which allows restaurants like Harborview to offer commission-free, flat-rate delivery. As a result, Harborview doubled its delivery radius, decreased overhead expenses and increased takeout production and revenue.
"We tried delivery ourselves, and it got out of hand," says Wong. “With the DoorDash partnership, we can reach people further out and save. We really love it."
During the same month it launched online ordering, Harborview added two additional revenue streams to its website: digital gift cards and online merchandise. Digital gift cards drove more than $20,000 in revenue in the first five months, while the online merchandise store inspired the restaurant to launch a new product, X.O. Chili Sauce, and sell it directly to consumers.
"We came up with ideas on how to increase revenue during the pandemic," explains Wong. "The X.O. sauce was one idea, and it's also helped us with branding and marketing.”
Automated Tools to Re-Engage Customers
Direct online ordering helped Harborview drive much-needed revenue in the pandemic — but that’s not where the story ends. On BentoBox, when diners make a purchase, it’s just the beginning of the guest relationship.
Harborview has taken full advantage of its website’s built-in marketing tools, which allow it to capture email addresses from guests who make online purchases, then strategically reach back out them. For example, with automated email campaigns, Harborview sends promo codes both seven days and 30 days after diners place an order. Despite not ordering for nearly a month, 60% of diners open the 30-day email and more than 10% redeem the promo code.
Harborview also uses BentoBox's loyalty program, which incentivizes diners to place repeat orders, accrue points and unlock unique promotions. With very little manual maintenance, the combination of automated email campaigns and Loyalty Program has driven nearly $75,000 in order volume.
“The loyalty program triggers people to remember us,” says Wong. "It helps us keep track of what our diners are ordering and keep in touch with them.”
What Wong describes above is called diner relationship management, and it's one of the fastest-growing areas in restaurant marketing. Online customer data has long been owned (and protected) by third-party marketplaces, but as direct online ordering and commerce become more common, restaurants are finding new ways to use the data at their disposal.
With help from BentoBox, Harborview is at the front of this trend.
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