In episode #45, Elizabeth Larkin and Gene Marks answer this question:

“I own a small pizza shop right near a college campus. It’s kind of a gold mine. Can you recommend any easy to use software for building a decent looking website. It basically has to show my menu, my contact info, and some of my appetizing photos of the food. I want to do this myself because I change 50% of my menu regularly and don’t want to have to keep asking a developer to make these updates. Thanks.”

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Elizabeth: Welcome back everyone to the Small Biz Ahead Podcast. This is Elizabeth Larkin. I’m here with Gene Marks and this week we’re gonna turn the tables a little bit.

Gene: That’s right. We have a question for you, the listener. Pay attention.

Elizabeth: Our loyal listeners. We were just talking about smartphones and the best one to use to run your business. I have an iPhone.

Gene: And I have a Samsung S7.

Elizabeth: And the Samsung, I agree, is great because it integrates with Google and all of your Google apps.

Gene: True.

Elizabeth: But the iPhone is just so easy to use. So which one is better to help you run your business?

Gene: So you thing the iPhone is better. You prefer it and I prefer the Samsung, correct?

Elizabeth: Exactly.

Gene: Okay, fair enough.

Elizabeth: Plus I have a Mac at home. I still have an iPod. I guess I’m probably the only person left who still has an iPod.

Gene: Probably. An iPod? But I’ve had Samsungs since the S4 and I’m a Google person and it syncs with all my applications well. I can’t imagine using anything else. So we’re gonna ask you, the listener, to leave us a review and in the review, comment on what you prefer. Is it a Samsung, a Droid device, or the iPhone? We’re curious to hear what and we’ll comment and discuss it on our next podcast. Right?

Elizabeth: And why, yes, tell us why. Then we’re gonna compile the results and discuss them a little bit.

Gene: Awesome.

Elizabeth: Okay, we’ll be back very soon with our first question, which is about a pizza shop.

QUESTION: What’s the Best Way to Create a Business Website?

Elizabeth: We’re back with our question. This week it’s from Carl the Pizza Man.

Gene: Of course. What else do you call yourself if you own a pizza shop.

Elizabeth: I already know I’m gonna like this one.

Gene: Here we go, yeah.

Elizabeth: Carl writes, “I own a small pizza shop right near a college campus. It’s kind of a gold mine. I was wondering what’s the-“

Gene: Isn’t that awesome that he says that. Most people when they’re running a business are like “Oh, I’m just getting by. It’s okay. It’s a struggle every day. I’m doing what I can.” This guy’s like “Dude, I’m cashing in. This is a gold mine.” Notice how he doesn’t say what his full name is, what pizza shop, because you know somebody else is gonna open up a pizza shop right next door to him.

Elizabeth: Yep.

“Can you recommend any easy to use software for building a decent looking website. It basically has to show my menu, my contact info, and some of my appetizing photos of the food. I want to do this myself because I change 50% of my menu regularly and don’t want to have to keep asking a developer to make these updates. Thanks.”

Carl, that’s so smart of you. First of all, everyone remembers their college pizza shop. I think mine was the best because I went to school in the Bronx, at Fordham University.

Gene: Oh, that’s right, you went to Fordham.

Elizabeth: We had a place called Pugsley’s Pizza and I think I probably spent 80% of my spending money in college at Pugsley’s. I ate like 80% of my meals there because it was so good.

Gene: Oh my goodness. Okay.

Elizabeth: Where did you go and what was your pizza place?

Gene: It was called Campus Pizza. I went to Lehigh University in Bethlehem and it was called Campus Pizza.

Elizabeth: Campus Pizza? That’s so like … come on.

Gene: Yeah, it’s kind of hurting, I know. It’s pretty bad. But yeah, but every college has got its great pizza place and it is a gold mine. My son goes to GW in Washington. He loves it and all that but he’s like “You can’t get a slice of pizza in Washington D.C.” He’s like “The guy that opens the first pizza shop that sells slices is gonna get rich.” Sure enough, somebody opened up a pizza shop nearby that sells slices. So if you’re listening and you’re in the Washington D.C. area, open up a pizza shop near George Washington University. You’re gonna be set for life. You’ll work hard, but like this guy, you’ll kill it.

Elizabeth: That’s great. That’s great advice. Yeah, if you can find a college that doesn’t have one, that is a great business idea for you.

Gene: Yes.

Elizabeth: So back to Carl’s question. My first question to business owners is always “Do you even need a website?

Gene: Yeah, he does.

Elizabeth: He does?

Gene: He does. There used to be a time where-

Elizabeth: You could just use Facebook.

Gene: You can. You can use Facebook. I have a Facebook page. I’m not on Facebook all the time. The reason why it’s good to have a website, particularly if you’re a restaurant, and you have to admit this as well, people go, I find myself going, to restaurant websites to look at their menus.

Elizabeth: That’s true.

Gene: And their hours and whatever. If you’re gonna use services, like InstaCard or Grub Hub or other delivery services, they like to come back to your website. They always give the ability for the viewer, the visitor, to go back to your website. Even with Yelp, if you have an active site on Yelp, it’s still going back to your website. If you have a listing on Google, it goes back to your website. So even in 2017, your website is still needed. It’s like your essential focus of it. Doesn’t have to be too complicated and it’s certainly not expensive.

Elizabeth: No, it should not be too complicated. My thing, I’ve said this before on the podcast, is businesses, small businesses, put your address on your website. This happened to me recently, I can’t remember what it was, but it was a business that I thought “They’ll have their act together. They’ll have their …” No, they did not have their address. It’s a new yoga studio in the Hartford area, and I had to search all over their website. It was finally on their Contact Me page. But if you are the kind of business where you expect people to come to you-

Gene: Put that address right up front.

Elizabeth: Have your address on every page.

Gene: Yeah, that does make sense.

Elizabeth: Have a Google map. You can embed one. Anyway, I am a huge fan of WordPress for simple websites. For maybe five dollars a month you can host a WordPress site. For less than $100, you can buy a theme that you install on the WordPress site and then you can just have it be as simple as possible. I’m sure they have restaurant themes on there. Just like Carl said, have a page for your menu that you know how to update and have a page with your address and contact information. Maybe have a page where you have some reviews from people.

With that, you could eventually, possibly, do online ordering. But just getting a simple website up there is enough. Gene, I already know what you’re gonna recommend.

Gene: Well, I was gonna recommend Wix. You know that because I’m a big fan of them as well. GoDaddy is another good place to go and set up your own website.

Elizabeth: Squarespace.

Gene: Squarespace as well. But you know what the best advice I have for this guy … it’s Carl, right? Isn’t it right? Carl, plagiarize dude, plagiarize. Go and see what your competitors, other pizza shops in the area that have websites … it always says on the website like built on, or created by, or the platform that it’s on. See what other pizza shops are using or other restaurants are using for their websites. So you can just go and “Okay.” See what they’re doing on their websites, see what you like about it and basically just copy what they’re doing. Use the same service, set up a similar website and you’re good to go. You don’t need to recreate the wheel. You’re a pizza shop.

Elizabeth: No, and you do not need to hire a developer for this.

Gene: No.

Elizabeth: Unless you’re doing something crazy with a website, these plug-and-play systems like WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, Shopify, which we mentioned on a previous podcast-

Gene: Shopify, too. True.

Elizabeth: You do not need to hire a developer. You can really do it yourself. Now you might want to pay one of these students to take really wonderful pictures of your food and you might want to pay someone else maybe 50 bucks to help you get it set up initially. I have a blog and I just had to change hosts and I had to ask one of my friends to help me do that. So you might want to pay someone a little bit to help you do that-

Gene: And I encourage that. Get a student involved or whatever to help. It’s not that expensive to do.

Elizabeth: It’s not expensive and then have them show you how to do it. If you’re only going to be updating the menu, that should only be one page on the site. It shouldn’t really be a big deal. Then you do need to log in once a week, to just make sure “Do I need to update anything? Are there any errors I need to fix?” It’s really not that difficult. It sounds difficult but it’s really not that bad. I feel like you’re on the right track with wanting to do it yourself. But you should find some trusty student and it sounds like you have a lot of them there who can help you out with that.

Gene: Yeah. Don’t overdo it, I think is what the message is.

Elizabeth: Don’t overdo it.

Gene: You don’t really need to. Make good pizza.

Elizabeth: This applies for any restaurant. I see some restaurants with these crazy websites. A high-end website, I get it, you need to make sure your photography is beautiful, but people just want the menu.

Gene: Yeah. It’s funny that you say that, too. If I’m at a hotel and there’s two or three restaurants in the hotel, and I’m like “Oh, I don’t know what I’m gonna do for dinner tonight so I want to look at the …” These are like really fancy nice restaurants, especially with a Marriott or a Hilton or whatever. When you go to their sites, it’s basically a download of their menu. You go there it’s like their hours, their location, and then it’s a PDF of what their menu is. And frankly, that’s all I’m looking for as a visitor as well. You don’t need to be overdoing this.

Elizabeth: Definitely not. That goes for any small retail shop like that. Any restaurant, any … I don’t know. What else would be-

Gene: People like gas stations, nail salons. Even if you have a nail salon, yeah it’s helpful to have a website. If people want to go there and check out your hours, your location, or get to your prices, that’s fine, but again, it’s a couple of pages, a very simple thing. You should have it because people will be finding you there and you can use it as a central place to link back to Yelp or Google reviews or whatever. But it should be simple, simple, simple.

Elizabeth: Alright. That’s our advice and we’ll be right back with our Word of Brilliance.

Gene: Thanks, Carl.


Elizabeth: We are back with our Word of Brilliance and I’m gonna take it over from Gene this week. Gene, do you remember several months ago you wrote an article-

Gene: No. Can I tell you how many times people ask me about an article that I wrote and I’m like ” I have no recollect … What did I say? I can only imagine.” Go ahead.

Elizabeth: It was about those cheeky, sarcastic signs that people put up in their … and we actually did a podcast about this. How a business owner will put up a sign that says, you know-

Gene: The customer’s never right. You know, that kind of thing or-

Elizabeth: Questions filed to the back or something like that.

Gene: Yeah, that’s exactly right.

Elizabeth: Kind of like-

Gene: Put your complaints in here and there’s a picture of a trash can.

Elizabeth: Exactly, exactly.

Gene: You’re like “What is this? I’m the customer and you’re taking a shot at me.”

Elizabeth: Yeah. So my Word of Brilliance this week comes from Cindy Sams, who left a comment on that article. We had all these people trashing you on Facebook saying-

Gene: That’s horrible. Me? That’s never happened before.

Elizabeth: Cindy left a comment and I just love this because I think she has such a great attitude. Cindy writes: “Great article. As a reminder to our team each and every day, we have the tagline ‘There’s no charge for awesomeness.'”

Gene: That’s a great line.

Elizabeth: She has that sign up in her office. She said her clients love it and it keeps her on her toes. So when you’re thinking about putting one of those signs up, flip it and put the onus on you. There’s no charge for awesomeness. Cindy, thank you so much for your comment on that. I’m gonna link to that article in the show notes so you guys can read it. We welcome comments on it and we hope that you are not charging for your awesomeness.

Gene: Yeah. I think that’s great. In this world, we get so abused when we try to even shop for something. We feel like we’re battling all the time. We don’t get the recognition we want. If you’re running a retail shop, if you’re running any kind of a business, just to say thank you to your customers, not to make fun of them. Right? Having even “Hey, thank you for being our customer” or “Here is the email of our CEO. If you have any questions, please contact me directly, the owner of the store. We really appreciate you coming in.” Not, “File your complaints here” and there’s a picture of a trash can.

Elizabeth: With the caveat that there are some really terrible customers, but we’re talking about the impression you’re giving to the world about your business.

Gene: Of course, of course.

Elizabeth: We will be back in our next episode. It’s gonna be about letting your employees use their own cars for company jobs.

Gene: Oh.

Elizabeth: Talk to you then.