We talked to Jürgen Renghart of speisekarte.de on how to incur as little effort as possible to attract guests with the help of its menu and this is what he had to say.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Jürgen Renghart: My family and I are doing well, besides the fact that we couldn’t see most of the more significant part of the family for a very long period now. But we’re healthy, and that’s the essential thing in these days.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded speisekarte.de
Jürgen Renghart: After completing my apprenticeship as an Industrial Management Assistant at AUDI AG and finishing my study of Multimedia and Communication“ I started a trainee career at an SMB in Nuremberg, where I luckily had the opportunity to work on a concept for a domain that we acquired months before: speisekarte.de
I’m proud to say I started this from scratch and built up the biggest restaurant guide in Germany with digital menus of nearly 50% of all restaurants – all in a structured form.
How does speisekarte.de innovate?
Jürgen Renghart: I think there is no significant difference to other companies. We’re focusing on three different points: customer, user and data. We combine each and try to find issues or chances to optimize the features meant to increase the number or quality of one of the three objectives mentioned above. It leads to an increase in website traffic, which is our premier goal. Looking at the results YOY I’d say that we‘ve made some right decisions on what and how we had to create or modify.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Jürgen Renghart: Well, we’re working with restaurants. I think that says just about everything regarding how and if the coronavirus pandemic affected our business. But to answer that question: The pandemic has had a massive impact on our business. Restaurants in Germany were shut down for nearly two months, and again from November until the end of the year. It’s still not clear when the reopening will be allowed.
We responded to the shut-down with a rapid development that added an ordering functionality to our digital menus. All of our customers could activate an order button for their digital menu in less than ten days. It helps them improve or even set up their own online business for takeaway orders – which was, besides delivery, the only possibility for a restaurant to sell their dishes during shut-down. This move helped our customers, and we survive the shut-down by staying relevant to restaurants and their guests – even though no one could visit a restaurant.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Jürgen Renghart: Sure. I’ve been working on this project for more than ten years, so there were many decisions to make. The most important lesson I’ve learned from the choices I had to make is that a made decision is much more helpful than a procrastinating decision. As a startup you have to take risks. So, you have to think about the possible consequences of all the opportunities you have and decide that has the highest value for the business. If it fails, you can customize because you learnt from it. If you don’t do it, you have nothing to compare or optimize.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and speisekarte.de in the future?
Jürgen Renghart: I’d say that it’s the patience and perseverance in me that helps me in these situations. Unfortunately, I don’t have any new tips here – besides the fact that everything is impermanent. No surprise that this is particularly true for startup businesses. Be aware that every decision you recently made could be obsolete shortly after.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Jürgen Renghart: I have to admit that there are some scraper sites and some regional competitors. In addition to that, some new competitors started their business during the coronavirus pandemic, hoping to make some profit in helping restaurants with digital tools. That’s been great news for us. The more competition, the more attention is paid to the topic of digital menu cards.
We have an advantage over competitors, and that is our partner network with some of the biggest websites in Germany. There are sites like Yellow Pages Germany (GelbeSeiten) and many other directories showing menus from speisekarte.de directly on their pages. As soon as a restaurant owner updates their menu, the new dishes are displayed directly on all partner sites. It is, in addition to the straightforward update process for menus, a big lead.
Your final thoughts?
Jürgen Renghart: My final thoughts are with all the restaurateurs who have had so many sleepless nights in 2020. May 2021 return to regular day-to-day business as soon as possible.