It’s quite rare that you step foot into a restaurant in 2021 without seeing a QR code. They’re everywhere, and that’s because they make sense.

If you’re not a fan of QR codes, consider this: QR codes are more environmentally friendly, they’re mobile friendly without needing to download another app, they’re ADA and CDC compliant, they save you money, the list goes on. Most importantly — they are hygienic. If you don’t live in the woods in solitary and have lived through the Covid-19 pandemic, you know that hygienic solutions to post-Covid problems are paramount in restaurants. 

The notion that going out to eat is more of a risk than having an unmasked, “socially distanced” gathering in your home is not the perception that anyone should have when they step foot into your restaurant, and QR codes are a huge reason for that. Also, they’re easy and fun, and people love to use them. (Seriously – have you ever seen a first timer’s face light up after using one?) 

We haven’t even gotten into the digital marketing benefits of QR codes. Let’s list them out: 

  • They boost your SEO 
  • They’re a CTA (call to action)
  • They promote sharing and networking
  • They measure menu effectiveness 
  • They connect your online and offline media 
  • As long as your website is mobile-friendly, the QR code is mobile-friendly 

How do QR codes actually work? Think of QR codes like a barcode. Each little black square and dot that comprises the QR represents its own piece of information. QR stands for “quick response,” aptly named for how quickly your cell phone camera is able to process the code and direct you to the correct URL. Able to store up to 7089 digits or 4296 characters, including punctuation marks and special characters, the Code can equally encode words and phrases such as internet addresses. One thing to always keep in mind, especially when it comes to designing the Static QR Codes aesthetic is that the more data is added, the more the size increases and its structure becomes more complex.

Now that we understand the importance of QR codes and how they can be one of the most effective tools in marketing restaurants today, you’re probably wondering what’s stopping any given restaurant from putting their QR code all over the place. How can you optimize QR code usage in direct combination with creativity and effectiveness without going overboard? While the possibilities really are endless, here’s what we’ve witnessed and determined to be the best solutions:

For dine-in or prospective dine-in customers specifically : 

  • Posters, banners, or menu stands near the entrance 
  • Tabletop inserts, specifically standing and prominent at the table so that they can’t missed when you first sit at your table 
  • Curbside or outdoor window inserts where you’ve typically seen menus placed 
  • On a tent or stand at the hostess area
  • Window clings that are clear of the entrance so that definite customers are not blocked from entering by guests that are still on the fence 
  • Coasters 
  • Any take-away items, such as flyers, brochures, or takeout menus 

Looking to take your look to the next level or class it up? Check out these bamboo custom-engraved signs we found on Etsy

or these wooden coasters from Tinkering Monkey:

For takeout customers: 

On takeout bags and cups (Dreamville bags below)

All-encompassing or for marketing purposes specifically: 

  • On stickers, stamps, or tags that you can place anywhere – on to-go bags, on your laptop or phone, anywhere that’s eye-catching (see examples below)
  • On your delivery vehicle 
  • On your gift cards 
  • On business cards

What should be avoided, in our humble opinions: 

  • Anything that is used for sanitary purposes, such as napkins 
  • Doors or any area that could plug up foot traffic 
  • Bathrooms (just no) 
  • On food (see below image from Flickr – why? Just plain unsanitary, right?)

We’re sure you’ve seen your fair share of creative uses of QR codes in the age of Covid, and we’d love to hear about them and why you think they worked or didn’t work. One thing we all know, though, is that there’s no better way to connect your online and offline marketing – and as a restaurant manager or owner, you should constantly be analyzing how your placement of this gizmo can be assisting you in your overall marketing strategy.