Q&A - May 6, 2016

I have been told the traffic count on Highway 75 through Okmulgee is more than 30,000 vehicles per day. But how many of those cars and trucks actually stop in town and support our local economy with purchases?

Of course, many will stop when they need to refuel their vehicle, but how many of them stop for anything else? When they are hungry, we want them to stop in town and have a pleasant dining experience that will make them want to return again and again. When they need to purchase something, we want them to recognize that Okmulgee, Oklahoma is a convenient place to shop that offers great selection, value, and customer service.

This means we have more than 30,000 opportunities per day to make a positive impression about our community and to expand our economy through our local businesses.

Q: I am grateful that we have some chain restaurants in Okmulgee, but I really want to see our local restaurants do well too. What can we do to promote local restaurants?

Okmulgee truly has some wonderful eating establishments that combine terrific meals with friendly, hometown service. I’ve seen this at locally owned restaurants, as well as chain restaurants that are locally managed. Okmulgee is blessed with a variety of dining options, and we should support them all with our patronage. But your question was specifically about promoting local restaurants. There is actually a very easy and effective way that you and I can help local restaurants gain more customers. Don’t just tell a friend about your great experience; tell hundreds of friends about your great experience. In this age of mobile devices, post a favorable customer review of your favorite local restaurant on social media and/or one of the popular online restaurant review sites, such as Yelp.com or TripAdvisor.com.

Both Yelp and TripAdvisor provide a free mobile app that can be downloaded to your cell phone and instantly allows you to join a community of customer reviewers whose ratings are used by countless travelers every day when making their shopping, hotel, and dining selections. You can use the power of these mobile apps to literally drive traffic to your favorite local restaurants.

Download one or both of these apps on your cell phone and the next time you have a good meal or great service here in town, write about it. Post a customer review that would be beneficial to future diners, and help promote the restaurant. If you don’t have a smart phone, use a computer and post your review at one of the above websites.

Like many others, when I am traveling through an unfamiliar town and looking for a good restaurant, I am much more likely to stop at a place with a 5-star rating. But someone had to take the time to write that review, and I am usually grateful for the insider tip. I have found some superb restaurants off the beaten path this way, and I know our little town has many unique establishments that deserve to be discovered in the same way.

If you have more questions for me, please send them to osuit-president@okstate.edu.