You have a fabulous restaurant, delivering an exceptional dining experience to your customers. Do you know what they say about you to their friends? To the world? When people find your restaurant on the internet, what do they see? Do you have a reputation management system in place?
Reputation Management for Restaurants
(When What You DON’T Know DOES Hurt!)
Recently, I was travelling with my business coach and at the end of the day, we decided to go out for dinner. Not knowing the city we were staying at well, we searched on the internet for nearby restaurants. The listing we found, prominently displayed reviews that customers had posted about these restaurants. It struck me that many restaurants only had a few online reviews – less than 10. My first thought was, surely more than 10 people have dined at the restaurant, or have they?
As I read through the reviews of restaurants that attracted our interest, I was put off visiting many of them, due to the negative online reviews that were posted by customers. This one in particular, made us both cringe!
(Translated by Google) The taste of food can then be different. Do not be surprised if you can see the wheel worms passing by the table.
Perhaps it was just an unfortunately bad machine translation, but the image of “wheel worms” crawling over our food was, to say the least, not very appetising!
Ultimately, our choice on where to dine, was decided by the listing with the most positive reviews.
I’m sure that most people in our situation do exactly the same – search online for restaurants nearby and see what other people have said about those restaurants. Most of us would trust a recommendation from a friend or from people we know. What might surprise you, though, is that a very large number of people trust customer reviews from complete strangers when they are made online.
As a restaurant owner, or business owner, you’ll be well aware of the amount of effort, time and money you’ve invested in building a positive reputation. That reputation is part of your brand, it’s precious and you should spare no effort to protect it.
Warren Buffet once said “It takes 20 years to build a good reputation and only 5 minutes to ruin it!” Today, with the rapid development of the internet, easy access via mobile devices, that 5 minutes is probably micro-seconds!
So active reputation management for your restaurant is vitally important.
If you don’t control your online reputation and reviews, which are a key part of your brand, then someone else will! And they might not have YOUR best interests at heart.
Imagine then, you have hundreds of reviews publically visible to your potential customers, all of them positive (four or five star). Certainly that would drive a large number of new customers to your door.
So what’s stopping you from collecting reviews to boost your restaurant’s reputation?
Some business owners might be concerned that negative reviews, or comments will land online. You wouldn’t want to become known for “wheel worms”!
There is a way to take control of both what is published online about your restaurant and collect reviews from EVERY customer, that will enable you to consider their feedback in your improvement activities.
Reputation Management for your Restaurant is critical to your success because:
- Potential customers search online
- Potential customers consider reviews as a key criteria to choose their restaurant
- Positive reviews help you rank in the Search Engines and therefore get found
- A strong reputation is a key part of your brand
Google says that your online reputation is formed by what you say and do online, AND what others say about you online. As well as a search engine, you could consider Google to be a reputation engine!
Marketing your business with a strong reputation requires more than just having a profile on some review sites. It needs you to build and implement a comprehensive review process, collecting reviews from EVERY customer and responding to those reviews.
Reputation management is NOT about hiding bad reviews, or engaging in any negative discussion in response to bad reviews. It’s about having a great brand, delivering a remarkable experience, and making sure that EVERY customer has the opportunity to share that experience through a review of your restaurant.
The more reviews you have in any given review system, the better you will rank on that system and in the Google search. People searching online will find you more easily, and if the vast majority of the reviews is positive, it will entice them to visit your restaurant.
The Five Key Steps for Good Reputation Management for your Restaurant:
Step One – Provide Remarkable Service
This is what you do – how you delight your customers. It must always be the first step in building your reputation. I’m not going to advise you how to do that – you know better than me, what will delight your customers and how your restaurant will achieve that.
Step Two – Setup Your Accounts
People need places to review your restaurant, so you’ll want accounts at the sites that your potential customers are likely to search. I’d strongly recommend you setup, or claim your Google My Business listing, if you haven’t done so already. For restaurants, a Facebook page where customers can review your business is also beneficial. You should also consider some industry specific ones, such as Zomato, Urban Spoon and Trip Advisor.
Having review sites in place for your business, with well constructed business profiles, will make it easier for your customers to leave reviews and for potential customers to find reviews.
Step Three – Triage
Next, locate any existing online reviews posted by customers. Begin by responding to the positive reviews. Something like “We’re glad you enjoyed your experience with us. We hope to see you again soon.” is good. You might also respond to any specific comments. It’s important to respond to ALL reviews, because it shows that you care about the customer’s experience.
Then respond to the negative reviews. Leave emotion out of it. Thank the customer for the feedback, if appropriate, apologize for any bad experience and consider if you’d like to take action to follow up. Don’t be defensive – this is an opportunity to improve and another opportunity to show you care! This article gives you some scripts that you can use to model your responses from.
Step Four – Setup a Review Filter (Reputation Management Tool)
This is a tool that will give you the peace of mind to know that you have full control over what reviews get posted to the public review sites. You can get a rating from all customers. A low rating will result in the customer sending you a message, so that you can deal with any improvement opportunities and have another chance to delight that customer. A high rating will send the customer to your preferred review site, for them to post a public review. As you collect more and more postive reviews, your overall ratings will improve, your visibility in the search engines improves and you will get more customers for your restaurant!
Step Five – Ask EVERY Customer to Give you a Rating
The more customer ratings you have, the better. With the review management system in place, you can fearlessly ask every customer to provide you feedback, without worrying that someone may provide bad feedback because they are in a bad mood or got out of bed on the wrong side that morning.
Make it easy for your customers to provide feedback. That includes having an easy to access address (URL) for the review filter, perhaps providing QR (quick response) codes that customers can scan with their phones to get straight to your review system. Ask for reviews at a time when the customers’ experience is freshest in their mind, for example, when they pay the bill. The easier it is for the customer to rate your restaurant and the quicker you get them to do it, the more reviews you’ll get.
After getting reviews from the customers, respond personally and individually to each one. Show that you care about the customer.