As a restaurant owner of a brand new restaurant, you have a lot on your plate at any given time, and one of the biggest things to worry about is your online reputation. If you have a negative review or negative customer experience shared on social media or on your Google My Business page, then you're making a bad first impression on potential customers or travelers passing through just by them looking at the search engine results. People will judge your restaurant, the chef, the service, and more just off of one Google review and treat it as an online resource. If you are a local business or a small business, a negative restaurant review can cause damage without good reviews there to offset it.
Do not let your profile get filled up with bad reviews. The importance of reviews online is incredibly high and this powerful tool can build your credibility. Instead, learn five ways to get a positive review and what you can do to beef up your online reputation so that customers will come back to visit you and eat at your restaurant.
1. First, provide excellent customer service.
A happy customer means they are more likely to leave you a good review. This means providing excellent customer service and encouraging your wait staff to care for new customers and existing customers with attention to detail and care. If the customer has a good experience, they may consider leaving a good review if asked.
Accidents happen, and sometimes a table may slip through the cracks if the wait staff is extremely busy. They could be served the wrong dish or not be served in an appropriate amount of time. If for some reason, the customer received bad service and they report it to you as the owner or manager, offer them some form of compensation such as a gift card or free meal to make up for it so that they are less likely to leave and put up a bad review on Yelp, a social network, or any other online platform.
2. Ask your customers to leave you a review if they were pleased with the service.
As the owner or restaurant manager, you should be circulating through tables during the day or evening to get direct customer feedback. If you find that they were pleased with their service, then ask them to visit your restaurant's Facebook page or Google My Business to leave you a review. Even if it is just a 5-star recommendation with no details, that still helps to increase your overall rating. Ask them to review your dining room atmosphere, your new menu, or the service they received while they were there at your own restaurant.
If you have hundreds of good reviews, they can easily balance out the effect of any rare negative customer review that your restaurant may receive. If you get negative feedback, then take the time to investigate what happened and how your wait staff can avoid these errors in the future. While word of mouth is a great marketing strategy, you still need to have positive reviews online for everyone to see. The importance of online reviews is undeniable, especially in a world where everyone Googles everything and looks at search engine results to find your newest menu item.
3. Make it easy for your customers to leave you a good review.
An important thing to remember is if you want your customers to leave you a good review, you have to make it easy for them to do that. They need to be able to find you quickly and put in their review. Remember, they are not getting anything out of it, so they are not likely to invest a lot of time in tracking down your online profiles. Consider giving them links to your Facebook, Yelp, Google, and other review-based platforms on your restaurant receipt or provide them with a card.
In that same vein, make sure you have claimed your profiles yourself. A successful restaurant will have many mentions across the internet. If you have profiles on these online review sites that you have not claimed, then that means you are not in control of your online presence or online reputation. An internet marketing specialist can employ their marketing efforts to help you track down these profiles and claim them as your own as a part of your overall marketing strategy.
4. Interact with your reviewers and reply to them.
A good idea to follow is that for every review you get, you as the restaurant owner should reply to it. Even if it is just a star rating, reply and say thank you. Vary your responses as well so it does not look like a canned response. If a customer takes the time to leave a detailed review, comment back and point out some of the highlights of their review so you can show that you read it all. Interacting with your online reviews in a polite and pleasant manner is a great way to show that you care deeply about your own restaurant and is a good way to establish customer trust. This will help guide consumer behavior on your pages.
Do not reply in a contentious manner if you do receive a negative review. Instead, reply telling them that you apologize for the bad experience and ask if there is anything you can do to make it up to them. If a potential customer sees that you are combative in your responses to online reviews, they may be dissuaded to come to your restaurant.
5. Treat your employees well and let customers see that.
Key things to focus on include that not everyone who leaves you a review may be a customer and that sometimes, current and former employees also leave reviews on your online review sites. If an unhappy employee decides to leave a negative review, that could hurt your online reputation. Make sure everything in your own restaurant is operating under the guidelines of the labor department or Fair Labor Standards Act. For hostesses and busboys, consider offering a tip pool or tip credit as a perk.
The restaurant industry is highly competitive, especially now with the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the United States. If customers see that you are treating your employees well, from the executive chef to the busboys, and doing everything possible to protect their health such as social distancing, wearing masks, and other suggestions for disease control, they might just be more likely to visit you and leave a positive review for you. Small businesses, local businesses, and restaurants are shuttering their doors right now and an influx of positive reviews giving social proof of your generosity could contribute to your restaurant business weathering this current storm.
Small business trends right now are not looking very promising for a lot of Americans, but the good news is that you can help your restaurant, cash flow, and bottom line by focusing on the importance of customer reviews, working on how you as a business owner can help your staff through this uncertain time, and employing best practice when it comes to increasing your online reviews.