One of the things that have revolutionized the way we do business in recent years is online review sites.
They can mean the difference between failure and success.
People love to talk. Social media and online reviews have given people the power to keep doing so. Consumers are freely able to rave or talk bad about your business. All this talking is helping other people to create a decision whether they should go to your restaurant or to your competitors.
There is a business etiquette called transparency which is harder to brag about than do. Transparency in business incudes being open to your customers about aspects of your operations as well as you, being open to feedback and criticisms. And with online reviews? The criticisms can be brutal.
Online reviews have become more influential, and so did the strategies of writing fake reviews became more prevalent. This is known as “astroturfing”. How do you spot astroturfing? Check out this article from The Guardian for foolproof tips on how to spot one. This article is not so recent, but the information is still timely and helpful.
Among the many online review sites, here are four of the top sites that you should monitor:
1. Google Reviews
Let’s start with the juggernaut, that is Google. This is the search engine that people defaults to use when looking for much about anything. Naturally, since it is run by Google, online reviews are prominently featured with accompanying images and other information. So, if a person googles your restaurant, they can easily see a link of your google reviews without even having them leave that search page. Not to mention, a very accessible view of the number of star ratings too.
How do you sign up for Google reviews? You can manage Google Reviews through your Google My Business account. It is a smart thing to do to claim your restaurant’s listing so that you can be visible to potential customers. If you already have an account, you can log in to view and reply to the reviews you have already received
Yelp is a business directory service and crowd-sourced review forum. About 20% of the reviews on Yelp are about dining establishments.
You can set up a Yelp page for your restaurant and log in to respond to reviews under the reviews tab.
Yet if you get a negative review on Yelp, it is not the end of the world. You can report a review to the Yelp moderator and have them look into it. The best chance of having a positive outcome on this is if it is found that the review has broken Yelp’s Terms of Services.
The most famous of all social media (still ranks #1) also plays a vital role in your restaurant’s online reputation. Billions of people are using this platform, and one quick search at a restaurant’s business page will show the number of likes and the reviews by patrons.
4. Trip Advisor
Trip Advisor is the world’s largest travel platform. It also features restaurant reviews so, you be mindful of checking out your listing here for what customers are saying about your business.
The ranking is based on individual ratings and the number of reviews you’ve gotten, as well as how recent they are. There are options to respond to reviews both publicly or directly to the reviewer. Most important, you can dispute reviews that are defamatory.
In an event that you received a negative online review, whether true or not, you know that your business has to push through. It is this mindset that can energize you to improve so that you can provide better service and get BETTER reviews!
How then, can you improve your restaurant’s online reviews?
- Are you confident in your food and service?
Confidence comes after knowing that you have the best Chef and kitchen staff. This is why it is important that you work with professional chefs who are not only capable of delivering exceptional service to carry your business’ reputation but also capable of helping you run a profitable business. When you know that your food and service is great, you are limiting the chances of complaints. Therefore, when issues come up, things will be easier to manage and there are fewer chances of getting overwhelmed to improve several issues at the same time for recovery.
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- Encourage new and better reviews
As a business owner, you have to be proactive. If you haven’t tried it yet, encourage your patrons to leave honest, positive reviews. You can get better chances of having your patrons participate when you make a personal request to them as they pay their checks.
Hospitality businesses used to deal with generally passive customers, but now engagement is a must since people are talking just about everything.
- Be active on all of the top review sites
Many people depend on social media to provide information under the sun and every now and then, a new platform or website can be the next big thing. This may seem taxing but, you need to find out as soon as possible if people are giving you the thumbs up or down. Try to cover as much review websites as you can, particularly foodie or hospitality review sites.
You can sign up for Google Alerts, which can help you keep posted about the health of your restaurant online.
- Deal with bad reviews as well as you can
No one desires a bad review, but you should face them nevertheless. Take the time to respond to negative reviews and focus on what they are genuinely complaining about. A lot of business owners take pride in their businesses, and it is easy to be defensive. Filter out any unfortunate adjectives in your head as you read along so you can be objective and understand the root of the problem. Many times, a respectful conversation can turn things around, the offence can be resolved, apologies can be accepted, and reviews can sometimes be changed or deleted. The goal is for you to turn a negative review into a positive one but it may not always be the outcome. Remember that the manner of how you handled the situation will be visible for other people to see. If you have shown sincerity and professionalism in handling the complaints then people may still take a chance on your restaurant.
Public opinion has taken over the Internet, and if you aren’t currently perusing review sites, it’s time to find out what your customers think.
Rather than let one review ruin your business, focus on getting more and better reviews that grow your business.
That’s it for this week.
As always, Professional Chefs on Call at Anytime!
Ciao for now,