The restaurant industry is a very competitive industry where customer reviews and quick judgments have become a part of the trade. With the advent of social media and the explosion of mobile devices, and ghost reviews etc. the whole issue has been complicated. But customers’ increasing say is the reason why restaurants need to jump the bandwagon and steer it to its’ advantage. After all, misuse of it is a common side effect and this whole process is what is called Reputation Management.

Should I care about reviews?

  • Harvard Business School Professor Michael Luca found that a one-star increase in a Yelp rating leads to a 5 percent to 9 percent bump in revenue (1)
  • More than 1/3 of diners report that peer reviews impact their choice of restaurant and 53% of millennials (18 – 34yrs) report that online reviews factor into their dining decisions*
  • 61% of the consumers have read online reviews about restaurants than other business categories (2)

Now that we made our case lets look at the four building blocks for a coordinated reputation management strategy:

I Create & Optimize

Make a list of sites that are relevant to your business. Some of the major ones include

  • Yelp
  • TripAdvisor
  • Zomato
  • Google
  • Zagat
  • Facebook
  • Angie’s List (mostly for services companies)

If there is an already existing listing on these sites claim that page or create from scratch. Once you have listed the sites follow the below steps to make sure that these listings are optimized for accuracy

  • Make sure that your address, phone numbers, timings are accurate. Also fill in details about the kind of cuisine, price range, contact info etc.
  • Publish your menu or have a link to your menu and update your listings with pictures on a regular basis
  • Having different offers such as check-in offers and publish event information

II Generate Reviews

Now that you have created the listings direct your customers to provide feedback on these sites by following these simple strategies

  • Train your staff to request feedback – this is a very tricky situation and in this case, make sure that your staff knows how to approach your patrons. Never ever offer any kind of incentive to provide feedback but rather have your staff strike a conversation and based on the direction drop in a note for your customers to provide feedback.
  • Have posters/table tents with information so that your customers can locate review sites easily
  • Use social media and post on a frequent basis by posting about what your customers are telling about your establishment
  • Focus on what you do best – your product & service

III Respond & Manage

  • Have an active involvement with the customers reviewing your business on various platforms. Reply to everything and take note of any negative feedback. This is a sure shot way of maintaining a rapport with the existing customers and building new ones.
  • In case of negative reviews make sure that you respond with an invitation to come back and give your business another try
  • Make sure that you respond to reviews in a timely fashion – we suggest within 24 hours

IV Analyze

  • Analyze your reviews across different platforms – do you see a trend, is there an issue with a particular shift/employee
  • How do you compare with your competitors
  • Is there any particular platform that your customers are using more
  • Do you have to spend any advertising dollars on these platforms

Based on answers you should be able to take corrective actions and also manage your listings better

Your reputation is what matters in today’s competitive world and you need to go all-in in order to manage and improve it. Have a dedicated team or person who constantly monitors your reviews online and responds to them in a timely fashion as this directly impacts your top line growth.

*National Restaurant Association 2012 National Household Survey