In this day and age of intense competition, restaurants should strive to keep the best possible image online. According to Search Engine Land, “58 percent of consumers put the highest weight on the overall star rating.” This means that one bad review could mean the loss of hundreds if not thousands of dollars in sales over the long run. Unfortunately, bad reviews are nearly impossible to avoid. There’s bound to be some disliking with so many different people trying out your food and communicating with your staff. The key to restaurant reputation management is awareness. The good old word of mouth is amplified many times over due to the internet, and being aware of what reviews are saying about you is vital for a business that wants to last.
What kind of sites do customers look at for food suggestions?
First, there’s Tripadvisor; this recommendation site allows consumers to leave a rating and review the establishment’s performance. The user is asked to express whether or not he would recommend the establishment. Tripadvisor is visited by over 315 million visitors per month worldwide. Tripadvisor results can appear on the first page of search engines. Negative comments directly impact the establishment’s presence and reputation. It’s painful enough getting a bad review, but it can be even worse when a customer searches up your restaurant to see the menu on google, only to find the bad review and decide otherwise. Tripadvisor can be considered a “touristy” kind of review site. People who are locals are likely to look elsewhere. Sites like Yelp (which offers long reviews and photos taken by customers), Cityvox (review site for outings, 38,000 restaurants, and 300,000 reviews), or Foursquare are typically more common among locals. While it’s good to keep an eye on your reputation among all sites, some sites might be more important depending on your location and types of customers.
On the social media side, Facebook and Instagram are also critical because they are viral sites. A customer can now leave reviews on your Facebook pages or post pictures of the food that was messed up in some way by the chef and tag your restaurant on Instagram. Having a presence on each site is vital. Also, it doesn’t hurt to post some beautiful food pictures to entice your loyal followers. Reviews posted on Google My Business listings, which appear right under your listing, should also be considered. Google geolocates the computer and automatically adds “local” results to its links. Google Local offers restaurant contact details, reviews, and ratings. To be well referenced locally, it is necessary to enter information about your profile on Google Address carefully; it can be the primary traffic source for local sites.
A few honorable mentions are Opentable, which offers a rating system based on different criteria (food, service, and atmosphere), or Zagat, which is developing a rating system for Internet users to select the best restaurants.
How Truthful Are These “Reviews”?
While most patrons are generally good-natured, there’s always a few bad ones who will over exaggerate and even try to extort free food to remove these bad reviews. Competitors are also known to leave false reviews so that they can harm your business. That’s why online reviews should be taken with a grain of salt, especially if it concerns your employees.
According to PC MAG, 39% of online reviews are unreliable. For example, the lack of control over Tripadvisor casts doubt on the reliability of comments and the possibility of fraud. In Europe, Tripadvisor is heavily criticized by professionals in the food review business who question the authenticity of the opinions presented. For its part, TripAdvisor explains on its site the various means to identify and stop fraudulent practices. Its chairman stated in a recent letter that “TripAdvisor has a zero-tolerance policy for fraud. ” But unfortunately, zero-tolerance policies are not enough to deter people with malicious intent. The risks of restaurants self-promoting or a jealous competitor are real.
How to respond to bad reviews?
Faced with this flood of opinions, restaurateurs and chefs do not always know what attitude to adopt. Should we pretend that these opinions do not exist or take them into account, knowing that so many people look to these sites before visiting? Actually, no, the most crucial step is taking your reputation in your own hands. Claiming ownership of your restaurant listings in these sites like Google My Business, Yelp, etc, will allow you to respond to negative comments. You have to be professional and courteous in your responses no matter how infuriating, but this can appease the unhappy customer. Sometimes it is enough to thank them for their feedback and apologize. Responding to these negative reviews publicly and responsively helps show customers that your restaurant has effective customer service and that you care about your brand. Finally, don’t forget that this allows you actually to improve your restaurant. Not all bad reviews are ill-intentioned. Sometimes the customer is genuinely upset and wants you to fix something. This will enable you to adjust specific points of your restaurant and avoid other negative reviews later.
Consider hiring a reputation agency.
A firm specializing in reputation management can offer solutions tailored to your needs. For example, review management. The firm could take control of your listings on all platforms to respond to reviews for you in the most professional way possible. In the event of a negative link on the first page of Google results, an e-reputation agency will implement a sculpting strategy. This will aim to enhance and maximize all the positive content about your restaurant on the web. This long-term work gradually helps to bring down the impact of negative links concerning your restaurant.
All in all, having a strong reputation online these days can be the life force of restaurants in this day and age. Being aware, sincere, and proactive is all you need to do for restaurant reputation management. But a strong reputation does not always mean a healthy number of sales. The On Demand Company has helped over 600 restaurants like yours grow to the next level by creating a virtual brand and optimizing it. The best part? Our initial consultation call is entirely free! Feel free to learn more about us here!