You feel like you’re doing everything right. You’ve found the perfect spot for your restaurant. You’ve researched the competition, and you’re offering your local patrons a few dishes that they can’t get anywhere else. Your food is fresher, and your service is better (in your humble opinion).
As a new business you know that you need to market your great product. You’ve hit print advertising hard, but your “buy one entrée, get one half off” coupon is still leaving your dining room far under capacity. What are you missing?
The Power of Online Reviews: Why What You’re Doing Isn’t Enough
A great location, stellar print ads and proper funding are essential to your restaurant’s success. But, they are only half the story.
That’s because OVER half of your potential diners WILL check your online reviews before they decide if they want to have dinner with you tonight. If you ignore, neglect or harm your online reputation, you are essentially turning away more people than you seat each night.
Wow. That got grim. Here’s a motivational number for you. According to a Search Engine Land study, 73% of consumers say that positive reviews help them trust a local business, while close to 80% rely on online reviews as much as they would a personal recommendation.
Let’s not dwell on the ramifications of a non-existent or poor restaurant reputation. Let’s focus on the potential that positive reviews can bring to your business and jump right in to the key steps and tools that can create a 5-star rep and, in turn, a full house.
4 Easy Steps to Your 5-Star Restaurant Reputation
Step 1: Build Your Reputation
You need to start somewhere. The good news? You probably already have reviews out there. You just need to collect them, organize them and interpret them. That way, you’ll have a much better idea of your online identity.
This process will also help you form your reputation marketing plan. If there are any common complaints, you can correct them now. You can also use any repeatedly lauded dishes as the focal point for your next advertising campaign.
And finally, once your baseline is established, you should start asking your stuffed…we mean satisfied…customers for reviews. This will kick-start your dedicated approach to building your online reputation.
Pro Tip: Using an agency to help you build your reputation will greatly streamline the process. They can use their professional tools to collect reviews from around the world, organize them and solicit reviews for you as well.
Step 2: Market Your 5-Star Reviews
Give your good reviews a social media megaphone by posting quotes of your raves on all of your social media platforms. Any likes and comments you receive on your reputation marketing updates will only extend the impact of each great review.
Pro Tip: Bundling your Reputation Marketing and Social Media Marketing services with the same agency is the easiest and most reliable way to ensure that your 5-star reviews get the love and attention they deserve.
Step 3: Manage Your Reputation
Management essentially comes down to monitoring any reviews that come in and responding to each (good or bad) in a timely manner. Each ignored review is a missed opportunity to win a loyal customer. Thanking a happy customer will make it more likely that they will grow into a brand ambassador, while addressing the concerns of a disgruntled one will halt a potentially embarrassing situation before it can get out of hand.
Pro Tip:A professional monitoring system has the ability to let you know immediately when someone leaves a review of your restaurant.
Step 4: Establish a 5-Star Culture
We mentioned earlier that the perfect location, fresh ingredients and smart funding were crucial to your business’s success. But, especially in the restaurant industry, service is closely linked with the customer’s positive (or negative) experience.
Don’t leave this crucial component of your success to chance! Incorporate the importance of reviews and stellar customer service into your regular training program. With this foundational instruction, you will build a 5-star culture to sustain your 5-star efforts.
Pro Tip: Make sure that you link your reputation marketing training with a quiz. This isn’t a subject can be judged simply on completion. Each of your employee’s understanding could be crucial to the survival of your business.
Essential Reputation Marketing Tools
Just like your trusty paring knife or your dependable stove, you’ll need a few tools to help yousuccessfully build and maintain a positive online reputation.
Custom Feedback Page
When it comes to reviews, easy is the name of the game. By having your own feedback page, you will make the review process simple for both you and your patrons. Your diners will have one easy-to-find place to quickly leave you a review, and you will be able to effortlessly capture those reviews and syndicate them to the major review sites across the web. Now we’re cooking!
Custom Media Center
How will customers know where your custom feedback page is? One great way to drive them toward your review hub is to have readily available printed collateral with all the information they need.
When in the market for a reputation marketing agency, make sure that they can make the transition between brick and mortar patrons and happy online reviewers a seamless one. With a custom media center, you can design and print review cards, table tents or even book marks to remind and encourage people to leave you reviews.
Employee Training Center
And finally, a comprehensive reputation marketing package will also include training for your staff. As we mentioned before, awesome service is key to building and maintaining your 5-star reputation. Take control of this process with a detailed training course.
Common Restaurant Complaints:
As you turn your focus to your online reputation, here are a few onsite features to check out and improve if necessary. We’ve broken down the list of the top 10 restaurant customer complaints into three major categories.
Yup. You’re right. We’ve mentioned this issue a couple times today already. But that’s because we often see restaurants sunk by these all-too-common customer complaints. Along with your 5-star training, make sure that your service isn’t:
The Solution: While the food industry is one of the major employers in the nation, it is also home to one of the highest turnover rate. Try to stabilize your staff by finding people who are passionate about your food and serving others. Hold on to people with this level of professionalism for the best chance at a 5-star culture.
The complaints about food run the gambit. Some will complain that your food is too bland, some, that it’s too greasy. You also have to watch pricing. An overpriced menu will also inspire people to give a less than complimentary review.
The Solution: Use customer feedback to establish specialties. Highlight those items on your menu to let people know that this is a favorite dish of your staff and patrons.
The ambience and state of the inside of your restaurant are also under constant scrutiny.
Correct Noise Level: Don’t bill your restaurant as a romantic spot if your noise level doesn’t allow for cozy conversation. If it’s loud, you may want to cater to the family crowd or night owls.
Optimal Cleanliness: And this goes (almost) without saying, but any dirt and grim are a definite turn off for new and returning customers alike.
Order Up! How to Get Started Today
At City Web Company, we have experience with restaurant reputation management. Thus, we are primed to cater our expertise to your specific needs. It’s plain and simple, you win with positive reviews. You keep serving up your tasty dishes and stellar service, and we’ll do the rest.
Plus, just like you, custom orders don’t scare us. Contact us today! We can walk you through how we’d implement a monitoring, management and marketing plan specifically for your place.