How Your Restaurant Shouldn’t Be Found Online

September 4, 2012 - 6 minutes read

When we ask our clients what makes them unhappy in their business, we hear the same thing over and over – online restaurant reviews. Not because our clients necessarily receive poor reviews, but because this is one of the areas that they cannot control, and often makes them feel helpless. Some of our clients take each comment personally, while others try to ignore them. We need a happy medium. We need to appreciate that while we can’t please everyone, we also need to adhere to the old adage that a happy customer tells one friend, an unhappy customer tells ten. Eighty-nine percent (89%) of consumers research a restaurant online before eating there. Of this, thirty-three percent (33%) check the online reviews first (AIS Media).

Online reviews are a great restaurant marketing tool. You just need to make sure that you are in control of the situation. To help you out, here are four ways that you DON’T want to be found online:

Don’t be found without having full access to your review accounts.

The number one sin operators commit is not creating or having access to their restaurant online profiles on social review websites. You see, all these websites, Yelp.com, Urbanspoon.com, City search, Google reviews ( the four most important ones ) have a link for you to click on to secure your restaurant name and own the profile and information. You just need to sign up and update your information on these websites. Make sure that you (or a designated employee) knows how to log in and respond to queries and comments. The user name and password should be in your name. Never use an employee’s e-mail address to set up the account. If you set up an account with an employee’s email address and that employee leaves, you’ll lose your account access.

Don’t be found without positive reviews from your happy customers.

Reminding your happy customers to write positive reviews is an important aspect of your business in this digital age. Seven years ago, you didn’t have to worry about someone going to a website and sticking it to you. Today, many consumers are doing this because they know there’s little you can do about it. Even a former employee who you let go will go online to yelp or rant about your business. You can bury negative, false comments by asking happy customers to kindly write positive reviews about your restaurant. The purpose for this is twofold: the positive reviews will help your overall rank, and they will also push the bad reviews down.

Don’t be found not responding to comments or replying to reviewers.

After you have searched for your restaurant on social review websites, claimed and updated your profile, you are now ready to respond to comments. On Yelp.com for instance, you can publicly respond to a comment or privately respond to the person who wrote the comment. Be careful not to respond angrily to negative comments. Don’t call anyone names or use profanity. Be respectful. Respond directly to negative comments and ask the person if s/he would be willing to discuss the matter over the phone. If it’s something you can correct or need to correct, invite the person to return to your restaurant and offer a discount on his or her food. When the person returns, ask him or her to rewrite the review. Try to turn the negative situation into a positive one.

Don’t be found absent from review websites’ mobile apps.

In the United States, we have over 300 million cell phones and many people are using their phones instead of their computers. Over 50% of U.S. mobile users own smartphones. Almost all the social review websites have a mobile application where people can find the nearest restaurant, post reviews and comment about your business. If your restaurant is not on these mobile apps, you are losing out to your competition. The more positive reviews and stars you have, the higher you will rank as one of the top favorite places to visit. You don’t have to pay anything or hire someone to build a mobile application for you in order to achieve this mobile status. You can achieve this by simply having positive reviews of your establishment.

As you can see, it is important for you to maintain and manage your reputation online. The future of your business in this digital and mobile age depends on it. Take hold of your reputation and control your business online.

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