If You Don’t Manage Your Restaurant’s Reputation Then Guess Who Will?

restaurant reputation management

‘Word of Mouth’ marketing has always been hugely powerful because of the impact it has on our buying decisions.

Why? Because a recommendation removes a lot of the risk when we’re trying out a new restaurant for the first time.

Basically we TRUST our friends and family to tell us the truth about the products and services they try.

So the more incentive you can give to your happy customers to encourage them to tell their friends about you and your great food the better!

But what happens when someone walks out of your restaurant feeling less than delighted?

The answer is simple…

You lose business!

Negative (or even indifferent) word of mouth is just so destructive for any business.

Especially in this digital age where Social Media has taken over our lives!

word of mouth marketing

In the old days, the negative effect of an unhappy customer was by and large limited to their immediate circle of friends and family.

Now however, one negative review posted online can be seen by hundreds of eyeballs in minutes. If the post gets a few comments, likes or shares then that number can be multiplied very quickly.

Did you know…

For every Bad Review you receive you need at least 10 Good Reviews to offset against it.

The average customer will only disregard a bad review and spend money with you when there is enough evidence to discredit it or make it look like an isolated occurrence!

And that makes perfect sense. People are not going to queue up to give you their money if there’s a strong chance of a less than satisfactory dining experience.

Now if that statistic made you sit up and listen, then you’re going to love this one…

If your last review is a bad one, then 80% of people who read it will dine elsewhere!

People trust online reviews, even though they’re written by strangers! That’s why review sites are so popular. The vast majority of people today will look online to see what people are saying about you before booking to eat at your restaurant.

Never underestimate the effect that negative reviews can have on your restaurant profits.

As a restaurant owner or manager, you have to stay on top of what’s been said about your business day and night, so that you can limit the impact of anything negative posted online.

But where do you start?

There are so many places where people can post comments to, how can you possibly stay on top of them all?

Google; Yelp; Trip Advisor; Facebook; Twitter; Forums… the list is endless!

restaurant review sites

Lots of Restauranteurs are now literally spending hours logging on to different sites to see what their customers are saying about them or are paying professional Reputation Management companies thousands of pounds to manage it for them.

What choice do you have? Negative reviews can literally destroy a restaurant in a very short space of time. A good reputation is virtually impossible to get back once it’s been lost.

Well I have stumbled across an affordable tool that will help you which I’ll share with you shortly…

However going back to the title of this post though for a moment…

If YOU don’t manage your restaurant’s reputation then you can be sure that your unhappy customers will do it for you!

So what is the best way to manage your reputation?

To answer this question I’m going to break the rest of this post in to 2 sections:

1. How to reduce the number of potentially harmful reviews

2. How to manage the effects of negative online reviews that are posted

You see reputation management becomes considerably easier when there’s less negativity to deal with!

1. How to Reduce the number of Damaging Reviews your restaurant receives

The best way is obvious…

Simply delight all of your customers!

Every customer who walks out the door of your restaurant should be eager to tell their friends about the great experience they’ve just enjoyed (actually if you’re using the right marketing tactics by the time they leave they’ll already have shared their enjoyment on Facebook).

Now you might be thinking that everyone who leaves your restaurant is happy, but is that really the case?

Hear me out on this…

Virtually every time I eat out I’m asked “is everything ok with your meal sir?”

Can you see what’s wrong with this question?

Your aim is to delight me yet you’re satisfied with being told that everything is just ok!

But it doesn’t end there, there’s another problem…

I will always tell you its fine even if it’s not!

Like many British diners, I only complain if it’s really bad!

Yet 9 times our 10 times there is always something that is not quite up to scratch or that lets the meal down. And that will usually mean that I don’t rush back again or recommend you.

How many diners do you get in your restaurant who are ‘satisfied but don’t rush back’ or who tell you it’s “ok” when it’s not?

Answer this next question honestly…

Do you really want to know when something isn’t quite right? Or are you happy in the belief that we all leave your restaurant really happy?

After all none of us like criticism do we?

Here’s my advice:

Ask your customers a different question in order to get the answer you really need.

Instead of asking everyone “if everything is ok with your meal?” consider asking:

“Was there anything tonight that did not meet your expectations?”

If they answer this with a “No” then follow up with:

“Are you sure there is nothing we can improve on for next time?”

Now you’re not asking if ‘everything’ was merely ok, you’re asking for specifics that did not come up to scratch and are more likely to get a more detailed response.

The follow up question is also subtly worded to be a request for help rather than a request for complaints. The shift to positivity will encourage your customer to be me forthcoming.

These questions are also more likely to stop people posting negative reviews online because you’re showing genuine interest in their experience.

But what do you do when your new line of questioning uncovers an issue?

You deal with it in a way that leaves your customer with a positive experience.

Don’t argue or question the validity. The customer is always right!

Offer an immediate and appropriate reduction in the bill. Apologise. Make the customer feel valued.

The lost revenue from the bill reduction will be less than the lost revenue from a bad online review!

Use your customer feedback as an opportunity to continuously improve your service.

Ok, so let’s move on to how to manage your online reputation…

2. How to manage the effects of negative online reviews that are posted

If an unhappy customer does escape undetected out of the door and posts a negative review online then you need to respond as quickly as possible. The sooner the better!

A quick, positive response shows not only the poster but also subsequent readers that you do care about your customers and your reputation.

Apologise immediately and ask the poster to contact you in person so that you can deal with the issue fully and to their satisfaction.

However bad a review is, you should never respond negatively!

I read somewhere (sorry I’ve forgotten the source) that approximately 70% of people surveyed said they would not use a hotel or restaurant if the management had responded aggressively to an online review.

If a review is really scathing and over the top, then it’s likely to be discounted by readers if the rest of your reviews are positive. Therefore in these cases where the situation is unlikely to be resolved satisfactorily, just post a simple reply stating you are sorry they haven’t enjoyed their meal with you and that you’ll act upon their concerns and leave it there.

Here are a couple of interesting statistics to bear in mind from the Cornell School of Hotel Administration:

On a review site, if a hotel (or restaurant) increases its score out of 5 by 1 point, then it can increase its prices by over 10% without losing any market share!

Immediately you should see that positive management of your reputation is well worth the cost of doing so.

Here’s a second point from the Cornell report that you should act on: When a business replies to over 40% of the online reviews it receives (both positive and negative), then its revenue will actually start to go down as readers perceive the responses as an attempt to influence them.

Therefore the takeaways for you as a Restaurant Owner are:

· Respond immediately to ALL negative online reviews

· Don’t just respond to negative reviews, respond to between 30% and 40% of all reviews

· Share positive reviews across your social media accounts and on your web site

· Encourage your happy customers to go online and post a review

repwarn

Now I mentioned above that I have stumbled across an affordable way for you to manage your reputation going forward that I think you’ll like.

I’ve found an App called RepWarn that you can load on your smartphone that instantly alerts you whenever your restaurant is mentioned on a review site or on social media. How cool is that?

Not only does it alert you immediately so that you can respond straightaway, it allows you to respond directly to the author from inside the App, so wherever you are at any time of the day, you can respond immediately in just a couple of minutes.

There is a small charge for the App but compared to the value it can bring your business it’s a small price to pay. The good news is that you can try it for a month free of charge to see if you like it!

However the App has even more uses than just reputation management; you can actually use it to attract new customers as well!

If you’d like to go and test drive the RepWarn App then click this link take advantage of the free trial now…

Alternatively, if you'd like to learn more about RepWarn before you try it then click here and I'll show you how to use it to find new customers as well as to manage your online reputation...

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About the Author

Richard Taylor specialises in helping and advising small business owners with all aspects of their marketing, both online and offline, to ensure they achieve the rapid growth they're looking for...

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