Once upon a time, a neon open' sign would be all it took to get customers flowing through your doors. Restaurant reputation management wasn't even a thing. The waitstaff were always rushing around, and tables couldn't be cleared fast enough. But in today's digital world, there is a much different reality.
While having that open sign will, of course, make sure you can seat diners, there's a lot more to it. Your restaurant has to have an online presence and a good one at that. So, what can you do about your restaurant's reputation, and why should you do anything at all?
To put it simply, reputation management is the process of managing your restaurant's reputation. It's who you are, who you are perceived to be, and what the word on the street' is about your business.
It's also another name for online reputation management or brand perception. But whatever you call it, it all comes down to what people think about your restaurant. This can then play a huge part in how healthy your bottom line is at the end of the working week.
What Reputation Management Involves
Great, you think, just another thing I have to worry about as a restaurant owner. Reputation management can indeed add another task to your day, but it's an important one. What's more, once you get the hang of it, it can take care of itself.
It involves making sure your restaurant is present online. Once it is, you need to monitor the restaurant reviews you receive online, respond genuinely to negative ones, ask for reviews, show off those that impress you, and keep a close eye on your competition. Once you do all that, you may be surprised at the benefits.
Benefits of Reputation Management
The latest statistics speak for themselves. By actively monitoring your reputation in the digital world, you may be able to benefit from a steady flow of new and existing customers. Over 90% of consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Around 82% of consumers seek out negative reviews. If you find yourself in the firing line in a negative review, how you respond to it can make all the difference. What's more, the more reviews you have, the more your prospective new diners will trust you.
Essentially, asking for honest online feedback can boost your digital presence and even your bottom line if you go about it the right way.
So, this is where it gets interesting. You know that reputation management can benefit your business, but optimizing it and taking advantage of it is entirely different. Here are some helpful tips for how to optimize your restaurant reputation and reap the rewards.
Monitor and Learn from Online Reviews
Customers may not always be willing to give feedback to their server about their dining experience. This is where online reviews can be crucial. When you actively encourage and monitor online reviews, you can learn from them.
You can find out where you can make improvements, and what your customers appreciate about what you're doing right. Most importantly, you can show your customers that the lines of communication are open for their feedback.
Respond to Negative Reviews
No restaurant owner ever wants to receive a negative review, but they happen. And when they do, you want to respond to them most appropriately. By doing so, you can be a superstar with your restaurant's reputation management.
Always thank the customer for the time they took to leave the review. Address them, apologize, and sympathize with their experience. Where appropriate, take responsibility, make the situation right, and sign off with your name. You can even offer to discuss their concern further in person or through another channel by providing contact information.
This simple and straightforward act can end up placing more emphasis on your response than the negative review. What's more, it can reduce the number of negative reviews in the future while maximizing the benefits of the positive ones.
Ask for Reviews
While you can't ask your customers for positive reviews, you can ask for reviews in general. Not only can you receive local SEO ranking benefits, but you may even improve your overall online reputation.
Asking for reviews in the hospitality industry is easier than you might think. You can advertise your online presence on your table cards or even at the counter. You may even feel confident to say a quick if you enjoyed your dining experience, feel free to review us online! as someone leaves.
You might think that restaurant reputation management is not something you need to worry about. After all, you're in the business of serving customers, not a popularity contest. But the two can go hand in hand, particularly in the digital age.
- Make sure your business is set up online to accept reviews. This might include registering on dining review sites and setting up social media and a Google My Business account.
- Get into the habit of checking your reviews to learn from them.
- Respond appropriately to negative reviews.
- Ask customers and diners if they would like to review your business online.
- Understand that more and more customers are starting to choose a dining establishment based on its online reputation.