Restaurants live and die on their reviews. It’s true that word of mouth can make or break many restaurants, but how you handle the reviews you get is just as important as getting good reviews in the first place. Modest take-out place or high-end bistro, restaurant review monitoring is going to be crucial to your business.
Why monitor your restaurant’s reviews?
It’s easy to dismiss online reviews. Online critics can seem entitled, bratty, self-righteous, even outright abusive, and in fact that can be the absolute truth. But by the same token, many potential customers won’t know that. Negative reviews can establish an undeserved bad reputation and drive away business before customers even try your food. That makes restaurant reputation management crucial.
Stay on top of review sites
In addition to more general sites such as Google+, you’ll want to keep an eye on Chowhound, Urbanspoon, Zagat, and your local newspaper and tourism sites. Reputation services can help you with this aspect of restaurant image management. For example, ReputationDefender uses a dashboard system that collects your reviews and puts them in one place for you to examine. Otherwise, you’ll have to configure several alerts for each site.
Claim your business
Most sites offer business owners the ability to “claim” their business. Do so immediately; it gives you the tools to reply to and otherwise challenge bad reviews, a crucial aspect of restaurant review management. You’ll need that ability to deal with any bad reviews you receive, thank customers to positive reviews, and generally interact with your customers. This lets you build a community and, just as importantly, let your customers know you’re listening to their praise and your concern.
Remember that every review has something to tell you
It sounds obvious, but part of restaurant review monitoring is to read your reviews, good and bad. Each review offers a different perspective on your restaurant. For example, you may receive a generally positive review, but they might have some feedback about service, or menu options, or other points you can address. Positive or negative, read your reviews closely.
When you get a negative review, weigh whether it’s worth responding
With any bad review, it’s worth asking whether you want the kind of customers that review may drive away. Reviews that are profane, abusive, or otherwise paint the critic themselves in a bad light may not be worth replying to.
If a critic is reasonable, consider reaching out
If somebody is raising reasonable objections in their review, or simply had a bad experience, then you should consider reaching out to the critic. Whether you contact them privately or publicly is really up to the situation and the tools that the review website offers you. You may not be able to contact someone privately or may not be able to respond to their review.
Regardless, see if you can negotiate with the critic to make things right or come to an acceptable compromise. Once you do so, speak to the individual about the review and see if he or she will remove it.
If you’re not sure how to handle your restaurant’s online reputation, ReputationDefender can help. We’ll help you figure out how to get customers to write reviews and build a presence online that cater to foodies and diners just looking for a nice night out. Don’t let the Internet empty your tables, call ReputationDefender today.