This October and Through to Christmas I’m focusing on Restaurants Reviews
My website focus group this month are local restaurants and the online restaurant reviews that they are attracting from their customers which appear on directory type websites they have no control over.
I have done a lot of research recently and I was unaware of the sheer number of websites offering reviews and ratings for restaurants. I knew about online reviews as I keep watch on American blogs talking about local issues. Initially I started researching doctors, dentists, chiropractors and other physicians. This group in Australia do have a few reviews but nothing like in the states as yet.
Restaurants and accommodation however are a target for every bored traveller who fancies themselves as the next New York Times Food Critic! Cynicism aside – I do advise you to encourage your customers to review your restaurant.
But we’re going to offer you a way here to try and steer your customers to leave a positive review, not just let random strangers control your reviews and ratings. Not when it’s this important.
I will state quite clearly here that we do not encourage the creation and posting of fake reviews. Nor can we coach a customer in what to say in their review.
No business can be guaranteed to never receive a bad review from a customer.
On the whole, if a restaurant makes tasty food at a good value or really imaginative tasty food at the right price with good service that shows respect for their customers time and requirements, they will get good reviews. Most people are decent and want to say good things about you. They are in your restaurant hoping to have a good time. If they do have a good time, they’ll forgive small faults.
However if someone is having a bad day – whether it be you, a staff member or the customer themselves, then people want to vent. If a customer is both angry and internet savvy, he or she may well vent online and write a restaurant review to tell people to not visit your restaurant and rate you with half a star.
It is less likely that the customer who is pleased will leave a review. They just go home and go to bed.
Are You Aware of Your Ratings and Reviews?
A lot of local restaurants, cafes and food services do not have a website. They may be unaware that they have reviews of their restaurant online. They may be hurt and shocked to be notified that they have a bad review online. Apart from this understandable emotional reaction, the long term effect of ratings and reviews (that are now being measured by statisticians), are proving detrimental to a restaurants popularity .
Work by two economists at the University of California, Berkeley, published in this month’s edition of the Economic Journal, focused on the effects of positive online ratings on 300 San Francisco restaurants that were then collated to form a star system on Yelp.com, a popular US ratings site. Their conclusion? That half a star makes all the difference.
Read More Yelp Reviews Can Make Or Break A Restaurant
So what can be done to increase your ratings and reviews?
If you are not seating to capacity every night you are open, you’re leaving money on the table. Yes?
No advertising comes with guarantees. But increasing your online ratings and reviews may help to bring in more customers. It helps people to choose your restaurant over your competition.
I have a piece of software called a review gate and a system to help your staff encourage the silent majority to leave you a positive review. I will be happy to demonstrate it to business owners who contact me.
The review gate system & software set up is $195 and has a monthly ongoing charge of $95.
Its a completely new system so I cannot yet anticipate how many new reviews you can expect. My feeling is if you get one new review a week you’ll be doing well. That may seem very few for the cost but one a month for a year is 12 and one a week is 48 new reviews. Most local to the Coast restaurants have a none to 3 average with a maximum of 20 restaurant reviews which it took three years to achieve.
Increasing the overall average rating is much easier when you have more reviews to balance out one negative and bury it as far back in the past as possible. The cost of this system is half what a decent ad in the paper will cost but will stay available online for the foreseeable future.
To Avoid Bad Reviews Try Not To Disappoint People
Having a website which has photographs and descriptions of your dishes help people to decide that they want to visit your restaurant and taste what you have to offer. BUT Only display pictures and a menu of standard fare or people will be disappointed that they can’t have crocodile meat when that was the only reason they chose to visit you. Also some indication of price helps people to know what to expect. Meet expectations and people are less likely to feel disappointed and leave a bad review.
To Make it Easy For People to Write Good Reviews For Your Restaurant
Do what you do best! Make great food, look after your customers and make them want to come back.
Make your local crowd a part of your community in some way. Over 70% of them are online and 50% of these are using their mobile phone to look you up if they haven’t been there before.
Encourage them to visit your Facebook page and like it and share your pictures. Take pictures (with permission and tag them on Facebook) Ask them for their email so you can send them special offers and good deals. Email or post them coupons with offers and deals and put the same offers and deals up on Facebook. When someone is part of your community they want to tell their friends about you. Make sure what they say about your business is positive by being proactive about how you present yourself online.