Everyone enjoys a good restaurant meal from time to time, and now that the COVID-19 restrictions seem to be easing up a bit, people are looking forward to resuming that pleasure.
Competition among restaurants has always been fierce, and now, with limited options available for at least a while, that trend will be exacerbated.
As a restaurant owner or manager, you’ll want to be sure that your establishment is presented in the best possible light.
One cannot overestimate the importance of online reviews today. It’s been said that 94% of diners choose restaurants based on online reviews and that a half-star improvement on Yelp’s 5-star scale makes a restaurant 30% to 49% more likely to be fully booked during peak times. Furthermore, approximately one diner in three will avoid a place rated 3 stars or less.
Here are some tips about how to encourage your customers to review your restaurant.
Know your audience and where to find them
The current most common review sites are as follows:
It is good to create pages for your restaurant on some or all of these sites. Once that’s done, you should monitor them regularly to see what’s being said.
In addition, you’ll want to create your own online presence—if you haven’t already—to direct readers to these sites. These can include your website, landing pages, and social media profiles.
Ask your customers for reviews
This can include having your servers politely suggest to the customers after the meal that they leave a review, and show them how to do it.
The easier it is for the customers, the better. If you have a landing page on your website specifically dedicated to reviews, so much the better.
Also, chances are that they’ll have given you their phone number or email addresses while placing orders or making reservations online. In this case, you can send them friendly reminders via text and email. Again, it’s good to remind them quickly—people tend to become sidetracked and forget after awhile.
Respond to all reviews, positive or negative
In your response, include the reviewer’s name or address a comment they made so they’ll know you actually read it.
Thank them for taking the time to publish the review (positive reinforcement). In the event of a negative review, always do the following:
- Apologize and sympathize
- Acknowledge responsibility for the problem
- Take steps to address the problem
- Offer to discuss the issue offline or in private if necessary.
(One thing to beware of: Some unscrupulous businesses apparently post fake reviews in order to boost their ratings. Don't do that! Eventually you'll get busted and no one will like you anymore.)
Conduct the NPS (Net Promoter Score) survey
NPS is a management tool and survey methodology used to measure customer loyalty.
It asks responders just one question: “On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this company to a friend or colleague?”
Those responding with a 9 or a 10 are labeled Promoters, who can actively help your business.
Answers of 7 or 8 are called Passives, and those indicating 0 to 6 are called Detractors who can be considered detrimental to the business.
Companies are encouraged to add a follow-up question asking the respondent to explain their rating. This feedback can be provided to your team to be acted upon.
Watch the other guys
Another useful tool for staying ahead of the competition is “Collective Intelligence” software, such as ReviewTrackers. This has a “Competitive Report” feature, which displays data comparing your brand against others that are similar. This can help identify trends both positive and negative.
We hope that these pointers will help you solicit feedback that will keep your restaurant filled with satisfied diners. Bon appetit!
1) Alex Gomez, touchsuite.com, “How to Get Customers to Leave Reviews for Your Restaurant,” 5/24/19
2) Brian Sparker, pos.toasttab.com, “4 Simple Hacks to Grow Your Restaurant Reviews,” 11/15/17
3) Ford Blakely, fsrmagazine.com, “How to Get More Online Reviews For Your Restaurant,” 3/18
4) Migs Bassig, reviewtrackers.com, “5 Steps to Getting Started With Restaurant Reputation Management,” 5/5/20
5) Rexly Penaflorida II, reviewtrackers.com, “How to Respond to Negative Restaurant Reviews,” 5/8/20
6) Tripadvisor.com, “5 Free Tools to Get More Reviews For Your Restaurant”