Every restaurant will have some negative reviews; it's just the business that we are in. I am sure that you speak to many happy guests every day. However, when someone is looking for somewhere to eat, either passing through on a road-trip or maybe even one of your neighbors, with information at our fingertips these days, they tend to look to the voice of the people [the new word of mouth] to find out what people really think and if they would go back.
How does this work?
It is imperative that you read, respond, and take action to correct any on-going and repetitive comments. You can't just ignore these, and here is the reason: People look at your overall rating first and will consider which restaurant to choose starting at the top down, usually by price category and general location first. Then they take a look at the next 1-2 pages of comments and decide if they want to visit. Real people understand that not everybody will love you, and so they tend to look at several [5-8] to get an idea. Then they decide. Are you one of the chosen? This is why you need lots of good comments to off-set any occasional bad reviews. This pushes the negative reviews to the back pages. Take a look at your restaurant reviews as a team and decide if you would eat there based on what you find.
So, with that being said, who is watching your social media and responding to all the reviews? How can you stay on top of this? One way is to get the very happy people to speak up, not just the unhappy. Are you handing out cards or inviting your happy guests to comment? This is one way that can help you get good reviews at the top or on the first pages.
How do we stay on top of this?
Someone should respond to all negative comments. This shows the public that you care. If there are occasional negative reviews, people see that you are working to correct issues and care about the feedback that they give you. Just good business sense, right? However, often our pride gets in the way. "They don't know what they are talking about", or "people love our food" are some of the comments that we will say to defend our pride! This doesn't help. Listen to the truth of what real people who have no axe to grind are saying. Then, show some empathy in your responses and also some sense of humor. The plan should include your Trip Advisor score, Yelp score, Zagat, Facebook, and Open Table at a minimum. What are the top three things people are saying about you? What is good and what needs work? Only then can you make a plan to correct.
Find a team member that has a passion for Social Media
Someone should review comments every day; assign someone a half hour to do this. Find someone on your team who has a passion for it. Also use the team on your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts and post something daily if you can. A quick picture of one of your entrees, people having fun, awesome cocktails, specials or events keeps people connected and makes you relevant. You want to be seen as a fun and engaging place to go. Let people know that your restaurant is a great place to be. Track and share your comments with your staff, and of course, use discretion and common sense about not singling anyone out. This is not an opportunity to bash your team, but instead, to bring them together to solve issues. They do care as they want to make money, too, and be proud of where they work!
Lastly, always ensure that these comments don't get you and the team down. Take time to talk about the positives and enjoy those, but you have to address the negative ones. You will find that this really does pay off. Reputation equals revenue, and after all, that's a big part of why we are all here! For help and direction in managing your social media presence, please contact email@example.com.
Russ Blakeborough is Managing Director at Focus F&B. Russ works to reimagine food and beverage at hotels and restaurants. We work on refreshing your current concept and creating steps for improvement. We have the tools and resources for cost-effective and immediate improvement.
Russ, originally from England, now resides in Savannah, Georgia, in the USA, and operates worldwide.