Did you know that in the last twelve months, an impressive 73% of consumers searched online for local restaurants? This statistic shows that your customers are looking for you online. But are you showing up in those search results? 

In the highly competitive food industry, you can’t afford to stick your head in the sand and hope everything will work out. You must monitor what your customers say about you, respond to their remarks, and use their feedback to improve.

In this blog, we’ll explain how to create a fool-proof restaurant reputation management process and build a 5-star online reputation. 

What is restaurant reputation management?

Restaurant reputation management refers to the processes you use to track, respond to, and address customer feedback.

People love to talk about businesses, for better or worse. Online and offline, conversations about your restaurant business are happening.  In the best-case scenario, such chatter can create a positive  buzz around your business. However, on the flip side,  it could negatively affect your restaurant’s reputation.

While you can’t control what people say about your restaurant, you can affect perception. By responding to negative comments in a professional and timely manner, you can sway opinions and even win over your greatest evangelists.

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Benefits of online reputation management for restaurants

There are several key benefits to online reputation management for restaurants. The following benefits will make the efforts you put into reputation management worthwhile.

Infographic that lists the benefits of restaurant reputation management.

Increased trust

Engaging in online reputation management shows your customers that you care about their opinions and experiences with your brand. It also shows that you’re not neglecting or avoiding online interactions — you’re willing to own your mistakes and make things right when necessary.

For instance, if you leave a negative Google review from 2007 unanswered, your customers may perceive you as clueless or careless.

On the other hand, if you regularly interact with customers and provide a great customer experience, repeat purchases will increase, and potential customers will feel more confident doing business with you. 

Better visibility

Encouraging your customers to leave an online review of your restaurant will positively impact search engine optimization (SEO). With increased visibility in search rankings, more people will find and visit your restaurant.

Other ways of boosting your online presence exist, but customer reviews give you legitimacy. You can sing your restaurant’s praises all day, but you’re biased. For that reason, people tend to trust customer testimonials more. Positive reviews directly from satisfied customers bring credibility no self-promotion can replicate.

Data-driven decisions

There’s a good chance you created (or were provided with) a strategic business plan before opening your doors. This plan probably contained information about who your customers are, which social networks they use, where they spend time in the real world, their values, etc. 

Of course, much of this information probably came from best guesses based on market conditions, and the data is probably several years old.

On the other hand, if you actively monitor and collect customer feedback, you have access to current and relevant data and insights you can act on.

For example, if your chef often undercooks the chicken, this will probably show up in your reviews, and you can work with your kitchen staff to figure out a better cooking method to ensure your customers are happy with their meals.

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Online reputation management for restaurants: 6 tips

To make the most of your online reputation management efforts, you must have a clear game plan. Below, we’ll outline six steps to boost your online reputation.

1. Stay active on social media

Social media can be a game changer for your reputation. Our research shows that 71% of consumers who’ve had positive experiences with brands on social media are more likely to refer them to family and friends.

To reap the rewards of social media, you must identify key channels (the channels your target audience spends the most time on) and consistently publish high-quality content there. 

Maintaining an organic social media presence will help you reach more people and attract customers. You can also advertise on social media, which will help you get your brand in front of more eyes and boost traffic to your restaurant.

People often share their positive and negative restaurant experiences on social media. As such, social media monitoring should be a non-negotiable part of your online reputation management strategy. 

Example of a restaurant using social media to improve online reputation.

2. Review collection

Asking for reviews from satisfied customers should be a part of your daily routine. If that sounds like a lot of work, we have good news: automating review generation can make the job easy. 

You can automate review collection by getting your customers to sign up for special offers via text. Then, once they’ve engaged, you can set autoresponders to ask your customers to submit their thoughts about their experience with your brand. 

Pro tip: Looking for a review management platform? Add Birdeye’s restaurant reputation management tool to your tool kit. 

3. Respond to positive and negative reviews

Both positive and negative restaurant reviews deserve your attention. Positive reviews are more enjoyable to read and respond to, but responding to negative reviews is crucial — when done correctly, it can repair customer relationships. 

Whenever responding to negative reviews, take a moment to collect your thoughts. Responding defensively won’t win anyone over. In fact, an angry, knee-jerk response can make matters much worse. 

Always respond to negative comments in a calm, level-headed manner. If you make an effort to make things right, there is always the possibility that you will turn your haters into your greatest evangelists.

It is also a best practice to respond to negative comments quickly — before the reviewer has forgotten the bad experience.

As for positive reviews, thanking your customers for their comments can go a long way in building goodwill. You can even offer to reward them with a free dessert or appetizer upon their next visit to cement their loyalty.

Example of a positive review response to a customer.

4. Turn happy reviews into marketing materials

Some businesses will go to extreme lengths to collect reviews, but when the hard-earned reviews finally start rolling in, they do nothing with them. Remember: your happiest customers are your best marketers. 

Positive reviews make for excellent marketing materials — sometimes, your customers can articulate your culinary experience better than your most experienced marketers. Consider displaying glowing reviews on your website as testimonials, inserting them into blog posts, adding to your print materials, or turning them into social media posts. There are so many possibilities! 

5. Optimize business listings

Things change. From revised business hours to new locations and menu updates, keeping your customers in the loop is essential. 

The easiest way to keep customers updated on changes is to review your business listings regularly. Start by ensuring your name, address, and phone number are accurate. 

Whether it’s hours, reservations, menus, COVID protocols, or something else, ensure that your listing provides accurate and up-to-date information. This will help you capture more business from “food near me” or “restaurants near me” searches.

6. Keep an eye on the competition

The food industry is fiercely competitive — your competitors constantly seek ways to gain the upper hand. If you don’t keep up with the latest trends and marketing practices, you risk losing even your most loyal customers. 

Conducting a competitive analysis will help you stay ahead of the curve. You can do a competitive analysis manually, but we’d recommend using software to collect relevant data, improve your decision-making, and speed up the process.  

Screenshot of managing an online reputation with competitive benchmarking software.

Restaurant reputation management FAQs

What is restaurant reputation management?

Restaurant reputation management refers to monitoring and managing how customers perceive your brand. A huge part of this is responding to customer feedback online and offline. While you can manage your reputation manually, various tools exist to automate the process. 

How does reputation management impact a restaurant?

Restaurants receive both positive and negative feedback. Customers who leave positive reviews and get no response may feel unappreciated. Failing to respond to this feedback can harm your restaurant’s reputation. 

What are 4 tips to manage online reputation easily?

These four tips will help you manage your online reputation easily:
– Stay active on social media.
– Create a blog and publish helpful content.
– Automate the collection of customer reviews.
– Monitor and respond to online reviews.

What are the key elements of reputation management?

The key elements of reputation management include content, social media, social listening, and customer reviews.

How can I improve my restaurant’s reputation?

To improve your restaurant’s reputation, offer excellent customer service and high-quality food. Actively manage your online reviews by responding to feedback and resolving issues promptly. Use social media to engage with customers and showcase your offerings. Host community events or promotions to boost visibility and goodwill. Train staff to ensure a welcoming atmosphere and solicit customer feedback for continuous improvement.

Birdeye: The best reputation management software for restaurants

There are many components to reputation management for restaurants. Doing everything manually takes a lot of time and effort. That’s where Birdeye comes in. 

With Birdeye, you can effortlessly climb the path to stardom and build a reputation your customers can’t get enough of. If you’re looking for a comprehensive online review and reputation management solution, watch a demo today to learn more. 

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