Surviving the restaurant review jungle
You know an idea is a “thing” when Harvard Business School commissions a study.
An often-quoted Harvard research project claims positive Yelp reviews can increase sales by up to nine percent!
The study, among others, also calls into question the reliability of reviews in Yelp, Zomato, Zagat, MenuPages and similar sites. Many restaurateurs agree that review sites are murky in how they accept and feature reviews which can create an unfair analysis of their operation.
But the fact is most customers now check review sites before trying a restaurant — whether the place has just opened or been around for 50 years. So, what to do?
- Worry about a few, forget the rest. Odds are Zagat, Gayot or even Google Local hasn’t noticed your place if you do business in Bakersfield. These sites are heavily concentrated in large metropolitan areas, so outlying towns have less to worry about.
- Hire some help. A cottage industry with services like ShoutAboutUs.com and ReviewTrackers.com has sprung up to organize all reviews in one spot so they’re easier to manage. Reviews might show up nearly anywhere — from Google Maps and Facebook to Yahoo and YellowPages — which makes it an exhausting task to stay on top of things manually.
- Respond quickly with an (online) smile. Review sites are the new-fangled word-of-mouth. And we know WOM is the best advertising around. So, whether positive or negative, put on your best owner skills and thank those that compliment — and proactively address complaints from others. Your online reputation should be just fine if you stay connected and positive.