Good word of mouth is the best advertising money can’t buy. When someone raves about a meal, it can boost your business’s reputation as well as your revenues; a Harvard Business School report stated that restaurants see up to a 9% bump in profit when their Yelp reviews go up by one star. The importance of good reviews can’t be overstated—but how do you get them?
It used to be that restaurant reviews were the domain of newspapers and magazines, with critics handing down their judgment to readers. With the rise of the Internet and social media, the review process has become much more democratic. Food bloggers, Instagrammers, and reviewers on sites such as Yelp and Citysearch all offer their opinions on the best restaurants that are gobbled up by people looking for a great place to eat. A TripAdvisor report found that 94% of surveyed Americans based their dining decisions on online reviews. A positive buzz can be absolutely integral to the success of your restaurant. Here are some ways you can help generate reviews and get the word out.
Draw on Your Customer Base
Odds are, your restaurant’s repeat customers are already singing your praises to friends and family looking for dining recommendations. Encourage them to take their good reviews to a wider audience on restaurant search sites and apps. Creating a restaurant loyalty program is another way to incentivize reviews. Members can leave a review on Yelp, and then get a free dessert or discounted meal the next time they come in as part of a rewards program. Also, if diners are having a great time at your restaurant, train your waitstaff to kindly ask them to post a favorable review of their meal.
You can access customer ratings in the DoorDash Merchant Portal as well. Customers can leave feedback on the food, the packaging experience, and more.
Make a Pitch for Reviews on Your Social Channels
On Facebook, Instagram, and other social media channels, your followers are likely already fans, so leverage them for reviews. When people post on your channels about their favorite meal or positive service, comment and encourage them to leave a review. Also, create posts that ask people to leave great reviews on major websites, and include up-to-date links to your restaurant’s profile pages on Google My Business and Yelp. Make it as easy as possible for customers to tell the world how terrific your restaurant is.
Stay Engaged Online
Maintaining a strong online presence is part of the business of running a successful restaurant. There are many tools you can use to help boost the number of reviews. Your website can have a form where people can give feedback, and it should have links or badges for all of your review site profile pages.
You also need to invest time monitoring those review pages and being responsive. (Be sure to claim them as the owner!) The time you put into thanking someone for their positive words—or gracefully commenting on any constructive criticism—shows people that you care about their feedback. It also humanizes the restaurant and lets potential diners get to know a little bit about the people running it.
If you use digital marketing tools such as email newsletters or texting, you can solicit reviews on those channels as well. A follow-up text asking diners about their recent visit and requesting a review can be very effective.
Finally, add testimonials to your website or social channels to make reviews readily available. Even a handful can make a huge difference—according to one study, just having five reviews instead of zero makes customers 270% more likely to purchase your product.
End Each Meal with a Review Request
Include a small note at the bottom of each bill, thanking customers for their patronage, and asking them to leave feedback on your restaurant’s page on major review sites. This can work especially well if you have digital or email receipt capabilities since you can include direct links to the sites. It doesn’t have to be a hard sell, but it’s another avenue to help garner reviews.
Create the Best Possible Experience
If you want your restaurant to earn plaudits, you’ve got to give people something to get excited about. When diners have a genuinely meaningful experience, with exceptional food and excellent service, they will be more inspired to tell everyone they know about it. Marketing strategies are vital in generating buzz, but the quality needs to be there to back it up. Keep striving to make your restaurant the best it can be every day, and you’ll have people eager to share their experiences and spread the love.
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