In the world of restaurant management, there’s a lot to do. But, once you’ve mastered your menu, your wine list, your staff, and your decor, have you ever stopped to consider what your restaurant’s online reputation is?
Mastering the online reputation of your business should be a crucial part of your digital marketing efforts. Your reputation is your brand, and how you deal with everything from business listings, to customer reviews, and how you respond to those views, will help promote your business and gain new customers.
Three Tips for Managing Your Restaurant’s Online Reputation
These days, nearly all consumers take to the internet to research local businesses when considering where to spend their money. According to a 2017 study, 97% of consumers have checked online reviews first. As a restaurant manager or owner, you could be missing out on a huge audience if you aren’t ahead of the game.
So what can you do?
When first diving into online reputation management for your restaurant, you might feel too overwhelmed or unskilled to want to embrace such a hefty task. In actuality, when broken down, it’s a lot easier than it seems. If you still find yourself stumped or uncertain, there are significant tools and resources available to get extra training, or you can outsource your online reputation management to a trusted service.
To help you along the way, we’ve put together this guide of three tips all restaurant managers and owners should keep in mind when managing their business’s online reputation.
1. Fulfill What Customers Are Looking For Online
Now that you know that a potential customer’s relationship with your restaurant most likely begins online, so put yourself in their shoes and brainstorm the type of information that you would want to see. Before you became a business owner, you were a consumer first, and understanding consumer behavior and habits is a great way to figure out your approach to managing your online reputation and other digital marketing strategies.
One of the first factors that consumers are likely to look for is your location. In this case, you want to make sure that your restaurant is actively updated and maintained on the number of online business directory listings where you appear. Your address must be correct so that your customers can get the right directions, and make sure you’re in the right location that they are looking to go.
Any photos that appear of your restaurant should also indeed represent your brand, be continuously updated, and be of high quality. Remember that you are building the experience of your restaurant to draw customers to your location.
Your menu is another vital factor, and this is a part of your overall website appearance. Like your business listings, your website is the face of your restaurant aside from your actual front door, and the quality and functionality of your site can determine a customer’s next steps in heading your way.
Your menu should be available online, include prices, dietary accommodations, and a photo gallery of some of your essential dishes. The strength of your restaurant’s online presence in all of these aspects ties into your overall online reputation. Before reading any reviews, potential customers will gain their first impression based these factors, so you want to make them count.
2. Show You’re Listening by Being Responsive to Online Reviews
After customers are drawn in and have completed their in-person experience of your establishment, online reputation management doesn’t stop here. Your engagement with customers online is part of cultivating a healthy reputation presence online and attracting more business.
Customer engagement is where online reviews and your feedback come in. With many online business directory listings sites offering the option for customers to post reviews of your restaurant, you want to make sure you have a strategy for responding to these reviews, whether they are positive or negative, and also cultivating testimonials going forward.
Online reviews are a great way to gauge the customer experience and gain insight into what you can do to improve for future visits.
Whether it’s positive comments or negative criticism, a restaurant manager should make the efforts to engage with customers through their feedback. Writing responses to online reviews not only shows the human side of your business but also shows that you care about the experience customers have.
You might be thanking someone for choosing to spend their anniversary or birthday at your establishment, or you might want to apologize for a negative experience another customer had and work to resolve any issues and even offer a gift voucher for them to give you another chance.
It’s important to remember that, although you can’t be in charge of how customers react to and write about your restaurant online, you can be in charge of how you respond. That response can be what determines whether that customer returns or even recommends your restaurant to their friends and family and develop loyalty to your brand.
3. Embrace Opportunity of Putting Your Restaurant Online
The internet grants us the power to build our brands and market our businesses in ways that never existed before. Understanding those ways and seeing them as an opportunity, rather than a daunting task, is an investment where when done correctly, you won’t have to worry about the return.
When managing a business where one of the top priorities is the experience of the customer, embracing the tools and resources available for online reputation management will help you build that experience from the moment they see your business online, to after they’ve left their server a tip and reviewed your restaurant.
Interested in learning more about how to handle your online reputation? We found a great source, check out the experts at RepCheckup!