Reputation management for restaurants is the most commonly overlooked part of a comprehensive restaurant marketing plan. Most owners understand the need of a great looking website. Many understand the importance of search engine optimization (SEO) to improve their rankings in Google search. These are areas where restaurants spend large amounts of money to try to compete with each other. All of this money is wasted though if a guest who finds their restaurant also finds a large number of negative reviews. A great website with a solid SEO strategy is like stopping a kickoff return on the one yard line. For all the progress it makes, no points are put on the scoreboard.
When someone hears about a new restaurant from a friend or by driving by, their first move is most likely to search for it online. The first result should always be the restaurant’s website, but in most cases it will be followed by a number of online review sites. These potential guests view this as a highly reliable source of information about your restaurant. They are far more likely to read these reviews rather than solicit the input of their friends through social media or seek out the review of a professional food critic on the local newspaper’s website. As you can see in the infographic above, the reviews on your site can greatly influence the traffic your restaurant receives.
There are two components of managing your restaurant’s reputation. The first is to do everything in your power to encourage highly satisfied guests to share their experience through these review sites. The second is to monitor your restaurant’s online reviews and respond when possible in a timely manner. Traditionally monitoring your online reviews has been done sporadically at best. Rather than building a routine of checking the ever growing list of restaurant review sites daily, managers and owners have stopped to check these when time permits. Anyone who has spent time in either of these positions knows spare time is almost nonexistent.
Recently, I was contacted by some innovative entrepreneurs who have attempted to make restaurant reputation management much easier. They asked me to test their service. Several of these types of request are sent to me every week. Most are for services that are commonly available or provide limited benefit to restaurant owners. This concept was different because it was something that I have long sought out to offer to my clients. I have to say it is truly a game changer for restaurant owners looking to drive more business into their restaurant by mitigating the impact of negative reviews.
Reputology.com allows restaurant owners to receive email updates each time a new review is posted to any of nearly a dozen popular review sites. They allowed me to be a beta tester for their service and instantly I was receiving reviews sent to my inbox. As I read the reviews I saw the tremendous opportunity that a restaurant owner would have to win back the loyalty of these guests by promptly addressing their concerns. Rarely does a product or service inspire this sort of excitement on my part. This is a service that will soon become as important as a Facebook account for driving new guests into your restaurant.
My only reservation about recommending this service was the price. Many people in the online marketing community fail to understand the tight budget constraints restaurants face. Many reputation management consultants will charge well into the four figure range each month. I fully expected this service to run around $300 per month. I was prepared to tell them that the price point I thought it made sense at was around $100 per month. Any higher than that and I could not recommend their service. You can imagine my surprise when I found out it was offered for only $25 per month.
My initial response was that they were nuts to charge so little. Then they made the deal even sweeter. They asked me if I would like the opportunity to offer it to my readers for free. They have created a special offer to launch their service and allowed me to announce it to my readers first. For a limited time they are offering restaurants the opportunity to sign up for this service for free or the standard $25 per month. The free version offers weekly updates on reviews as opposed to the real time updates offered for $25 per month. It is a great chance to try the service and see the value it offers. I personally believe that once you see how frequently reviews are posted, you will want to upgrade to the paid service. Much of the benefit of replying to these guests’ experiences is lost if you do not respond promptly. The small monthly fee offers a tremendous return on your investment.
You can learn more about their service and sign up at Reputology.com. I know this post might sound like a sales pitch. I assure you I am in no way being compensated for this post. This is a service I feel you should take advantage of at a price you would be foolish to pass up. This blog is designed to help independent restaurant owners make the most of their marketing budgets and compete with the large corporations. Reputology.com has my strong endorsement because it provides you a exceptional tool to manage your online reputation on even the tightest of budgets.