The ONLY Way for Bars & Restaurants to Deal with Review Sites

 In Bar & Restaurant Operations, Marketing

Review sites are a part of the decision making process for customers whether you agree with their presence or not. One of the first things a customer sees when they Google your business is the corresponding star ratings and reviews from the likes of Yelp, Google Local, Foursquare etc. There is no denying that these ratings make a difference.

Harvard even published the results of a study showing that Yelp actually contributes to revenue increases for a business.

So, whatever you believe or choose to believe, and there’s no end to the conspiracy theories, how you choose to deal with review sites will determine your ultimate result. This is no time for the ostrich theory. Instead, here are a few ways to face your review site fears head on:

Find your business on review sites like Yelp, Tripadvisor, Google Local by typing the business name into the search box. Cry just a little when you realize that all your years of hard work has only earned you 2/5 stars. Compose yourself and then proceed to step 2.

As the owner of the business, you are permitted to claim the listing page so that you can make any edits to opening times, location,  etc. You can’t delete reviews but you can now respond to them as the owner. Claiming the page may require you to submit a scanned utility bill or take an automated phone call to verify you are who you say. Yelp gives you more info on this here, Google’s instructions are here and if you have a popular local review site, check to see of they allow you to do the same.

Now that you have claimed your page, you can reply to reviews as the verified owner and I recommend you do.

We all screw up, but its how we handle the apology and remedy that makes the longest lasting impression. Thank customers for their positive reviews, acknowledge where improvements could have been made and avoid a pi**ing contest with reviewers to see who has the last word. If someone had a bad experience, deal with it by addressing their points one by one and extending a personal invitation to invite them back to give you another chance. Many times, our clients have had their reviews changed by customers after realizing that they hadn’t given the business a fair chance the first time.

Never, never, never allow your staff, friends or family to “seed” your review pages with glowing reviews, extolling your virtues and announcing that God himself would have dined there. It’s not hard to spot a fake review. If you have fake reviews on your profile, report them by clicking on the “report for review” link on each site.

Check the sites regularly (minimum weekly) for new reviews and reply to each one. Cream rises to the top and those businesses that not only take care of their customers while in the business but also when they’re on a computer will be rewarded with loyalty and repeat business. Most bar/restaurant owners will never take the time to follow these steps so you’ll already be at an advantage.

Add the URL or logos of review sites to your marketing collateral such as bills, menus, business cards so that customers are reminded to review you. Don’t force them or make them feel uncomfortable if they’re not interested. If service is stellar or indeed abysmal, you can be sure they’ll rush to give their feedback.

Use review sites to improve your business. Whether you agree with the reviews or not, 99 times out of 100, they are real experiences from customers who care enough to leave a review, care enough to give you a chance to redeem yourself or care enough to let everyone else know what they can expect.

This isn’t rocket science. The businesses with the best service, best experiences and best food will ALWAYS have the best ratings. Without exception. If your business doesn’t have the ratings you think it deserves, the problem may not be with the review sites.

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