The goal for any restaurant owner is to ensure you’re providing a quality service to your customers. This includes food, experience, and general customer service.
But what to do when you’re a new and up & coming restaurant? Where do you begin?
Starting with a spotless online reputation is essential to set your restaurant up for success in your industry.
Think about when you’re suggesting a new dinner spot to your friends – what is the first thing they do? Google the restaurant, view their menu, glance at reviews, and spot-check their social media.
Restaurant reputation management is more critical than ever before.
This article dives into the vital restaurant reputation management strategies for up & coming restaurants. Learn how to bolster your restaurant’s presence digitally and in the real world.
6 Restaurant Reputation Management Strategies You Need to Try
1. Maintain Your Website & Social Media
The rise of digital has shifted the consumer focus from traditional media outlets to online.
Your restaurant’s website and social media can determine how customers view you. That first impression can make or break your restaurant’s chances.
For example, if they see a well-run Instagram with pictures of patrons enjoying your menu options, they’re more likely to recommend and try your restaurant.
Conversely, if they see a website with lags and maintenance issues, they’re likely to close the tab and go to the next food option.
Newer restaurants need to update their online platforms consistently, especially to attract patrons.
You should include all relevant information like opening hours, menu options, and other experience-related items front and center. Everything should be clear, easy to navigate, and well-maintained.
Ensure that your content is creative as well – this will help your budding restaurant stand out.
For restaurants stuck on managing their social media, consider looking at social media packages to view available options for up-and-coming restaurants.
2. Keep Your Offers Updated
As mentioned above, your listings and offers should frequently be updated. As a restaurant starting out, you need to be transparent about everything to grow and attract business.
Changes in hours, menus, updated holiday schedules, and other protocols can disrupt overall operations – your restaurant should inform your patrons as soon as changes are made. These updates can also benefit how your business is found online.
Local SEO has become a key factor for many restaurants and businesses. If you’re an Italian restaurant, you want your restaurant to come up when patrons search “Italian food near me.” These strategies will help your restaurant build a local audience.
Focus on optimizing your website to meet expectations online and boost customer satisfaction.
3. Monitor, Respond & Encourage Reviews
Online reviews are everywhere – from your website, social media, and restaurant review platforms. It’s key for up-and-coming restaurants to maintain their review queues.
A good response strategy for reviews of all kinds can give your business control and showcase your reputation to others.
For example, if a patron leaves a negative review, make sure your team responds quickly with understanding.
This provides an element of human connection that many find lost behind the keyboard. It will also showcase to potential customers that you care about everyone’s experiences.
Make sure to respond or “like” positive comments and feedback too.
A member of your team, likely whoever runs your restaurant’s social media accounts, should be proactive in monitoring your online reviews.
While it might seem harder to go beyond a boilerplate response, make sure every comment and like is personalized.
Another tip is to encourage patrons, after having a great experience at your restaurant, to leave a review, follow you on social media, or another ask that’s easy to do that can encourage more foot traffic.
4. Look at the Competition
If you’re a new restaurant competing in a busy district, you’re bound to have competition, especially with more established restaurants.
Everyone has their favorites, so your restaurant needs to have something unique that attracts customers. Offer discounts, provide live entertainment, host events, and more to make your restaurant stand out from the competition.
It is imperative to research and keep an eye on the competition. See what they’re experimenting with, and look at their reviews to see what they’re doing well – and not so well.
All of these can give your restaurant ideas for success.
5. Deliver Proactive Customer Service
While you should prominently display proactive customer service online, it is also essential inside your restaurant’s walls.
Negative experiences will happen, but if you’re frequently checking in with guests (not in an amount that overwhelms them), it will show them that you care.
Ask how their food is, if they need anything else, or how their overall experience is going. All of that information can help in the future.
You will also be able to resolve issues quickly and potentially stop them from leaving a bad review about your restaurant.
Show your presence on and offline.
6. Focus on Improvements Early
Finally, one of the most helpful restaurant reputation management strategies is learning and growing constantly.
Use information from your customers to improve and grow from your mistakes.
If your team receives negative feedback, remedy that early. The quicker you make the changes, the better your restaurant will be for it.
After that, having an exceptional restaurant experience is the primary goal of restaurant reputation management.
Set Your Restaurant Up for Success
Starting a restaurant in this climate is easier said than done, but the real challenge begins once your restaurant opens its doors.
You might also like: How to Market a New Restaurant: 10 Bulletproof Tips
Owners must invest in restaurant reputation management strategies to keep their doors open.
As online presence becomes a critical part of a successful restaurant, ensure your website and social media are adequately managed and updated.
Monitor your online reviews while delivering proactive customer service on and offline. Additionally, take a look at your competition and experiment with your strategy while making improvements.
Creating a positive reputation isn’t easy, but these steps will help your restaurant get started.
Anna Peck is a Senior SEO Specialist at Clutch, a B2B ratings and reviews platform. When she is not writing articles on the B2B space, she is binging every single television show and spending time with her dog, Roxy.