More than ever, customers are relying on online reviews to help them figure out where to eat. For a lot of guests, eating out at a restaurant is a special occasion that doesn’t happen every day. For this reason, people want to collect as much information as possible ahead of time so they can be sure of having a memorable and delicious experience. It’s important now more than ever to increase positive online restaurant reviews.
With the popularity of sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor, collecting that info is easier than ever and online reviews are now playing a major role in determining whether or not new customers will find their way to your tables.
In order to maintain your restaurant’s stellar reputation and attract new customers, you’ll need to focus a fair amount of your branding and marketing attention on increasing positive online reviews.
How To Increase Positive Online Restaurant Reviews In 6 Steps
Follow these tips on how to increase positive online restaurant reviews and watch both the glowing feedback and the customers roll in.
1. Invite Your Regulars To Review
If you have a solid base of regular customers who love your business and with whom you’ve already developed an established relationship, you can reach out to them and invite them to leave a positive review online. It’s best to do this in person, at the end of a particularly exceptional dining experience.
Customers who you’ve spent time building a positive relationship with will want your business to succeed and online reviews are a simple extension of the word-of-mouth praise they’re likely already giving you. Likely your regulars will be keen to spread the word about one of their favourite establishments so don’t underestimate the power of a polite and gentle suggestion.
2. Build Relationships With Your Clientele
What if you’re a new business that doesn’t have established relationships with regulars? Well then it’s time to start building that loyal customer base. Take note of the guests who make a point to complement the owner or manager at the end of the meal as well as the guests who return more than once.
Having an up-to-date guestbook with client profiles is a great first step in keeping track of your budding regulars. Once you’ve determined your biggest potential fans, make a point to develop a relationship with them as the owner and encourage your managers to do the same. Once in a while, send them a little digestif or appetizer on the house to show how much you appreciate their business.
Now that you’ve built relationships, you can invite those new regulars to support your business online, again with that gentle power of suggestion.
3. Partner With Software That Encourages Reviews
Think about partnering with a software program like OpenTable which, in addition to handling your reservation book, prompts guests via email to review their dining experience. Having a reminder arrive right to their inbox after a great meal makes customers more likely to review a restaurant.
Furthermore, using this kind of software ensures that the people leaving reviews are people who actually ate at your restaurant. If you’re not interested in partnering with outside reservation software, you can also send personal emails inviting former diners to leave a review.
4. Engage With Existing Positive Reviews
The online world is all about creating community and engagement — including in the world of reviews! Take a few minutes each week to respond with thanks to some of the positive reviews you’ve already received. Not only will existing reviewers appreciate the connection and make more of an effort to become repeat customers, but potential reviewers will also be more inclined to leave feedback when they see the impact it is making on the business owner and feel like they can connect with him or her on a personal level. Connecting on this level is one of the best strategies on how to increase positive online restaurant reviews.
5. Update Your Profiles
Make sure that your business profiles on sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor are up-to-date with correct business information and attractive photos.
If a business’s page looks inactive or out-of-date, customers won’t be motivated to leave a review since they’ll think the webpage isn’t in use or of relevance to others. Monitor your online presence every couple of months as part of your marketing and branding strategy and make changes or updates as needed.
6. Set Up A Review Station
If you feel it suits the tone and atmosphere of your restaurant, set up a review station with an iPad where customers can easily leave a review before they even leave the building. Making the review process easy and immediate will greatly increase the chances that happy customers will take the time to share their experience. If you go this route, just be careful to monitor what review sites are accessible at your station as some penalize businesses if too many reviews are coming from one IP address.
No matter what stage you’re at in the growth and development of your restaurant business, there is always potential to build strong relationships with your customers and incentivize them to leave positive reviews. Remember that above all else, the key on how to increase positive online restaurant reviews is always to offer incredible food and amazing service. Customers who love your business will want to see it succeed and will be happy to do whatever they can to help!