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Yelp, TripAdvisor, Facebook, and Google have changed the way consumers find entertainment venues and places to eat. According to the BrightLocal local consumer review survey of 2017, 97% of consumers looked online for local business in 2017. Of that 97%, 12% are looking for a local business online every day. That provides an opportunity for your restaurant to be seen every day. But, just how much has this online community that consumers are looking at daily changed the way restaurants function? Should these sites change the way you market to your customers?
Why Reviews (and Stars) Matter
The bottom line is you want to be highly reviewed. The more reviews you have and the higher the ratings, the more people will come to your restaurant. Online reviews are so important to consumers that a study by the Harvard Business School found that just a one-star increase in your Yelp rating can increase your revenue. While Yelp is the favorite among the review sites, it isn’t the only one that should be on your radar.
Google isn’t just for searching the location of a restaurant. Consumers can also place reviews on Google and when returning finds for a search, Google lists them in star order. Consumers don’t have to look far to find the top restaurants and if yours isn’t among them, you may never get a second look.
TripAdvisor is the go-to for tourists. For local consumers, TripAdvisor doesn’t receive much love, but when it comes to out of state consumers, this is the site they tend to go to first.
We certainly can’t forget the OpenTable app. This app isn’t just for making a reservation. It can be used to leave reviews and give stars to restaurants. Whenever a new customer comes in to make a reservation, that customer can see all the reviews.
Accessibility is Still Key
It isn’t just about the online reviews, though. It is also your interaction with the customers and all the ways they can reach out to you. Customers want to see you use menu software. Customers want to be able to make reservations online. For most customers, it is a hassle to call the restaurant and they would prefer to handle all business online. Customers want to develop relationships with the staff while they are in the restaurants. They want to be seen and heard.
What You Can Do To Help Yourself
As a restaurant owner, you should familiarize yourself with these sites and read the reviews. Respond to and address any negative reviews. You can turn a negative review into something much more positive if you address it. Don’t ignore it. When you see positive reviews, thank people for their feedback. Your customer’s needs and wants matter. Keeping your customers happy will be the key to your long-term success. Reach out to your customers across social platforms. You know they are online, so email them. Post things on Facebook and Instagram. Develop personal relationships with your customers. Listen to their feedback. Entice them to come back. Use these sites to your advantage and make them work for you.
David Brown is often called a ‘foodie’ by friends and family loves the restaurant industry and fuses that passion with bleeding edge tech to align start-ups to well-established restaurants with the information they need to succeed.