Your restaurant can live or die based on its reputation, particularly in the modern age of social media. Customers can help you develop and strengthen your business’s reputation through their own social networks. It is your job as the business owner, however, to ensure that what is being spread about your restaurant is positive. There are many ways that you can directly influence how your reputation is perceived and spread. Here, we will discuss four easy and effective ways to take your restaurant’s reputation up a notch.
Customers: Service, Reviews, and Engagement
The basic and measurable metric for your reputation can be seen in the reviews customers leave online. Engaging with your customers should come first when wanting to upgrade your reputation. It all starts with the daily service your customers receive: the more positive an experience they get, the more positive reviews they will give you. But the review process doesn’t stop with them clicking the “submit” button. You must engage with reviews, both good and bad.
When others are looking through lists of reviews and they see the manager or owner is actively engaged with people leaving these reviews, they will know that you are attentive and feel the care and love you have for your business. Even if you come across a poor review (and at some point you likely will), there are ways to spin it positively through your response. Simple apologies are a good bet while explaining that “this is not the norm”; however, you can go beyond by offering compensation in one way or another. Bringing back a negative customer and giving them a more positive experience will show how you care about and pay attention to your business and customers. A recommendation would be to have them reach out to you directly to discuss their situation so that you don’t end up with negative reviews just to receive compensation or discounts. Also, understand that reviews can be changed, amended, or removed.
Your Social Media Presence
Your customers always have access to engage with your business at their fingertips – quite literally with their smartphones. When potential customers are out and about and debating where to go, it is easy for them to go online and see where restaurants are, the quality of the reviews, and how they look online. Creating a strong social media and Google presence, one that is accessible and aesthetically pleasing, will make someone’s choice easy.
Having a strong online presence means that you showcase the best of your restaurant: have pictures of your best dishes, list some 5-star reviews, and have short paragraphs describing the story of your restaurant and its employees.
Your Employees Matter
Employees matter beyond simply maintaining your restaurant. They can directly and indirectly affect your reputation: directly, through their own social spheres; indirectly, through their interactions with customers and how they portray themselves while working. Creating an inviting work environment will instill a sense of purpose and care for your business. They will praise you to their friends or family (sometimes they will even bring their friends to your restaurant). Your customers will also see how much your employees like their roles and you as an employer; it will be easy for them to support and praise your business when they feel the workers are taken care of and respected.
Beyond the employee-customer relationship that can build or break a reputation, there is the potential for current or past employees to leave reviews online. Disgruntled employees might not be kind, thus tarnishing your reputation rather than enhancing it.
Be Consistent But Unique
Your restaurant’s brand must be unique; there needs to be special and different reasons for customers to frequent your business over others. When you’re going through the process of strengthening your reputation, staying consistent while being unique is key. Return customers will want a consistently positive and exceptional experience; your reputation will get stronger for each time customers come back and receive the top-quality service they had before. Being consistent, however, does not mean being the same. Being the same will become stale, so a way to elevate your guests’ experience will be to change specials, menu items, or even the décor – not enough that it becomes a different restaurant, but enough for customers to have new and exciting visits every time.
As the saying goes, your reputation precedes you, whether that is a positive or negative one. But if you take your restaurant’s reputation up a notch, then you won’t be mad that people know it before they step through your front doors.