• Restaurant Marketing

Easy Way to Fill Your Seats During Peak Visit Times

by: Allen Graves On: September 14, 2022
8 min read

With heavy competition and a large selection of restaurants for diners to choose from, filling seats during peak visit times is always at the top of every restaurateur’s mind.

In addition to the competition, there’s another reason why filling the seats becomes more difficult. After the pandemic consumers are choosing take-out and delivery more than ever, making your restaurant’s reputation crucial for success.

  • 83% of US adults reported not eating on-premises as often as they can.
  • Meal Kit usage is expected to rise. According to a recent survey, 61% of 1000 respondents are planning to use meal kits more often.
  • About 67% of residents preferred using online delivery services during the pandemic in the US.
  • 86% of U.S. citizens have ordered delivery at least once a month in 2022.
  • According to Deloitte’s 2021 report, 64% of consumers now prefer not to dine in.
  • Based on a 2021 report, 64% of millennials say that delivery and take-out are ‘essential to the way they live.’

Given these data, restaurant reputation management is more important than ever, and it is the secret to filling your seats not only during peak business times but throughout the day.

The Power of Restaurant Ratings and Reviews

The Covid pandemic changed the way consumers search for a place to spend their money. More than ever, diners who are looking for eat-in, take-out, or delivery are searching websites like Google, Facebook, and Yelp to read ratings and reviews.

In fact, more consumers read restaurant reviews this year than they did the year before. 90% of guests check out a restaurant online before eating there.

That’s why it is critical to have a rock-solid restaurant reputation management strategy that includes consistently asking your guests to leave you a positive rating. And it is just as important to make sure and respond to each one of them.

To attract new guests, and to keep your current guests coming back, it is important to manage and maintain positive ratings and reviews on a consistent basis.

Here are 11 tips for restaurant reputation management that will help you get consistent positive ratings to keep your seats full and help your business grow.

1. Consistently Monitor Ratings and Reviews

The first step in using ratings and reviews to improve your business is to monitor and evaluate them closely and consistently.

Getting on a regular schedule of evaluating and responding to your reviews can help. Soon you may begin to see specific patterns emerging.

When you identify an issue, good or bad, you should take immediate action to improve it.

Above all, you must keep a consistent schedule of monitoring and responding to your reviews.

Tips for restaurant reputation management - responding to reviews

2. Request Ratings and Reviews

According to a Time.com article, customer ratings are dominated by 5’s and 1’s and largely lack anything in the middle.

This happens because most guests who take the time to leave a review either had an amazing experience or a terrible one.

Guests who had a realistic or ordinary experience just don’t feel motivated to leave any kind of review at all.

To overcome this, don’t be afraid to ask your guests to leave a review for you online.

According to a 2017 BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Survey, 68% of consumer respondents actually left a local business review when asked to do so.

If you have a restaurant CRM database, you can use it to automate the process by sending an email with a rating request after a guest leaves your establishment.

restaurant reputation management with ratings and reviews guide

3. Respond to All Ratings and Review

A study by TNS NIPO researched over 2,000 negative online customer ratings and concluded that overall 70% of complainants hope to receive a response, while just 38% receive one. According to TNS NIPO, the success of the response is determined by 3 factors:

  • The speed of the guest review response time.
  • The quality of the solution provided to the guest.
  • How the response is provided, and how genuine the response is perceived.

Likewise, responding to positive reviews can greatly improve the reputation of your restaurant.

Most business owners will simply leave positive reviews alone. However, responding to them can greatly boost the effectiveness of that review.

The upside to responding to negative and positive ratings and reviews can make a huge difference in guest loyalty, customer service recovery, and new guest acquisition.

4. Showcase Your Ratings On Your Website

Bloom Website Ratings WidgetAs your ratings and reviews continue to build, it is a good idea to showcase those ratings on your website and social media platforms. This is powerful social proof.

Wherever possible, mention to your followers and website users about your aggregate ratings. At the same time, you can request new users to rate you as well.

You can also use Bloom’s configurable ratings widget to proudly display all your new positive ratings on your website.

When potential guests come to your website to see your menu or learn more about you, these positive ratings act as social proof to further encourage them to come to your locations.

Over time you will likely see your ratings and reviews become even more positive. This leads to more new guests and retention of your current customer base, which equals increased guest lifetime values and revenue for your business.

5. Make Negative Ratings Good

Even if you strive to provide stellar customer service, a guest will eventually have a negative experience.

As author and customer service strategist John Tschohl explains, “If there’s an industry that seems to have more problems, and more difficulties, and more things that can happen that are bad, it’s got to be in the restaurant business.”

Customer service recovery refers to the process of identifying a negative guest experience or a dissatisfied guest, responding to them and resolving their issue, and then converting them into a more loyal guest than if they had never had the negative experience.

This creates an excellent opportunity for you to convey to the guest how valuable they are to you and your business.

Here is a great post about how to respond to negative reviews.

6. Create Ratings Feedback Loops

Using a WiFi guest intelligence platform like Bloom Intelligence, it is simple and easy to create an automated feedback loop to help improve your online ratings and reviews.

When a guest leaves your restaurant, an initial message will be sent to thank the guest and ask them to rate their experience.

If the guest leaves a negative review, a secondary message can be sent that would offer an apology for providing anything less than stellar service and can include an incentive to get the guest back through your door for that valuable second chance.

The idea is to grab the guest’s attention and offer some kind of resolution to their issue before they get to an online ratings website.

If they know their issue is being addressed in a friendly and positive manner, they will most likely refrain from complaining online.

The best part is that the entire process is automated and runs behind the scenes while you concentrate on running your business.

7. Use AI to Know Customer Sentiment

Not only are positive ratings and reviews good for your bottom line, but they are also great for spotting trends and measuring customer sentiment.

Measuring customer sentiment can give you very deep insight into your customer base. It tells you not only what guests like and dislike, but the reasoning behind the way they feel that way. 

The first step in utilizing reviews to measure sentiment is to monitor and evaluate them consistently. Once you are on a regular schedule of evaluating your reviews, you may begin to see patterns emerging.

When an issue is identified, good or bad, always take swift action to improve it.

For instance, if you are seeing consistent positive comments about a certain product, you might want to feature it as a special.

Or, if you see consistent negative reviews about a certain item, you could try modifying it, or removing it from your menu altogether.

Bloom Intelligence makes this even easier by providing an artificial intelligence-generated word cloud showing positive, neutral, and negative customer sentiment. It’s an easy way to quickly spot trends and improve upon them.

Bloom Customer Sentiment Word Cloud

8. Use AI to Optimize Marketing and Operations

Measuring customer sentiment is also a great way to learn how you can use it to your advantage in your marketing and operations strategies.

For example, if you have a consistent positive sentiment on a particular menu item, you can showcase that item in your marketing messaging or on social media.

Or, if you see a trend about 86’ing a particular menu item often, you can change your purchasing quantity or schedule for that item. Or if there is a trend about having a short staff, you can adjust your staffing accordingly.

9. Incentivize Your Wait Staff

Your wait staff is your front line to the outside world. They are the ones talking to your guests the most. Why not incentivize them to solicit ratings and reviews from happy guests?

If they see a guest who is outwardly having a good time, finished their entire meal, or left a great tip, ask them to rate their experience online.

You can even offer a tangible incentive like a free meal for two, or a monetary reward.

Training wait staff on restaurant reputation management

10. Discuss In Employee and Management Meetings

To keep your restaurant reputation management top of mind with every employee, it is a good idea to make it a topic of conversation in all employee and management meetings.

Discuss the quality and quantity of ratings and reviews you are receiving. Brainstorm new ideas on how to get more, and better reviews. Give Kudos to employees who were directly mentioned in any reviews.

The more you discuss these things, the more apt your employees will be to help improve your online – and offline – reputation.

11. Use Bloom Intelligence Reputation Management Tools

It’s time to start leveraging the power of advanced restaurant reputation management tools to grow your business.

Bloom can save you a great deal of time and energy by automating guest rating requests, displaying all your ratings and reviews in one place, and showing you accurate customer sentiment which you can use to improve the guest experience.

This is only one small part of what Bloom can do to save you more time, increase guest lifetime values, increase the number of positive online reviews, win back lost guests, and improve your restaurant’s reputation.

If you’d like to see the Bloom restaurant marketing platform in action, and discover how you can grow your business through guest intelligence and marketing automation, schedule a free demo or call 727-877-8181.

 

To see more of what Bloom can do for your restaurant or coffee shop marketing, schedule a free demo today, or call us at 727-877-8181.

Restaurant Marketing FAQs

What is Restaurant Marketing?

Restaurant marketing is the process of getting people to visit your restaurants. Restaurant marketing creates loyalty, provides data to research, analytics, and allows restaurants to gain a better understanding of their ideal customer profile. It utilizes all customer channels: guest WiFi, website, social, rating sites, mobile apps, email, text, and advertising.

Learn More About Restaurant Marketing Here

What is WiFi Marketing?

WiFi marketing is a marketing technique that uses guest WiFi to collect & clean customer data such as names, emails, phone numbers, customer behavior, and demographics. This data is used to personalize marketing campaigns to increase customer loyalty, build online reviews, and save at-risk customers. The performance of every campaign can be tracked down to the tangible ROI of a customer walking back in your door.

Learn More About WiFi Marketing Here

What is Restaurant Reputation Management?

Restaurant reputation management is the process for restaurants to manage customer feedback and creating systems to improve customer experiences, passively build positive online reviews, and save at-risk customers. It is a very important aspect of running a successful restaurant business.

Learn More About Restaurant Reputation Management Here

How Does Bloom Identify and Bring Back Lost Customers?

Bloom Intelligence uses machine learning to identify at-risk customers. When one is recognized, the system will send them a message with an incentive to get them to return and re-establish their visit pattern. Bloom users are seeing up to 37% of churning customers return.

Learn More About Saving At-Risk Customers Here

SAVE TIME, INCREASE CUSTOMER LIFETIME VALUES, CREATE NEW CUSTOMERS

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