In today’s volatile economy, restaurant owners and operators are looking for low-cost ways to improve revenue and keep their guests coming back. Guest acquisition and retention are key to business success when costs are rising and consumer spending is down.
Perhaps the most effective way to get the job done without breaking the bank is to place a focus on restaurant reputation management.
Reputation management involves increasing the number of positive online ratings and reviews from happy guests while receiving any negative reviews as a way to improve your overall guest experience.
It’s done by requesting ratings, monitoring them closely, responding to every review, and making data-driven decisions to improve customer service and optimize your restaurant operations and marketing procedures.
Here, we will discuss exactly how this can all be done very easily as you watch your customer base grow, and your bottom line increase as you offset rising costs through low-cost guest acquisition and retention.
Guest ratings and reviews can literally make or break your restaurant business. If you’re not paying attention to your online ratings and reviews, or you’re not working to improve them, you’re simply leaving money on the table.
The more positive ratings you receive, the more consumers will trust that they will have a pleasurable experience at your establishment.
But the truth comes in the research that has been done around these rating sites and the potential effects that restaurant ratings have on your overall bottom line.
Positive Guest Ratings Improve Foot Traffic and Increase Revenue
A study performed by Michael Anderson and Jeremy Magruder, professors at the University of California, Berkeley, concluded that positive reviews have a direct correlation to increases in foot traffic during peak times.
They found that a ½-star rating increase resulted in a 30-40 percent increase in the number of 7 pm bookings.
Based on this study, although online rating websites may not generate attributable financial returns, they can certainly play a role in your restaurant’s success, driving more foot traffic and overall revenue.
At your next lunch or dinner peak time, think about what a 30-40 percent increase in bookings would look like at your restaurant.
Another study conducted by Professor Michael Luca at the Harvard Business School sought a correlation between online ratings and actual revenue.
The study found that a rating improvement of one star led to an increase in revenue of between 5 and 9 percent.
Interestingly, Luca also found that the star rating of restaurants played a much higher role in consumer decision-making, finding that website visitors were often overwhelmed by the number of written reviews.
Luca concluded, “Online consumer review websites improve the information available about product quality. The impact of this information is larger for products of relatively unknown quality…On the consumer side, simplifying heuristics and signals of reviewer quality seem to increase the impact of quality information.”
Why Guest Ratings and Reviews Matter
There are many more studies about the effects of positive guest ratings and reviews.
Websitebuilder.org collected data and statistics about the effects of good and bad user reviews. As you read through the statistics below, you’ll further realize how important and valuable positive user ratings can be.
Among the data, here are some interesting facts they found:
- 72% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more.
- 61% of consumers have read online restaurant reviews, more than any other type of business.
- 53% of 18-to-34-year-olds report that online reviews factor into their dining decisions, as do 47% of frequent full-service customers.
- 34% of diners choose a restaurant based on information provided on a peer review website.
- Consumers are likely to spend 31% more on a business with excellent reviews.
You can see that receiving more and better guest ratings is key to growing your customer base, increasing revenue, and driving down costs – and this is expected to continue for quite some time.
So, you should be doing everything you can and being proactive in improving your ratings across all the major review sites.
There will always be the occasional poor review, that’s just the nature of the internet. Remember that dealing with poor guest reviews the right way can actually have a positive impact on business. More on that is below.
At the end of the day, you should always be doing your best to provide quality service, excellent food and drink, and the best atmosphere possible.
If you do that, good ratings and reviews will naturally follow.
This will turn your restaurant’s pages on the rating websites into a passive revenue generator, and one of the most powerful marketing tools in your arsenal.
Automating Rating Requests
As mentioned above, requesting ratings and reviews from your guests is important. It will help to ensure a steady stream of positive reviews. If you 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.
Most restaurant operators today will not have the time to approach every guest. But there is a very simple way to reach out to your guests for ratings using your restaurant customer data platform (CDP).
When a guest interacts with your brand through your guest WiFi, your website, or your online ordering or reservation systems, The CDP will collect their name and contact information.
Then, using the integrated automated restaurant marketing platform, it will send an email to a guest after they leave your restaurant or order online asking them to rate their experience directly on Google, Facebook, or the Bloom platform.
When the guest clicks on a button, they are taken directly to Facebook, Google, or the Bloom platform’s rating interface:
This makes it very easy on the guest since they won’t have to go online searching for your page on the rating sites.
Bloom’s CDP also makes it easy on you. Since Bloom integrates directly with Google and Facebook, when the guest submits reviews on those platforms, the reviews are also sent to the Bloom Intelligence platform.
You will then be able to see, monitor, and respond to all reviews – all in one simple platform. Users have reported saving many hours a week managing their restaurant reputation online using Bloom.
Plus, with the easy-to-understand reporting feature, you’ll be able to easily spot trends and learn where attention should be placed to continue improving ratings and reviews.
Measure Guest Sentiment
Along with the automated ratings feature, Bloom Intelligence offers a great customer sentiment tool to help you optimize your marketing and operations.
As mentioned before, Bloom is integrated with Google and Facebook allowing you to read, manage, and respond to all reviews in one centralized platform.
Moreover, the platform will analyze all of your reviews and provide you with an AI-driven word cloud to show a graphical image of positive, neutral, and negative words and phrases from all of your reviews on Google and Facebook.
In the image above, green is positive, grey is neutral, and red is negative. So, you can easily see what your guests like about your place of business, and what could use improvement.
For instance, using the example above, you can see that guests enjoy the food, but are frequently upset by limited parking and long wait times.
You’ll finally be able to make informed, data-driven decisions to help combat rising costs and turn all your guests into regulars.
Responding to Ratings and Reviews
It is important that you respond to all of your online ratings and reviews. Doing so will show guests and potential guests that you care about their experience and will do what you can to ensure satisfaction.
If the review is positive, make sure to thank them for taking the time to share their experience. Tell them you hope to see them again soon.
Responding to negative reviews is also very important. Your response to a negative review can actually influence and impress potential future guests.
Make sure to respond in a positive tone and provide an effective solution to the issues that caused the negativity. This shows that you are actively listening to your guests and that you commit yourself and your company to making things better. Make sure and take action to resolve the issue.
Discover the Bloom Intelligence Restaurant Customer Data Platform
If you are looking for an effective way to improve guest acquisition and retention while increasing your bottom line, then improving online ratings and reviews should be a priority for you and your business.
It’s time to start planning for the successful future of your restaurant. Keeping a focus on restaurant reputation management can help you do just that.
Using Bloom’s restaurant marketing and customer data platform, you can automate the entire process. Then you can leverage the real-time guest insights and reporting data to improve your overall guest experience.
Not only will you get your current guests back through your door, but you’ll also attract new guests and keep them coming back.
In a rough economy with rising food and labor costs and diminished consumer spending habits, guest acquisition and retention are crucial for success.
If you’d like to see the Bloom restaurant customer data 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.