Technology has transformed the way we live our lives – and how we do business. This is particularly true in the restaurant industry. In the past, word of mouth – and perhaps reviews from a restaurant critic – were all that most restaurant owners had to worry about in terms of reviews. Today, there are any number of review sites where customers can leave their thoughts on your food, service and more…for better or for worse.
These sites can be a boon for a restaurant, serving as a type of free marketing. At the same time, a single angry diner can crater your business’ reputation with an unfair review. That is why it is vital to carefully monitor these review sites, reading and responding carefully to reviews.
Below, we list 10 of the best restaurant review sites – the ones that are used most often by people before deciding where to eat. Make sure to claim your profile on these sites, and then respond appropriately to any reviews that customers leave.
First: Do Reviews Matter?
Reviews are more important than ever to the success of a restaurant. According to one survey, a whopping 60% of diners check online reviews before choosing a restaurant. Tellingly, 25% more people turn to reviews from fellow customers over those from professional food critics.
Positive reviews often translate into higher profits. A study from a researcher at Harvard Business School found that a one star increase in a restaurant’s Yelp rating was associated with a 5 to 9% increase in revenue. This statistic is particularly crucial, as it shows that managing your online reviews is directly linked to your business’ profitability.
The bottom line for restaurant owners? You need to pay attention to reviews, both positive and negative. Like it or not, these sites matter when it comes to your bottom line. Monitoring them and responding appropriately is necessary to running a successful restaurant.
What Sites Should I Be Monitoring?
Let’s face it – there are a lot of review sites out there, and you can’t follow all of them. As a restaurant owner, your time is limited. While you can’t monitor all of the restaurant review sites, it makes sense to focus on a few top sites.
There are four sites that are an absolute must for any restaurant owner to monitor: Google, Yelp, Facebook, and TripAdvisor. Beyond these four core websites, you may consider following OpenTable, Zomato, Zagat, Foursquare, The Infatuation, and AllergyEats to cover more bases.
There are a lot of review sites out there, including ones specifically devoted to restaurants. But the single most important site for most businesses is Google. That’s because most people will turn to Google to find restaurants near them.
The number of reviews that your restaurant has and the quality of those reviews are two of the factors that Google uses to determine which restaurants appear in searches. That is why it is vital that restaurant owners claim their Google My Business account. From there, you can add information about your restaurant, and view and reply to reviews.
Although Yelp isn’t limited to restaurant reviews, it is often considered the top restaurant review site. In fact, many map applications link to Yelp reviews for restaurants. If you’re on the road and looking for a place to eat, chances are good that your map will send you to a Yelp review of various eateries in the area.
If you own a restaurant, make sure to claim your listing on the Yelp site. From there, you can post information about your restaurant (including a menu) and monitor and respond to reviews. If you notice fake reviews, you may even be able to have Yelp delete them.
When you think of restaurant review sites, Facebook probably doesn’t spring to mind. Yet this social media giant plays a big role for many businesses – including restaurants. Facebook users have the ability to leave reviews on business pages and may even leave comments on unrelated posts about the service and quality of your establishment.
As part of a broader social media strategy, your restaurant should have a Facebook page. Once it has been set up, be sure to monitor comments, messages, and reviews. You can also use the site to directly communicate with customers, advertise specials, and more.
Although TripAdvisor isn’t as widely used as Yelp, it is still popular for restaurant reviews – particularly for tourists. When people are on vacation or traveling for work, they often turn to TripAdvisor to find a place to eat. If you have a bunch of negative reviews on the site, it will likely decrease the amount of tourist business you do.
As with Yelp, you can claim your restaurant’s listing on TripAdvisor. Once you have done that, you can log in to view and respond to reviews.
OpenTable is a site that is used to book reservations, but it also has restaurant reviews. It is available in most major cities, as well as locations throughout the world. If you are using OpenTable’s booking system, make sure that you are also monitoring its reviews section.
In 2015, Zomato acquired Urbanspoon to corner more of the online review market in the United States. Like TripAdvisor and Yelp, Zomato allows restaurant owners to post additional information, such as opening and closing times and menus. Be sure to claim your restaurant listing so that you can monitor reviews and respond as necessary.
Zagat is a well-established restaurant review company, founded in 1979 to help people figure out where to eat. In 2011, Google purchased Zagat, making its reviews more available online. While the company has since been purchased by The Infatuation, it remains an important tool for restaurant owners. Making sure that your Google My Business Profile has been claimed and is updated so that it appears in Zagat.
Foursquare got its start as a check-in app, with early users of social media using it to let people know where they are. Today, it has become well known as a restaurant review site. While it isn’t as popular as Yelp, filling out a profile for your restaurant on Foursquare can help you respond to both positive and negative reviews.
Many of the sites listed above were built with an older generation in mind. The Infatuation is different, relying on reviews from a team of writers in select cities to cater to a younger crowd. If your restaurant is located in Atlanta, London, L.A., Miami, New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Seattle, or Washington, DC, reach out to the site to request a review.
Today, people are more conscious than ever before of allergens in foods and the potential for cross-contamination. If your restaurant features allergy-friendly fare, then getting listed on AllergyEats can bring in a whole new crowd of diners. Once it has been listed, users can submit reviews that you can monitor and respond to, particularly when it comes to questions about food allergies.
Should I Respond to Reviews?
Monitoring these review sites is just one step of the process. You should also spend some time responding to the reviews that you receive – both positive and negative. Doing so lets your customers know that you care about them and that you are committed to making your business be the best that it can be.
Of course, any response should be written carefully. As too many restaurants have learned firsthand, an angry or offhand response can quickly go viral for all of the wrong reasons. If you’re mad about a review that you think is unfair, take some time to cool off before responding.
You may have the option of having the review removed if it is baseless. If not, then responding in a calm way, offering to fix the problem, can be great for your business. Always keep in mind that what you write online is forever, and use caution before you respond to any review.
Grow Your Business with Budget Branders
It isn’t easy to run a successful restaurant. In addition to serving great food, having competent staff, marketing your restaurant, and managing the business end of things, you also have to figure out how to monitor and respond to online reviews. These sites can be great for businesses, but are often a minefield for the unwary.
One thing that doesn’t have to be hard? Having custom-printed disposable products for your restaurant. Budget Branders offers a full range of cups, bags, bowls, and more in quantities and at prices that make sense for small to medium-sized businesses. We understand the challenges of being an entrepreneur, and want to work with you to help your restaurant thrive.
To learn more or request a quote, reach out today by filling out our online contact form or hitting the live chat button on the bottom right of your screen.