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7 ways to get great Yelp, Google, and Facebook reviews for your restaurant

The Internet has transformed the way people date, shop, and eat—among other things—and now more than ever, people are turning to the web to read reviews of restaurants in their area. Restaurant reviews help consumers make informed decisions on where to dine so they can reduce the risk of having a bad experience. That’s why if you own or operate a restaurant, it’s essential you have a system in place for building and growing your restaurant’s online reputation. A positive online review is the digital equivalent of a positive reputation via word of mouth.

Whether you’re trying to increase your 5-star reviews or are still searching for your first comments, the following tips will help you build a robust portfolio of restaurant reviews on Yelp, Google, Facebook, and many other food review platforms.

Building your review portfolio

One of the best ways to start cultivating online reviews is to enlist your family and friends for support. No one likes being the first reviewer, and people are more likely to leave a review on the pages of restaurants that have pre-existing reviews, so it behooves you to self-generate some content in the absence of it. Asking your family and friends to leave positive reviews of your restaurant can not only jumpstart reviews from other customers but can also be the difference for someone on the fence who ultimately chooses to dine with you.

Once you’ve broken the metaphorical ice and you have your first positive reviews in the can, you’ll next want to cultivate a repeatable system that helps you generate a constant flow of beneficial reviews. Here are a few of the most popular ways to solicit positive reviews from your customers:

1) Create a survey

Creating a one-question survey that prompts customers to share their experience is a great way to begin stockpiling positive reviews for your restaurant. The question can be linked to a QR code on a customer’s receipt to make it easy to give a review following their meal. If a patron has a positive experience at your restaurant and is then asked to provide feedback immediately following their meal, it’s more likely you’ll get their feedback then and there rather than later. The longer you wait to request feedback, the harder it is to get it.

2) Send an automatic email

Depending on how your customers pay their bills, you’ll be able to link an automatic survey question to their purchase, mainly if they’re paying by card and you’re using a modern transaction system like Square. Much like linking a QR-code to a customer’s receipt, an automatic email prompting a customer to leave a review can be equally effective since most people check email on their phone. You're thus reducing the friction required to leave a review since customers will already be on their phones.

3) Give a discount

If you want to up the ante, you can offer a percentage discount to any customer who leaves an online review following their meal. After submitting their review, they’ll receive a discount code either sent to their phone or email, which they’ll need to present next time they dine with you. This little incentive can go a long way toward generating a solid number of reviews, all without breaking the bank.

Respond to all reviews ASAP

Just as responding to emails, texts, and phone calls on time is good business, so is promptly responding to your restaurant reviews. Giving a quick response to your restaurant reviews makes the customer feel engaged. The fact that you responded will go a long way toward building the type of connected community you’ll ultimately want all of your customers to feel part of around your restaurant.

Regardless of whether the review is positive or negative, you’ll want to provide a quick response, though how you respond might differ depending on the context.

If a review is positive, you’ll want to thank the reviewer for taking the time to share their experience and tell them you can’t wait to see them again soon.

If a review is negative, you’ll also want to thank the reviewer for sharing their experience, but you’ll also want to address their concerns or displeasure—and if it makes sense—offer to remedy the negative experience and ask them to change their review if they find the solution to be satisfactory. Here’s some advice on responding to negative customer reviews.

You must address any negative reviews of your restaurant head-on. You’ll look like a class act by swiftly handling displeasures, which can impress your existing customers—and potentially new ones—by reminding them that by coming to your establishment, they are seen and heard. Your customers are your lifeblood, so make sure they feel your care and appreciation.

Share your reviews on social media

A great way to show appreciation to your customers is by sharing their positive reviews on social media, which inherently creates a positive feedback loop. Promoting their positive experience on your Instagram provides the customer with “social proof” that their opinion matters. They also receive a nice gesture on your part by being highlighted to your community. You’re essentially “publicizing” their remarks to your current and potential customers, which is super cool in today’s digital age.

When other customers see that your restaurant reposts favorable reviews and feedback, it encourages other customers to post their positive feedback in the hopes that you share their experience with your community. Thus, the more you share and repost your restaurant reviews on social media, the more others will feel inclined to share their positive experiences, and the better it is for your business.

Boost your ratings

But what if you have a lot of reviews, though not all of them are positive? What if a lot of negative reviews are dragging your online restaurant review profile presence? Fear not, as there are a few easy actions you can take to help gain more favorable reviews:

1) Learn from the bad reviews

There’s a lot you can learn from negative reviews, so embrace them for what they are: Chances to improve your restaurant experience! Listening to your customers’ bad reviews will highlight the areas of your restaurant operation that could use a little TLC. So rather than get defensive, accept your bad reviews with open arms and know that by addressing your customer’s complaints, you’re setting yourself up for future positive reviews, both in the short and long term.

Most people only want to be acknowledged, so the first step to reversing bad reviews is to apologize for the poor experience.

2) Regularly monitor your review sites and mentions

You can’t promote what you don’t see, and what you don’t see, you miss. That’s why you should turn up the alerts and notifications across all of your restaurant review sites so that no review—positive or negative—slips through the cracks.

You should get in the habit of responding to all reviews, regardless of whether they’re positive or negative. Doing so will make the process of responding second nature, and you’ll gradually witness a boost in your overall restaurant ratings.

3) Ask for more reviews

Another common tactic restaurants use to gain more favorable reviews is to ask for them. Instruct your servers to ask customers to review their meal online at checkout or offer a link on their receipt, which is a great way to boost your positive reviews.

Make reviewing your restaurant easy

People like things that come easily, and the process for writing a review of your restaurant is no different. Eliminating all friction points so that your restaurant reviewing experience is seamless will help you bring in more positive reviews simply because the steps to write a review are minimal and easy to follow.

The following suggestions are some of the best ways to enhance and simplify the review process for your restaurant:

  • Account variance: Make sure your restaurant has accounts and business profiles on all major food review platforms such as Yelp, Facebook, Google, Google Maps, TripAdvisor, OpenTable, and Zomato. Having accounts with all customer review platforms will help you stay on top of your customer experience, making it easier for a wider range of potential customers to review your establishment and bestow you with a 5-star rating.
  • Mobile accessibility: If your review platforms are compatible with both iOS and Android, it will help ensure your review abilities are being marketed to the broadest demographic possible. Whether your customers use a mobile device or personal computer to access their search engines of choice, being able to Google search for your restaurant and provide a Google review of their dining experience will amplify your business’s online presence.
  • Unique publicity: Some say no publicity is bad publicity, so if you subscribe to that ideology, consider opening up your restaurant to food critics in a big way. Tell food critics and potential customers to “Google my business.” If you’re a new restaurant or new to the restaurant industry, contact the publishers of the local business “best restaurants” lists and advocate for a place in the rankings. Whether you’re a New York-based pizzeria or a California taco truck, having notoriety in the restaurant business will help your restaurant’s visibility, which ultimately makes reviewing your restaurant easier.

Secure small business insurance for restaurant services with Huckleberry

As your restaurant increases the volume of its positive reviews, so too will it grow in popularity. An increase in popularity means an increase in risk since you’ll now be serving a larger volume of customers. One of the best ways to protect your restaurant from unplanned risk and unplanned events is by securing restaurant business insurance, which you can easily do through Huckleberry.

In just 5 minutes or less, you can get a quote on anything from workers' compensation insurance to restaurant insurance and everything in between. Check out Huckleberry today for all of your small business insurance needs.

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