Intro to Online Reputation Management

Do you know what people are saying about your restaurant? Your guests have a wide variety of ways to get the skinny on your food and service.  In fact, one survey[1] shows that 85% of customers consider online reviews when choosing local businesses. It’s essential for restaurant owners to understand how the Internet’s many review sites can affect their bottom line. It may sound intimidating, but you need to know the basics.

Online reviews can make or break a restaurant.  A study showed that a single bad review on Yelp can lead to a 13% drop in sales.[2] That’s major money lost because of one person’s bad experience! But how can you keep up with your website’s reviews?   Here’s how restaurant operators need to approach critical reviews:

First, focus on checking the big review websites – Yelp, OpenTable, Trip Advisor – as part of your daily routine, then regularly Google your restaurant to check if any bad reviews slipped past your notice.  If you don’t have time to do this, technology can help you stay on top of it.


Secondly, respond to negative views in a timely fashion.  You should respond to every negative review. Although review sites generally do not allow you to remove negative commentary, you can better counteract it by responding in such a way that demonstrates you take the criticism seriously.  Reviewers occasionally change their rating to something more positive when they receive a response.


Finally, increase and leverage your positive reviews by replying to some of those as well. One study [3]showed that 84% of customers have a better impression of companies that appear to listen to their customers and find out more about their needs. Occasional replies to positive reviews can help you establish an ongoing relationship with your guests.


Other social spaces like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and Instagram can also be ripe with chatter about your restaurant. We’ll talk in more detail about these social sites in future posts.


[1] BrightLocal, “Local Consumer Review Survey” (2013)

[2] Harvard Business Review, “Reviews, Reputation, and Revenue: The Case of Yelp.com” (2010)

[3] Alterian, “Your Brand: At Risk or Ready for Growth?” (2012)

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