These days, guest perception is your reality. Online restaurant reviews play a significant role in your marketing plan, whether you want them to or not. Here are some key findings from a recent BrightLocal consumer survey.

  • 97% of consumers looked online for local businesses, with 12% looking for a local business online every day.
  • 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
  • 49% of consumers need at least a four-star rating before they choose to use a business.
  • 68% of US consumers said that positive reviews made them more likely to use a business.
  • Reading negative reviews makes 40% of consumers not want to use a local business.

How to Use Online Restaurant Reviews as a Competitive Advantage

Competition is good for you, and reviews can be, too. Follow these tips to make online reviews work for you instead of against you:

  • Stack the deck in your favor. A restaurant that increases its rating on a review site by just one star will see an increase in traffic. So how do you get more positive reviews? Ask for them. Encourage loyal guests to post reviews and share those positive reviews on your social media channels. Showing your gratitude for guests who post reviews will encourage others to do the same.
  • Respond to negative reviews. You can’t control what an unhappy customer will say about you in a review, but you can control your response. Respond to negative reviews with an apology, but don’t engage in an argument. People reading the reviews want to see you say something like “I’m sorry to hear about your experience, please contact me directly so we can make it right.” Bickering back and forth with an unhappy guest won’t earn you points with anyone.
  • Monitor your competitors’ reviews. You can gain a lot of insight from reading what guests have to say about your competition. You might learn about new menu items, happy hour specials, or loyalty strategies. It may be obvious that your biggest competitor is out-performing you on service, or you might learn exactly what they’re doing to make guests look for other options. Either way, you can use the information you gather from review sites to give yourself a competitive advantage.

Give Guests Something Good to Talk About

Delivering exceptional service throughout the guest experiences will give guests reasons to post positive restaurant reviews about you. Our restaurant service training follows the Service That Sells! Cycle of Service, breaking down a guest’s visit into separate steps from the moment guests pull into the parking lot until that final moment when they walk out the door. Click here to learn more.