Long are the days when a restaurant spat stays at the restaurant. Often, when there is a negative experience at a restaurant, a customer might go home to write a strongly-worded Yelp review. Instead of feeling defeated by Yelp reviews, a restaurant owner can use them as a tool to avoid lost sales and even restaurant failure.
Yelp reviews, for better or worse, have become currency for a restaurant trying to thrive and attract new customers. If you’re like most restaurant owners, you have a love-hate relationship with Yelp. But either way, you have to work at it.
Here are some 5 ways you can fix your Yelp reputation.
1- Respond to the Reviews
As an owner, personally responding to negative reviews is likely to provide a solution.
Offer the reviewer your apologies (when necessary) and offer a solution, if there is one to be had. A well-timed discount, refund or simple apology can work wonders.
Is your reviewer just plain wrong? Use a response to clarify any stated policies you have in place. While it is almost never a good idea to play too defensively, you may refer to rules and guidelines that are publicly posted.
An extra step you may take is to offer your information. Whether or not the matter can be resolved on the Yelp forum, consider sharing an email address or phone number where you can discuss the matter privately.
While you should never ask for a reviewer to change the review, you might find that they do anyway. Remember, Yelp is often a sounding board for frustration. If you, as an owner, can assuage that frustration merely by listening, you are bound to make an impact. Even if the reviewer refuses to alter the text, others will see that you are making the effort.
2- Clarify Things About Your Restaurant
Like I said, it is never a good move to get too defensive.
However, if the negative review is owed to a small gripe or a misunderstanding, you may be able to use a personally written Yelp response to clarify your negative review.
For example, if someone gives a 1-star review because you were closed on a holiday Monday, you may clarify that you had signs posted for weeks in advance. If a poster complains about a particularly long wait on a Saturday, you may clarify that reservations are available for busy brunches.
It is important when writing these responses, to frame them as “helpful advice” and not “excuses”. Keep a friendly tone, apologize for the inconvenience and always offer the reviewer another chance for you to make it right,
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3- Learn from Mistakes
Sometimes Yelp reviews are spot on.
If several reviews complain about a specific shift, think about the staff you have working it. Is there enough staff? Do you have a grumpy server working that shift? Are the food platings sloppy? If you are receiving multiple similar complaints, you will want to attack the problem ASAP.
Another common complaint can be facility cleanliness. Just because you earned an A or 100 from your food safety inspector doesn’t mean your place looks clean to your customer.
4- Steer Clear of Online Reputation Management Scams
If there is an influx of potentially fake reviews, contact Yelp.
Bad reviews, like it or not, are part of the ecosystem of the modern restaurant. A restaurant with 1,000 five star reviews is going to look fishy to anyone. A restaurant with 800 five star reviews and a few dozen two or three-star reviews is more trustworthy.
Don’t make the mistake of misleading your future customers by scraping your site clean of any bad reviews
5- Rethink Your Reviews
Like I said in the last section, bad reviews are part of the mix.
Have you ever read a Yelp review so ridiculous that you had to laugh it off? I know I have. Your prospective customers will be able to separate the hysterical reviews from the constructive ones.
Don’t be scared of Yelp! Use it as a very honest tool to face with customers, to resolve potential problems, and to constantly improve the operations in your restaurant.
Check out Upserve’s restaurant marketing strategies guide!