How To Get Online Reviews for Restaurants and More

24 Aug, 2016 | Tags: , , , , , ,

How to Elicit Online Reviews

Because social media is such a significant part of everyday life, online reviews of your business play a large role in how that business is perceived and defined. Entrepreneurs of all types once relied heavily on word-of-mouth, but now most potential customers want to learn about an establishment or company directly from those who have already experienced it; furthermore, they want opinions from a larger number of people, not just one or two folks they might know in real life who can vouch for the business.

Consequently (depending on the size and type of business), a four or five-star rating holds more weight with a business that has a higher number of individual reviews than with one that only has a handful. For this reason, getting your customers to take some time out of their busy lives to leave a review online should be an important part of your business process. It is worth noting that you should encourage customers to be honest in their reviews, so as not to appear discriminating to someone who may have had a bad experience. The best way to overcome a bad review is to counteract it with several good ones.

The following list offers a variety of ways for you to elicit (but not buy) online reviews.

  • Just ask! This may seem too simple or obvious, but customers already know how important online reviews are. When finishing up a transaction, many business owners and their employees ask customers how their experience was that day; if you get a positive answer, follow that up by asking them to take a minute to leave online feedback. You might be surprised by how many people are happy to do so, especially if they are satisfied customers.
  • Aim for big third-party sites, not just the ones relevant to your particular industry. In addition to customer testimonials, go for the bigger sites to help your SEO. TrustLink is a general review site which shows up on Google, so you’ll have plenty of online visibility.
  • Make it easy. It shouldn’t take more than a few seconds for people to navigate from their mobile device or computer where to leave a review, and you’re best bet is to make your business easy to find and rate on several different sites. Place working hyperlinks on your business website to your review profiles (Facebook, Google, Yelp, Angie’s List, etc.). If possible, hand out small cards with your request for a review that includes links or a QR code to scan. Many companies even have this information printed on the bottom of receipts.
  • Keep it simple. Don’t overwhelm your customers with too many places to leave reviews. Guide them to landing pages for sites on which your business may need some extra attention; change this periodically on an as-needed basis. In addition, focus on sites that allow users to login with Facebook or Google because most people will not take the extra time to create a new account just for that review website.
  • Gamify the review process. Who doesn’t love a good contest? While it’s important that you should only be soliciting reviews as opposed to good reviews, an effective way to encourage people to review your business is to turn it into a game, no matter how simple. It could be a weekly or monthly giveaway in which a random reviewer is chosen to receive an exclusive coupon or free sample. By making the review process fun, you will attract more customers to leave feedback.
  • Don’t forget to say “thank you.” If not in person, find unique ways to thank those customers who have left reviews. If on Facebook for example, reply to each review or comment on your page with a brief word of gratitude. Your patrons will be assured that they are appreciated and in turn will create loyal customers. It may even behoove you to ask for feedback on the spot if your business is conducive to that kind of service; just set up an avenue in which a customer can pull out his or her cell phone and leave a quick rating. Provide a sincere thank you before they leave, and perhaps distribute an exclusive coupon or discount code good for a future visit given only to instant reviewers.

Finally, don’t be afraid of negative reviews. It’s always a good idea to provide a place for customers to leave negative feedback privately. Respond professionally, appropriately, and if possible, rectify the situation as quickly as you can.

Online reviews can have a wonderfully positive influence on your business, so continue finding creative and unique ways to elicit them from your customers. You will be able to reach a wider market and grow your business.


Restaurant Ownership: The Longest Standing Business Venture

17 Jun, 2015 | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Restaurants haven’t always had the amenities we enjoy today, but throughout human history, there is one thing that binds us all together.  Long before all the table trivia games, online ordering systems, and even shift scheduling software, humans of all eras were drawn to communal eating experiences that they wouldn’t have to prepare themselves.

The Ancients

The word “thermopolium” is probably not one you’re familiar with nowadays, but in today’s modern world, it’s impossible to walk several blocks without running into one. Today we just call them by their name:  McDonald’s, Subway, Chili’s, and so many more “restaurants” that are available for us to eat somewhere other than our own home. Who want’s to dirty their kitchen if they don’t have to anyway?

People have wanted to keep their own kitchens clean by eating out since as far as ancient Roman times. A thermopolium was to ancient Roman’s what Burger King (with alcohol) is to American’s today. The word thermopolium literally is translated to “a place where (something) hot is sold”. Citizens of Rome would walk to their local thermopolium and eat cheese laced with honey and spices. They would also be able to order lentil soups and mulled wine.

Common Ground

Rather than dealing with the fuss that modern day waiters deal with,  it is believed that these ancient places did not have menus. Instead,  the customers ate whatever the cook had made that day. History also shows that lower class Roman citizens mostly used these fast food options because they didn’t have access to their own private kitchens, and so thermopolia were also known as places where customers could get a little feisty.

A little closer to today’s modern restaurants were the eateries in China circa 1123. Marco Polo wrote about his visit to the city of Hangzhou; home to more than a million people in Eastern China. Unlike the thermopolia in Rome, customers in China were given a menu to order from. Marco Polo wrote of delicacies like silkworm pie, bean curd soup, and pork stuffed dumplings. In the city, Marco Polo talked of many shops and street vendors. The streets lined with many taverns, teashops, rice wine vendors, and tents with chefs and business owners.

Convenience

The world has probably never been without individuals looking to get out of cleaning their own kitchens. As a restaurant owner, you can always take heart in the fact that you’re part of a long line of hard working individuals in the history of restaurant ownership. And even in the modern age of meals in a box, customers still love a delicious warm meal in a sit down restaurant. Who knows? Perhaps restaurant ownership is one of the longest standing entrepreneurial business ventures of all time. And forcing customers to eat whatever the cook prepared is probably one of the least talked about innovations that the Romans created.


How to get new customers through the door and keep them coming back for more

09 Apr, 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

fun at restaurant

Getting new customers through the door is a large feat in itself, but keeping them can be just as challenging. There are many factors that play into the customer experience. We have put together the list of some simple and budget friendly ways to get new customers, and a list of reasons that weighs heavily on their decision to come back.

 

How do I attract new customers?

Getting new customers is the goal of all businesses; you cannot grow by simply maintaining your current customers, you need new customers. Trying a new restaurant is a big gamble for most people in today’s market, as they are very selective on where they spend their hard earned money.

Standout

You need to be known for something, it can be type/ethnicity of food you offer, special promotions or signature dishes.

Be social

 If people don’t know that you are out there, how are they ever going to walk in the door? Social Media is huge in today’s culture, not only can you share images, articles and experiences, but now with “check-ins” friends of your patrons can see that they came to your establishment.

Offer deals

A great way to get new customers to try your bar or restaurants is to offer special deals for new customers, such as a free appetizer or shared dessert.

 

How do I keep customers coming back?

Now that you have new customers coming in the door, let’s look at the flip side of keeping them coming back for more. There are many reason that you could experience slow nights (bad economy, it’s a week night or that there are no special events or holidays) that are out of your control. Here are the top 3 reasons within your control that make customers decide not to return to your bar or restaurant.

 Current Menu

Regularly check your menu to ensure that your pricing is aligned with your target demographic and that you are mixing in enough seasonal/trendy offerings with your signature dishes to keep customers interested and coming back for more.

  Loyalty Programs

 Loyalty programs can be as simple as deals based on the amount of money spent during each visit and/or the number of visits, and offer discounts on future purchases.

 Welcoming Atmosphere

 You guests have come to you not only for food and drink, but an enjoyable time with friends and family. Some of the top areas of importance include clean floors/tables/bar, clean bathrooms and the service that they receive.

 

How do I ensure employee satisfaction?

To ensure your customers will have a great experience, you must have a happy staff providing high quality service. The number one reason for employee dissatisfaction stems from scheduling. Scheduling includes ensuring that you have the right number of staff on for your customer level and ensuring that you fairly allot time-off and/or overtime shifts. What Time Do I Work.com offers easy-to-use and affordable online scheduling software designed to make scheduling a staff of any size a breeze with features like automatic staff communication about schedules, the ability to track and store employee time-off requests and scheduling conflicts and overtime alerts. Try What Time Do I Work.com for yourself today and get the first 30 days free.


Trend of the Month: April 2014

01 Apr, 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Customer Facing Technology growing in popularity within the Food Service Industry

 

technology at the table

According to an October 2013 study by the National Restaurant Association, we are seeing the growth of consumers’ acceptance and use of customer facing technology within the Food Service Industry. According to the study 63% adults use restaurant-related technology to order, make reservations and pay their bill via smart phones. Some restaurants and bars are now going one step further to offer quests tech gadgets at the table to enhance their experience. Chili’s National Restaurant recently ran a 5 month test with table technology for guests to order, pay and play $0.99 games while they wait. The results — 20% increase in sales.

We have already seen some basic recent new technologies for purchasing with credit cards in small businesses. This trend will quickly trickle down to restaurants.

Forecasters from Forbes have put together a list of technologies that they expect to see gaining popularity in restaurants:

  1. Touchscreen kiosks for placing & customizing orders
  2. Mobile ordering applications
  3. Tabletop tablets for ordering and paying
  4. Digital games and entertainment at the table
  5. Mobile apps rewarding customers for loyalty and increasing social media interactions
  6. Mobile-pay apps to pay from a smart phone or tablet
  7. Mobile apps for loyalty/reward programs
  8. Apps for virtual giving and donations – allowing a portion of the guests bill to be donated to charity

As technology based applications quickly become the norm in providing a high level of customer experience in restaurants, we will also see an increase in technology to advance the behind the scenes aspects of your restaurants and bars. There are many options for scheduling employees that offer different benefits, however unless you are using What Time Do I Work.com online scheduling software, you are wasting time and money. What Time Do I Work.com online scheduling software simplifies the scheduling process by storing employee availability, preferences, skills and contact information in the program for easy access when creating schedules. Additionally the software offers real-time labor calculations, automatic overtime and conflict alerts, as well as communication features allowing your employees to own their schedules.

Try our scheduling software free for the next 30 days and see how much time and money you can save!


The Top 3 traits of the Most Successful Bar and Restaurant Managers!

26 Mar, 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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Managers of bars and restaurants have a long laundry list of responsibilities that are integral to the success of their business; the most successful managers excel these 3 areas:

  • Relationship with coworkers
  • Customer service
  • Attention to detail

In this blog article we will review what makes a successful manager.

Your customers’ first impression of your business is when they first step foot into your business. However it is the full experience including the food, service and atmosphere that remains with the customer long after they leave. Managers play a very important role in providing your customers with the best experience.

 

Relationship with employees:

  1. Treat employees with respect and remember to give good feedback – without a dedicated and supporting staff, your manager and business cannot be successful
  2. Give staff clear instructions – managers maintain the consistency in customer experience and clearly instruct employees about processes and policies. If there are changes that your staff is not aware of, customers can get a bad impression of your business
  3. Maintain a high quality staff  –   managers must support and praise the hardest workers, while weeding out the employees that aren’t performing (most importantly a manager should never discipline an employee in front of customers)
  4. Be a leader and set an example – managers must follow the same set of rules and policies as your entire staff without exceptions

 

 Relationship with customers:

  1. Meet and greet – businesses can only improve if they solicit customer feedback and respond immediately to all feedback to ensure that customers feel as though their feedback is valuable
  2. Respect that each customer will have their own opinions – while it might not be true that the customers are always right, managers should look to resolve any situations without argument or insinuating that the customer might be wrong
  3. Ensure that all customers leave happy – word of mouth marketing is very powerful, especially when the feedback isn’t too great, managers must remember this and strive to ensure that no customers leave unhappy

 

Attention to Business:

  1. Attention to detail in all aspects of the business – managers must have an understanding of what is going on in the back and front of house, to set expectations and handle any potential problems before they become a problem
  2. Do not ignore problems – managers should know inventory levels as well as any issues with equipment to ensure that speedy repairs to help provide each customer with the same high level service
  3. Efficiently manage day to day tasks – managers are responsible for all scheduling of their staff, and the pros use online employee scheduling software like What Time Do I Work.com, that records time-off requests and provides automatic alerts for scheduling conflicts and overtime hours to help manage labor costs.

 

Try What Time Do I Work.com today and get your first 30 days free with our no obligation free trial (you don’t even have to enter a credit card to start scheduling).