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.


Bringing Business Back: Six Customer Rewards that Really Work

05 Sep, 2015 | Tags: , , , , , ,

Customer loyalty is about more than just retention. You want to encourage your customers to spend more money in your stores, and purchase the type of products that will keep them coming back. There are several ways to increase customer loyalty, and following these tried and true methods, you can improve your bottom line and make a casual customer more loyal to your company brand.

The Points System


A points system is simple, and is used effectively around the world because it actually works. Customers are able to receive points when they purchase certain items, which allows you to better manage your inventory. Rather than discounting items, you can double or triple the points first to see if that helps you sell inventory. Customers can later get rewards in the form of cash-back, free items, or a percentage off the total when a certain number of points have been reached. It’s often a win-win situation for both you and the customer.


Get a Partnership

Work with local stores and offer combined discounts that can be used at more than one location. For example, if customers spend more than $100 at your store, they may be able to get discounts at other stores or sites like Discountrue.com when they offer coupons for kohls.com. Partnering with a name-brand store may help you increase your brand awareness and encourage shoppers to frequent your store.

VIP Benefit Programs

Start a base-level points program, and offer a VIP program with additional rewards for people who purchase a membership. Purchasing a membership by itself will encourage them to come back and use their card more often. Since they have already paid the dues, they will be more inclined to shop at your store to receive those extra benefits.


Non-Monetary Rewards

Some industries do better offering additional services or giving a donation to a local charity than with a money-based reward system. If you boast an environmentally friendly store, customers may feel better about your company if they know that a percentage of all proceeds go to help rainforest preservation, or a local children’s charity. Figure out what your customers want, and design rewards programs that reinforce what your customers value.

Create Weekly Contests or Drawings

A weekly contest or drawing can help bring more customers into your store. Offer smaller prizes and reward several prizes, so they will have a better chance of winning the contest or drawing. These sorts of games can be fun for employees and shoppers, and the odds of winning go up the more they shop.

Forget the Rewards Program

Build rewards into the shopping experience. When customers purchase goods worth a certain value, give them a discount. Give them rewards just for being customers, and don’t require any sort of membership or loyalty program to take part. First-time shoppers will come back because they will be surprised they received a free gift with their purchase.

No single rewards program will work for every industry. It’s up to you to think about the type of customer you’re getting, and find a way to increase their loyalty. Try a few different programs, or ask for your customers’ input to find the best system for your type of business.


Why Every Restaurant Needs to Use Scheduling Software

06 Aug, 2015 | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

It’s pretty easy to see that communication is a necessity to any thriving business.  In today’s economy, it’s paramount to have a step-up in your communication whenever possible. The restaurant business can be brutal at times, with small margins and long hours, not to mention all the variables that can quickly turn a successful start to a day into an understaffed nightmare!  Keeping a large crowd waiting too long at the hostess station and you may have just lost potential customers forever.  Between understaffed waiters/waitresses, tables that need to be cleared, food orders getting cold, and special customer requests, many times managers and their employees alike can quickly feel the stress of the situation, and that’s not good for anyone!  That’s where innovative technology comes into play.

Share the Load

Using staff scheduling software can lighten a manager’s load considerably by

  • allowing managers to have the ability to create their schedules from home, if they choose, instead of in the midst of all the commotion in their backroom
  • managers no longer need to cater to all those interruptions from employees asking when they are scheduled to work next
  • they won’t be inundated with scraps of paper with handwritten notes trying to decipher when their employee is requesting some time off
  • since now the employee is responsible for adding their own requests directly into the system, if you try to schedule this employee during an unavailable time, a pop-up will remind you about their request
  • when it’s time to schedule that team meeting, it takes the guesswork and out of wondering if you’ve contacted everyone because now, it’s only a button click away

Think of all the time you’ll save by not having to rewrite a schedule over and over again! 

Employee Approved

Your employees will love using the online employee schedule system too!  They’ll be able to

  • access their schedule via smartphone, or simply check online; no more time wondering when the schedule is completed, or having to run back up to the restaurant to check the board
  • input their own requests for time off, eliminating potential disagreements or friction; no more keeping your fingers crossed in hopes that your manager remembers your request
  • receive reminders for when you’re scheduled to work; no more awkward feelings, wondering if you should call work to find out, or just show up and hope you were scheduled   

The Bar

Another important area of a restaurant that cannot be overemphasized is the bar. If a bartender doesn’t show up due to a lack of communication this can cause a potential great loss in revenue to everyone involved. Using a streamlined bar scheduling software can open up lines of communication and increase a restaurants profits substantially by

  • having each bartender’s hours specifically laid out in such a way that meets everyone’s needs; bars typically open during later hours, and bartenders are typically balancing many schedules throughout their day
  • bartender’s having the ability to put in requests from their smartphone or computer saving them time, and better organizing their daily schedule which expands communication
  • increasing profit margins by keeping the bar open on time and keeping those drinks filled; generating greater profits for everyone
  • keeping the highest profit margin available means that employee hours don’t get cut; everyone in the restaurant can be affected by this    

Now, everything goes directly into the system, all in one, easy to use place!

The folks at WhatTimeDoIWork.comhave made a huge impact to help you save time, improve even the best communication, all while saving you money.  This new innovative scheduling software didn’t happen overnight.  It was developed by experts with over thirty years of scheduling experience who took the time to sit down and listen to what managers and their employees both needed and wanted to become more successful.  Taking all their data into consideration, this team has developed a polished system where everything transpires in one place and can be accessed any time, day or night, from any place in the world.  They have produced the gift of giving you less stress and making life easier, while at the same time allowing you more time to work on those other important tasks for your business, you know, the ones listed under all those other papers that you can now throw away!


How to Survive Bad Press Like a Pro

19 Jun, 2015 | Tags: , , , , , ,

We are living in the age of the Internet: where all types of communication and attitudes are welcome, bad news actually does travel faster than the speed of light, and everyone waits in the shadows for an opportunity to hop on a good (or bad) story. You know you’ve seen it before; the little business down some street you’ve never heard of is suddenly the talk of the entire Internet. Everyone starts ganging up on the business sharing the story via Facebook and Twitter with posts encouraging everyone to stop being a patron. Then after you’ve seen the story show up in your feed for the third time in an hour, you decide to read the story, and you realize the way the business handled a situation was cringe worthy.

Let’s be honest, in the age of Internet, sometimes you won’t be able to stop some bad press from happening. There’s always going to be the outraged man who’s water wasn’t cold enough who fumed in your Yelp reviews. And don’t be too upset with the woman who keeps tagging your business on Facebook with hate posts, because truth be told, you probably won’t be able to make her happy. If you recall when Facebook would change their layouts, you would think a violent revolution was brewing based on the angry posts on your timeline. The internet makes it easy for people to indulge in anger, but eventually it all blows over. So here are some rules for dealing with bad press, and how to do it like a pro so that you can survive it and come out stronger in the process.

Don’t Bring Fuel To The Fire Fight

One thing you should always remember about the internet: there is always a user somewhere that will “out-insult” you, and wherever you are, once you bring your best fight, that user will come out of the shadows and find you. Bad press happens. As a business owner, NEVER turn to your caps lock or profanity. The only way all caps are acceptable are when driving the point home to never reply to a customer IN ALL CAPS. Keep your cool, which leads us to our second rule.

Pick Your Battles Carefully

While you’re remaining cool, calm, and collected, still choose your battles wisely. The barrage of commenters will likely not back down, even if you are using legitimate arguments for reasons your business is being portrayed in an ugly light. Do spend time if necessary commenting on the situation, but don’t feel like you need to get into a comment battle with every individual with an opinion. Another option in these situations is to hire an outside PR agency to handle communication.

Sometimes It’s Best Not To Say Anything

No one is forcing you to say anything at all, and sometimes you may find the odds are in your favor if you’re silent anyway. Again, the users of the Internet will comment until they’re blue in the face whether or not you’re an active participant. Standing in the shadows quietly until the waters have calmed is never a bad idea.

Your Silence Is A Good Time To Listen

If you do choose silence as a strategy, this is a good time for you to listen to your customers. Don’t try to read every comment on the Internet, but do try to seek out your customers and listen to ways their experience with your business could be made better. At this step, your job is not to try and fix your bad press, or to make the press go away. Your job is to just listen.

Find Opportunities To Grow

After the bad press starts to calm down, you’ve carefully chosen which battles to engage, and you’ve spent time listening to your customers, take this as an opportunity to come on the other side of this bad press as a better business owner. Take everything you learned during your time in front of the bad press spotlight to come back as a stronger business and business owner. Be honest about what took place, how you handled the event, and lastly what you’re doing to be a better business. Your customers will appreciate your honesty, and the Internet commenters will slither back into their shadows and await their next victim.

If you have any stories, experiences you can share, feel free to leave them in the comments!


Why should you pick WhatTimeDoIWork.com Online Employee Scheduling Software?

10 Feb, 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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The first step to success is to stop working in your business and start working on your business. You have probably spent far too many hours creating and updating your weekly schedules, and yet, do you have a full grasp on the amount of overtime wages you have needlessly paid? This is the ideal time to start looking for scheduling support. There are many different options available today and you should put some serious thought and consideration into what exactly you are looking for. In this 3 part series we will extensively review the scheduling software options available.

The simplest solution would be using an Excel spreadsheet instead of pen and paper. This will make a clean scheduling template, but it really doesn’t save you a lot of time. What you really need is a program developed by expert schedulers that has been designed to save you both time and money. While it may sound counterintuitive to pay for scheduling software to make money, the money and time you will save will far outweigh the cost of the software.

The first decision to make regards the the type of program you would like to use. Traditional software that you purchase once and is housed on a single computer, or an online software that does not require downloading, and you receive automatic updates without having to download any additional information. Not to mention that you can pay as you go, and you will have all of your information saved in the cloud so it can be accessed from anywhere, at any time, not just from your office. Online scheduling software offers the additional ability for your employees to have access to their schedules from home.

With online software your employees can enter time off requests, view the schedule, fill open shifts, and even swap shifts with other employees. You can also communicate a new schedule, an updated schedule or an open shift to your full staff (or select employees) with just one click of the button. Just think of all the extra time you will have to devote to other aspects of your business.

In our next edition, we will be examining some of the features you should be looking for in online scheduling software. If scheduling, employee requests, and time management have become a problem for you and your business, try What Time Do I Work.com online staff scheduling, and store all of your employees’ scheduling and contact information on the cloud for your access from anywhere at any time. Try it risk free for 30 days!