Restaurants: A sad – and perhaps unnecessary – story
A while ago we offered our services to this restaurant (simply because it was one of our staffer’s local hostelry, and he wanted us to help them):
And now, as you can see, it’s closed. Which is sad, because we enjoyed our occasional Friday lunchtime sessions there.
Now, we are far from saying that being a member of HelpHound on its own could have saved Garnier, but let’s look at the facts:
- the food was excellent – everyone agreed on that (even the few – including some HelpHounders – who bothered to write a review on Google)
- the staff had that great balance between ‘welcoming and professional’ and ‘over-friendly’ – and they knew the menu backwards
- the room was great – it actually had space between the tables, unusual for central south-west London these days
- the location was not ‘prime prime’, but it was right on the junction of the Old Brompton Road and the Earl’s Court Road – and there are half-a-dozen restaurants within a hundred yards
What should they have done (and what should every other restaurant do)?
- Collect as many guest email addresses as possible. How? Simple – when you present the bill, give each guest a card and a pencil and ask them to fill in their email – no pressure, but a mention that the restaurant likes to keep regular diners up-to-date with speacial events never goes amiss. For every hundred covers you should be looking at collecting forty emails.
- Email each guest inviting them to write a review to the restaurant‘s own website, where any issues can be addressed pre-publication by the restaurant’s management. Reviews on the restaurant‘s own website will qualify it for a star rating in organic search and a link under ‘Reviews from the web’.
- Ask those who have posted a review to copy that to Google.
Let’s look at the numbers per annum (working per 100 covers/day):
- 35,000 covers – of which 25% provide an email address* – gives…
- 8,750 email addresses – of which 10% write a review to the restaurant’s website – gives…
- 875 reviews – of which one in five go on to copy their review to Google – gives
- 175 Google reviews
On top of that – the restaurant has garnered (no pun…) many thousands of contacts for its other marketing.
*Harvesting email addresses: all that is needed is a card and a pencil – and a dose of charm. It works.
It doesn’t stop there…
The restaurant – or its agents – should respond to those reviews, all of them. Why? First because it sends a very positive message to potential customers: if the restaurant cares about its online image then perhaps it cares about the quality of its food and customer service. Second, because responding to reviews keeps reviewers honest – it makes it much less likely that rogue reviewers will exaggerate any negative experiences that may have had.
Look at this review (of another restaurant):
And then this one:
Both of these reviews have the ring of truth about them. But doesn’t the first one – lacking a response from the business – reduce the likelihood that you‘re going to choose the restaurant for your next outing?
Point made? There’s one more piece of advice: take reviews that criticise service much more seriously than those that criticise food. The late lamented A A Gill, when writing his Christmas ‘review of reviews’ a few years ago, stressed that he would be much more likely to forgive erratic cuisine if service was top-rate.
Can HelpHound help?
Besides giving you the mechanism to invite and display reviews, HelpHound also incorporates an optional response service: Feedback Manager. So, if you are too busy, or lack the capacity to respond to reviews, we are here to help.