How Restaurants Can Get More Online Reviews

The business type most likely to be rated and reviewed online is restaurants. We look at why, how, and the best ways to get more positive online reviews.

Unless you're Jean-Georges himself, you probably could more customers coming in the doors.

The restaurant business is one of the most competitive industries there is, and if you own or manage a restaurant, you already know that.

While slashing your prices or revamping your menu might attract new customers, it may also tank your business altogether.

There's a better way of improving your bottom line, one that doesn't require you to change a single thing about how you cook and serve your food. It involves capitalizing on the things you already do well and using your current customers to attract new customers.

The solution? (and this shouldn't come as a surprise): online reviews. Yes, we know - they're often only a few cheap ego boosts and a ton of headaches, but it doesn't have to be that way...

Why Reviews Matter for Restaurants

In case you've been living under a rock for the past decade then you already know: most adults read online reviews (at least occasionally). More likely than not, you read them yourself.

Reading reviews has become increasingly popular in recent years, with 91 of American consumers consulting reviews sites either regularly or occasionally, according to a recent survey.

But while people may or may not check Yelp before choosing a gas station or grocery store, the businesses they're most likely to research online are restaurants.

In the survey, 60 percent of respondents said they have read reviews for restaurants or cafes. It was far and away the most commonly read category of reviews.

In comparison, only 40 percent of respondents read reviews of the second most popular category on the list (hotels and B&Bs).

But Wait, There's More!

For the average customer, seeing that you have a 4.3 rating on Yelp will be enough to warrant a trip to your restaurant. That's a direct benefit of online reviews. There are indirect benefits too:

  • Search engines rank businesses more highly when they generate a lot of buzz online. Basically, when lots of people write posts about you, Google thinks that you're popular so they boost you in search.
  • Writing online reviews has become an art form. People like to share their posts with friends in their social networks.

So, yeah, reviews matter. Big time.

The bad news? You can't control what people write about you on these sites, and not everyone will be satisfied with your service. That's okay, though: Customers don't expect to see all raves. But you do want mostly positive reviews.

The Good News

Dozens if not hundreds of people walk through your doors or eat your food each day. That means you have a massive pool of possible review writers that you can put to work for you by convincing the ones who like your restaurant to write about it.

Now, how do you get them to actually put fingers to keyboard and tap out that glowing review?

Timing Is Everything

Say a server brings Joe his bill and asks how everything went. Joe says it was great and returns the bill with his credit card. The server says, "We'd love it if you would review us on Yelp!" and leaves to run the card.

Now Joe's sitting at the table with nothing to do but wait. Yeah, it was a little obnoxious of his server to ask for a review, but he was kind of charming, and the food was really tasty...

So Joe pulls out his phone and writes a quick review. Meanwhile, a few other diners do the same thing. But Yelp sees that several people are posting from the same IP address (because they're all connected to the same Wi-Fi network), and Yelp really doesn't like that...

All those reviews from real customers get filtered out so Yelp users don't see them.

A Better Way

The best way to get your customers to review you and not have them filtered out is to...ask.

You can ask in person, but that can be awkward (see the story of Joe above) and most customers either aren't going to remember or aren't going to take the time to find your profile page online and write the review. After all, out of site, out of mind.

Better is to reach out to your customers after they've left. A short, well-worded email or text message goes a long way. You'll be shocked at how many of your customers are happy to write you a review just because you asked and provided them with links to your profile pages on review sites.

But what if you don't have your customer's email addresses or phone numbers? Or what if you do but you want to make sure that only your happy customers are posting online reviews? We're glad you asked...

We built ReputationStacker with you in mind. It finds your happy customers and asks them to post a review on the review sites of your choice.

If you already collect your customer's email addresses or phone numbers then it's incredibly easy to use. But if you don't, we built a feature called Kiosk Mode that makes it easy to collect your customer's contact info on the spot, but doesn't reach out to them until after they've left your restaurant (so as not to trigger the review sites' filters). 

The Final Course

Once you convert hungry diners into happy ones, put them to work attracting more customers to your restaurant. After all, this industry is the one in which online reviews matter most.

With an automated system like ReputationStacker and its restaurant-ready Kiosk Mode, you can remind customers to review you at their leisure, even if you don't have their contact info.


Ian Kirby has been working in digital marketing for over 15 years. Having worked both with and for digital marketing agencies and in-house with multiple companies, he has a specific interest and expertise in online reputation management, online reviews, and the implementation of business systems. Ian’s writing, videos, and interviews have garnered millions of reads, views, and listens.


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