Bad publicity can be good for a celebrity, but not for a restaurant business.
Read these comments:
“Why do people come here?”
“The food wasn’t anything to write home about”
“The food sucks, and the employees are treated like crap”
Pray tell me, would you come here on your date night or would you go somewhere else? I think we both know the answer. As of this writing, you can see these comments online for a restaurant that pops up as #2 in Google for Buffalo, NY.
Or how about this restaurant in Manhattan Beach, CA (came up as #3 in Google for me):
“Experience, not so good. The wine was excellent. The food, not so much. The sauce on the pasta was bland, & watered down. Canned sauce from the grocery would have had more flavor. Maybe because we came early evening and their sauce was not done yet? Don’t know. The scallops were over-cooked but still good as they were fresh. Service was NOT first class at all, not even 2nd class. This is the first restaurant that was Zaggat rated that I found was not deserving. It was a waste of time & money. Very disappointed as this is a very pretty setting.”
If a friend from out of town was visiting, would you pick this restaurant?
This comment shows up on top of all other reviews and it has been there for over six months! Over all this time, this restaurant’s management could be looking at their sales reports, wondering about their slow sales this summer compared to last year and blaming the economy. The problem, as is usually the case, is right under their noses: It’s their restaurant’s online reputation.
Notice here that I am not scraping the bottom of the barrel. These are some of the most popular restaurants in their cities that have been in business for a long time.
Marketing a restaurant business used to be a relatively simple thing: Create an ad, run it in the paper or give a chunk of cash to the Yellow Pages people, and you’re set. Even your biggest and worst mess ups didn’t usually get known outside of a small circle of people.
And boy what a different world we live in now! Restaurant marketing success today depends not as much on what you say about yourself but rather on what other people say about you.
It doesn’t matter is these comments are based on facts or fiction, if one of your staff happened to have a bad night, or if you had to fire an employee and they are retaliating by smearing your restaurant business online. It’s of no consequence if the customer was irate and unreasonable. All these reviews are there for the entire world to see and judge. As a result, your restaurant business suffers.
With social media and review sites everywhere, the reputation of your restaurant business is under constant scrutiny of literally thousands would-be-guests. Some of them could be strolling down the local street and reading your restaurant reviews on their cell phone while others would be miles and miles away, on their computer, planning their trip to your city.
Restaurant reviews, if not managed properly, can tarnish restaurant reputation online, send would-be-guests away, and hurt restaurant business.