5starreviews-1As the owner or manager of a restaurant or catering business, or any local business, you know that today people shop based on reviews. In fact, 61% of online shoppers say they make purchasing decisions based on reviews.

Yet many restaurants have few online reviews and worse yet, some have prominently seen bad reviews. One highly visible bad review can hurt your business by 20%. It’s crucial that you literally flood the online space with positive reviews, and that you respond immediately to bad reviews to show you care. It’s also crucial that you have recent reviews. I see many businesses that haven’t had a review in a year or more. What does that say about that business?

Good reviews on Google also help you rise up in the search engine rankings. Ideally you’ll want to be in the first 3 Google Maps results for your most relevant search term, since those top 3 results get 80% or so of the search traffic. People also make restaurant decisions by shopping on Yelp or Foursquare too, and using it just like a search engine. We’ve all done this. Recently I was on a road trip and stopped for the evening in St. Simons, GA. I did a Google and Yelp search and ended up in a restaurant that was wonderful. I never would have found it otherwise and my friend and I ended up leaving them an online review because they deserved it.

As a former successful New York restaurateur, I know how hard it is to compete for customers and increase customer loyalty. Testimonials and reviews are a fast track way to do both.

So how can you get a steady stream of reviews without endless time and effort?

  • Train your staff to ask for reviews when customers tell you how happy they are with the meal. Offer a “reward” for anyone who follows through.
  • Turn your written reviews into videos! People are more likely to click on a video than text. Post them to multiple social media sites including Facebook and YouTube.
  • Monitor reviews weekly so you can respond, and also see how many new reviews you’ve received.
  • Join local community pages and groups on social media. Copy and paste your reviews there and publicly thank the person who left the review, no matter where they posted it. This shows that you appreciate your customers.

Want to know how to automate the entire process of capturing reviews and dispersing them to multiple social media sites at the touch of a button? We have an app that does it for you. Give me a call at 919-562-2280 or contact me here.

Please share your experience and tips about getting reviews below.

Janis Pettit is a Marketing Strategist and Customer Acquisition Expert working with local and service based business owners. A former restaurateur, she owned a 3-Star (out of 4) NY Times rated restaurant and catering business in New York, and another in Raleigh NC.