Learn how to fill your restaurant by soliciting and broadcasting positive reviews

Until recently, people would only know about a restaurant if it was local to them, or they’d heard about it by word-of-mouth.

But now with the internet, TripAdvisor, Google Local, social media and more – reviews are more important than ever.

People trust review sites. Glowing reviews online will get people streaming through your door from miles around. And although negative reviews might harm your restaurant – we’ll show you how you can turn them around.

But how do you get your happy customers to write reviews for you on these sites?

And how can you make the most of these reviews, to fill your restaurant?

How to solicit more reviews

Don’t be afraid of asking customers to review your restaurant. Most of the time they’ll be glad to, provided that they’ve enjoyed themselves.

  1. Ask happy customers to review your restaurant, just before leaving. Train your staff to ask this question after customers have paid the bill – if they’re happy.

  2. Put together a small business card with the review site links to make it easier for customers.The easier you make it, the more positive reviews will come in.

  3. Offer people a discount on their next meal if they leave a good review. This tactic has worked well for the tech industry and the app makers such as Dropbox. By giving people a freebie for reviewing, they have an incentive to do leave good feedback.

  4. Serve exceptional food – this goes without saying.

  5. Fix mistakes before people leave – again this goes without saying. But if somebody messed up – it’s important to fix it rather than run the risk of a bad review. Unhappy customers that aren’t attended to, are likely to go out of their way to leave bad publicity.

How to use those reviews to get even more people in

The techniques above should help you get more reviews. But how do you make the most of them?

Here’s an example of a Trip Advisor review from Ogino in Beverley  – and how it could be used. [See the photoshoot that we did for Ogino here]

Food photography in Yorkshire

You can post the reviews as status updates on social media. If you can condense them into a Tweet or Facebook post – people will love it and believe it. You could tweet this:

“The food here is fantastic. The atmosphere is exactly what you might expect in an authentic Japanese restaurant.” said Niks099 from Beverley. Why not see for yourself this weekend?

It’s what marketing people nowadays call “social proof”. And it works because it’s the words of a real person and it’s truthful.

Likewise if you have a leaflet, flyer, or takeaway menu that you send out to customers – why not put the good reviews on your written materials?

If people are getting tons of adverts for other restaurants, takeaways and food delivery services  through their door – it will make people think “wow! I must go here sometime”.

Dealing with negative reviews

Inevitably you’ll have that fussy diner who is impossible to please. They might leave a negative review.

It’s best to nip problems in the bud. If something’s wrong with a customer, let your staff offer them a discount on the bill or perhaps a free desert.

But sometimes, you won’t be able to please someone and they’ll leave negative feedback. However, don’t fear. Trip Advisor and many of the other listings sites let you offer management responses.

This gives you a chance to apologise and offer to put things right. It also significantly helps your reputation. 77% of Trip Advisor customers agreed that a management response to a bad review shows that a hotel cares about its guests.

Last few tips

Reviews give people confidence in your restaurant. And if you can amplify the reviews by putting them on all of your marketing  – you’ll get more people through the door.

Alongside your reviews, what usually helps is spectacular photography. It gets your leaflet to stand out on the doormat. It sets your food apart from everything else nearby.

The battle for customers starts long before they walk through a restaurant door. And you have to give yourself every chance to win their custom.

Bakehouse specialise in spectacular Food Photography in Yorkshire. We can give your restaurant the competitive edge with great photography that’s every bit as satisfying as your menu. It’s so powerful and visual that it’s sure to pay for itself in no time too.

Call Ben on 01482 420501 or email him on ben@bakehousestudio.co.uk to see how great photography can help fill your establishment.