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Yelp, UrbanSpoon, TripAdvisor, Google, Yahoo: MANAGING YOUR REVIEWS

It’s not just Yelp, there are tons of them!

What did we say yesterday? (Scroll down to know about Yelp helping independent chains take market share from chains.) That the generation of diners today does not really go out of their way to look for a Michelin Guide or a local newspaper when they’re looking for a restaurant to dine at. All they do is open their laptops or smart phones, check out Yelp, and decide which place to go.

And mind you, it’s not just Yelp. There are a host of other sites they can go to—TripAdvisor, Urban Spoon, Serious Eats, Chow.com, Dine.com and many, many more.

Or they simply search at Yahoo, Bing or Google.

Just like what we’ve said in Customers Are Searching Online, Will They Find You?, if a diner craves for, say, an authentic Spanish paella or a mouth-watering cochinillo asado, all he would do is enter the search words “Spanish restaurant in L.A.” and he’d get pages and pages of restaurants that offer Spanish cuisine in Los Angeles.

And here’s the thing: if your diner uses Google or Yahoo, right below every restaurant on their list are reviews written by previous diners of the restaurant—a star rating (5 stars being the highest) and at least 5 user reviews. And that 5 can go to as much as 200 reviews. Meaning, it’s not just Yelp that holds great influence on how restaurants hit their bottom line—it’s every one of those user reviews, including the power that Google and Yahoo has over today’s market.

Just like what we’ve said, there’s really no other way to go around this fact, no matter how debatable it is. If you can’t really lick them, then might as well join them–and just do all you can to manage your reviews.

Strive for perfection

Of course this is easier said than done, and somewhat too impossible to attain, but the attempt itself will prove beneficial. Excellent food, unforgettable service, faultless ambiance, spotless reputation. Your staff, in their smart restaurant uniforms, should make the experience extraordinary; enough to make your diners go out of their way to write good reviews.

You can’t please ‘em all

But then again, no matter how hard you’d try, there would always be someone out there who wouldn’t like what you did. So be ready for those negative reviews –that’s all part of the game—and don’t take it too personally.

Take responsibility

We’ve said this before, and we’ll say it again—an honest response to a negative review and a quick offer to resolve a problem is what will make you stand out from the rest. There’s one restaurateur we know who make it his own personal goal to befriend that troublesome customer—together with his management team in cool restaurant uniforms, they would find ways to convert the customer from one angry diner to a loyal one–and makes it his own personal achievement once he succeeds. That’s one off the list, he’d say.

One Negative, Two Positives

Star ratings are simply about the rule of averages. Got one negative and potentially damaging review? Ask two customers to write two rave reviews. Got another two downright unfair ones? There’s no use sulking and lambasting user reviews for being the unreliable, fallacious assessments that they are–find four happy diners as fast as you can to immediately counter those claims. Got six? Put in twelve. It’s crazy, but that’s basically how it works.

Again, if done properly, these reviews can work well to our advantage. So get on with it, and start managing your reviews.