So we did some homework. Here are Google scores for some of their London outlets:
Only two of these eight restaurants pass the Google filter - and some of the rich snippets of those six that fail are truly damaging.
Now the questions we are asking ourselves are:
- Do Comptoir Libanais realise the power of reviews - to attract and to deflect custom?
- Do they understand that a score of less than 4.7 by definition contains reviews that may put diners off?
- Do they understand Google's Filters?
- What action should they be taking?
Their accounts don't specify either covers or footfall. But if we (very) conservatively assume a hundred covers a day - if we simply take their group turnover at £21.5m and divide that by the number of restaurants (22) and the average spend (£14) it gives a footfall north of 190 - and then assume just one in twenty of those smart-phone wielding customers is somehow encouraged to write a review, that gives figures of:
35 reviews a week per outlet - or 1820 reviews a year
It gets better:
If a restaurant is passive it gets proportionately far more negative reviews - Cornell University estimate by a factor of up to fifteen times. This means that by being proactive a restaurant will improve the proportion of positive reviews it receives - so their scores will improve, hopefully to a position where none fail the filter (number 6 will have to put in extra effort!).
What does your restaurant aspire to?
- Great customer service?
- A high percentage of repeat custom?
- 21st century marketing?
1. Harvesting email addresses - from as many customers as possible
"And while I'm taking your card - how many of you would like to register your email?"
Don't say 'We're busy enough without...' - all it takes is a card and a pencil. The cards will cost you pence a day - and you will be pleasantly surprised how many customers complete them. The advantage of using cards is that you can save them and upload the details when the restaurant is not busy. If you like you can increase response by incentivising your staff (a reward for every hundred email addresses collected?).
A big bonus is that you will soon have a massive mailing list for all your other marketing.
2. Inviting those customers to write a review - to your own website and to Google
A tiny percentage response will still give you meaningful numbers. Your Google scores should climb by the day. Reviews on your website will always help drive custom, and by inviting them there you will have the added advantage of being able to address errors of fact and misleading comments pre-publication (we call this process Resolution™).
3 . Responding to those reviews
Responses have two effects: they impress potential customers and they make those thinking of writing a negative review pause for just a second before doing so.
Not only will doing the above make you stand right out in any search, it will establish a real bond between you and your customers.
Then your restaurant will be well on the way to looking like this:
You will have noticed that we have chosen to show a Google score here. Why? Because its your establishment's Google score that every prospective diner sees first...
...not TripAdvisor or TopTable, not FourSquare or Zagat.
It's not rocket science - just plain good review management.
- Do restaurants care about reviews? The $64,000 question
- When in Rome - an example of a restaurant getting it right
- A sad story - this restaurant, in central west London, closed recently - why didn't they engage with reviews?
- Not just restaurants - Pubs too
- The Google filter - all you need to know