Restaurants need to come out of the Dark Ages

One of the most common phrases to come out of a Chef’s or Restaurant Owner’s mouth, is “I don’t have time!”

Let’s totally forget social media and social media marketing for a moment. Let’s just address review sites.

Yelp, Tripadvisor and Urban Spoon gets thousands of people monthly looking at localized results and reviews for restaurants.

That’s localized; the number that search monthly all over the world, is at least in the millions. This does not even take into consideration all the hundreds of small review sites out there, as well as public comments on blogs or news articles online.

While the younger generation is slowly making headway onto the restaurant playing field, there are still many thousands of restaurateurs who think that having a website is enough, or they don’t need to pay attention to the internet, and don’t need to have a presence online or monitor it even.

In my 20 years cooking, I worked for multiple old school Chefs, and I meet them still often. A computer? “I don’t need to learn how to use a computer, or email, or the internet.” I don’t care about it” “I don’t want to have to learn it” “I don’t have time to learn it” “It doesn’t matter to me or my restaurant.” Ouch!

Even some of the younger generation that don’t have the excuse that they don’t want to or can’t learn it, use the claim, “I don’t have time.”

Make Time!

There have been multiple articles written in the last couple of years, giving great examples of why restaurants should be monitoring their brands online. One would think restaurants would get the hint, but apparently there are still numerous cases out there where they are not paying attention to this. While this seems kind of like beating a dead horse, apparently the horse has not yet gone to horse heaven and still needs to be addressed.

A recent example is the case of “Chef Damian Cardone Brags About Feeding Gluten-free Patrons High Gluten Pasta“. The restaurant in question (Florindo’s) does not have a website, so when their name is Googled, the very first things that come up are review sites, of which at the moment there are multiple posts about the Gluten Free fiasco posted on them, as well as it being mentioned on dozens and dozens of Celiac and Gluten Free related blogs.

A direct quote from the Chef, “ I do not have time to be on the Internet, so I have no way to answer back to these people,” is a perfect example of a restaurateur that doesn’t want to be bothered with taking care of what’s being said online about his restaurant. I hope he changes his mind about this soon. Right at the moment all the reviews being posted and unaddressed online are damaging Florindo’s brand,

Google is forever and Google doesn’t forget.

A quick troll through Yelp postings and Tripadvisor postings provide a wealth of other reviews of restaurants across the country, that at a guess, many restaurants know nothing about. I base this on the fact that if I were the owner of a restaurant and read some of the reviews that were posted about my food, my service, my prices or that a patron claimed they saw rats in the bathroom, I would want to respond!

I would ask this of Chefs and Owners who don’t think they need to pay attention to their brand online:

When the number of covers you do starts to drop because of online reviews, how are you going to retain customers and make your overhead? People who write unhappy reviews on review sites, whether warranted or unwarranted, are certainly not going to come back to your restaurant to TELL you they wrote a review.

If something was said that was reputation busting, or a potential for a lawsuit being posted online, wouldn’t you rather know about it ASAP? Or would you prefer to get served court papers or have your restaurant go under?

While that may be a harsh example, restaurant owners and Chefs need to step up to the plate and at least monitor their brand. Restaurants need to take the hint that even if they don’t want to have a presence online or participate in social media, they do need to be aware of what people are saying about them online and address it.

It can be the difference between being successful or going out of business, and it can have nothing to do with how great your food is or how fantastic your service is. Monitor, Monitor, Monitor.

Some tips on monitoring review sites and other online postings.

  • Both Tripadvisor and Yelp let you sign up for a business verified listing, this also gives you the ability to respond to comments as well as getting notified via email when a new review is posted.
  • Yelp: https://biz.yelp.com/support
  • Tripadvisor: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Owners
  • Sites that don’t have owners support area do generally let you respond in comments to comments, this goes for blogs and forums as well.
  • Sign up for Google alerts: http://www.google.com/alerts
  • Google (and Bing) your name, your Chef’s name and your business name at least every couple of weeks. While you can set up multiple Google alerts, it doesn’t pick up everything. Putting names in quotes, “Chef Thomas Kiltern” retrieves more accurate results.
  • Have a plan in place for what to do when someone leaves a bad review, as well as having an emergency back up plan in place if its something that goes viral all over the internet for how to deal with it and how to respond.

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This entry was posted in Food Stories, Hospitality News, How tos, marketing, Observations, Restauranting, Reviews and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Restaurants need to come out of the Dark Ages

  1. Ken Burgin says:

    It’s a big shift for most operators, from ‘throw money at it’ marketing to having to commit their other scarce resource – time!

    When I see the eye-rolling start, I sometimes ask ‘so how do you allocate time to marketing now?’ There’s usually agreement that far too little has been done for a long time…

    Ken

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