We live in a world where customers read reviews and view food photos well before they ever step foot into a restaurant or dine at your food truck. That means that for many prospective customers, if you’re online reputation isn’t pristine you probably won’t get their business.
There was recently published article of MarketPlace.org that says negative Yelp reviews could actually be helping to put some restaurants out of business. The punch line of the article is that a restaurant with only two or three stars will be 14% more likely to go out of business in the event of minimum wage hikes. Restaurants on the other end of the spectrum and receiving mostly four or five star reviews, you are not likely to be impacted by wage increases. Although this article didn’t reference mobile food businesses specifically, it’s easy to see how food trucks could be impacted in a similar way by wages or reviews.
The thought process behind this report is that lower ranked restaurants are less profitable and operating on the edge already. Anything that increases the restaurants costs, like an increase in wages could put them out of business. You can listen to the full story below:
What Can You Even Do About Yelp Reviews?
Even if you are a concession vendor with a stellar online reputation, monitoring your reviews on popular review sites like Yelp.com, Facebook, or Google is a smart idea. Even if you don’t have any negative reviews at the moment, one bad customer experience or misunderstanding could completely change that. The goal of this article is to provide you with some concrete action steps you can take to improve your reviews online.
But before you can take action to improve something, you need to know what your working with. We recommend checking online reviews monthly and building this process into your regular routine. Most months, you will likely discover that you don’t need to do much assuming your business already receives mostly positive reviews.
- Encourage Feedback: If you’ve been operating successfully a few years, you’ve probably formed relationships with your customers. Maybe you have some regulars that you see every week or every couple of weeks that you know by name and continue to return to your business. If the opportunity presents itself, mention that you would appreciate if they shared their opinion of your restaurant online and how their feedback can really help your business. Most customers that you’ve built a rapport with will be more than happy to help you out. According to this article 70% of customers will leave a review when asked making this a very effective way to generate more reviews.
- Make Providing an Online Review Easier: Believe it or not, most of your customers will not be publishing reviews of your food online even if they had the best experience ever. While a lot of individuals like to read reviews, many people don’t think to leave their own. Part of the reason is that there can be technology challenges. Some of your customers may not know how to log into Yelp and then find out how to leave a review. A website called Grade.us can make it easier for your customers to leave reviews online. Another benefit using Grade.us is that it can help you filter out negative reviews by having any negative feedback emailed to you instead of published online for the world to see.
- Be Consistent With Responses: It’s natural to want to have a slight freak out when you see a bad review. It’s also normal for a lot of business owners to focus on and respond only to negative reviews. If you do decide to respond to reviews directly, make sure you respond to both negative and positive reviews of your food. This will demonstrate that you value everyone’s opinions and make the negative ones stand out less.
- Take control of your profiles: While you can’t control reviews on your website there are a lot of things you can control on websites like Yelp.com and others. Typically the owner of the restaurant can upload their own food photos, make sure the telephone number and hours of operate are all accurate. While these updates don’t impact the reviews, they will help improve the overall perception to prospective customers.
In conclusion, it’s important to remember that a single bad review isn’t the end of the world. An occasional poor or average review will happen to even the best rated restaurants in your city. If you are already a restaurant or food truck that receives positive reviews on a regular basis continue providing excellent food and service to your customer base.