Finally Yelp Allows Restaurateurs to Comment on Negative Reviews

In response to criticism that restaurateurs and other business owners were powerless and frustrated against negative reviews, Yelp has introduced a feature that allows restaurant owners and managers to respond to reviews of their establishments (for both, good or bad).

Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman wrote in a company blog last Thursday:

“Last night we rolled out a highly anticipated feature that allows business owners to publicly comment on their reviews. Already we’ve seen a number of sharp-eyed businesses make good use of this new functionality to provide additional context around specific reviews for the benefit of consumers and yelpers alike.”

The service was created to give business owners a way to answer the criticisms about their businesses in public, instead of the previous system, which required businesses to communicate with users through private messages. The feature is expected to put and end to business owners’ biggest complaint about Yelp: that restaurants and other businesses were almost powerless to respond to negative reviews or unjustified claims.

Business owner comments will be given a more rigorous review than user comments, and Yelp promises to remove any owner-written comments deemed derogatory or attacking their customers.

The company has put up a guide that clarifies what businesses should and should not do with the new system. You can find it here: http://www.yelp.com/business/public_comments

However, before you can use the comment feature, you must claim ownership of your restaurant in Yelp. This process is easy. Just go to www.biz.yelp.com and claim ownership of your restaurant. Then check the reviews about your place and post comments if you see that some of the reviews are unfounded or just malicious. Again, please make sure that you read the guidelines about comments before you post. Try to always be polite and don’t fall into the rathole of starting arguing with your customers. Yelp readers are smart people and they will understand if you had a bad day, but they won’t if you attack personally your former clients.

Good luck and get to it. This is an important opportunity for your restaurant to set things straight.

Jose L Riesco
© Riesco Consulting Inc.
www.twitter.com/jlriesco
http://www.myrestaurantmarketing.com

What Can You Learn from the Disgusting Domino’s Video Posted in YouTube

Just to get an idea of the importance of the Social Media to promote or damage the reputation of a business, we only need to look at this example.

In case that you are not familiar with this news, I will summarize them for you:

Two former employees of Domino’s Pizza (they’ve been fired and now Domino’s Pizza is pressing legal charges against them) posted a nasty video in YouTube showing how one of them, a man, thought to be an employee putting cheese up his nose and then passing wind on a sandwich. A woman’s voice, thought to be the other employee then says off camera:

In about five minutes it’ll be sent out on delivery where somebody will be eating these, yes, eating them, and little did they know that cheese was in his nose and that there was some lethal gas that ended up on their salami.

It looked like the video showed food that was being delivered and consumed by paying customers of Domino’s.

Of course, this video become viral (meaning that they spread very rapidly, just like a virus) very fast, and before Domino’s could react and ask YouTube to remove it (don’t bother to look for this video in YouTube anymore, it is not there), more than a million people had a chance to watch it.

Patrick Doyle, the president of Domino’s USA had the presence of creating an apology video that he distributed in the same way (via YouTube) to restore the image of the Pizza chain. You can watch his apology video here:

So what can you learn from this unfortunately incident? Two things:

1.- How powerful is the power is Social Media to spread news (good and bad) about a place or event.
2.- How important is that you hire the best people you can afford and train them appropriately.

In these days of instantaneous communication is more important than ever to trust and rely in your people to do the right thing.

Disgruntled employees blog against their employers and tarnish the company’s image. Unhappy customers post negative reviews of the restaurants or small business where they had a bad experience…

So what can you do to avoid negative comments against your restaurant? The only possible course of action is to always try to put your clients and employees as your number one priority. Having happy employees transforms into happy customers and great reviews in these sites.

You can’t control what people post in the social networks but you can control how to treat your clients and your employees. Focus your energies on them and you’ll get great reviews.

Jose L Riesco
© Riesco Consulting Inc.
www.twitter.com/jlriesco
http://www.myrestaurantmarketing.com

Taking Control of Your Restaurant Marketing

In these days of doom and gloom I hear many restaurateurs complain about how slow business is and how the clients are spending less and less money dinning out.

However, as the saying says, “Times of crisis are times of opportunity”.

If your business is slow, perhaps this is a great time to re-evaluate the efficacy of your marketing. Eliminate dead wood in your marketing expenses and start investing your money smartly in marketing that really works (and you can prove that really works).

I met recently with the owner of the latest restaurant that I am consulting with, and we did precisely this exercise.

I asked him to write down every single marketing expense that he was making, and then we started evaluating which ones could be tracked.

Amazingly for him (not for me because I was expecting this), 80% of his marketing expenses were non trackable. This means that he was expending a substantial amount of money advertising in the Yellow Pages, two local weekly papers and some other local restaurant catalogs, and yet he had no clue how many customers these expenses brought to his restaurant.

The first thing that we did was to eliminate any marketing expense that couldn’t be measured. This is just a logical step to really assess the return of investment.

Let me ask you. Would you invest money in stocks or a mutual funds if you couldn’t measure how well (or bad) they were performing?

Of course not, and yet many restaurateurs still spend money hoping for the best and without any substantial way to know how many customers those investments bring to the restaurant.

Since this particular owner was very attached to one specific weekly magazine, and he was assuring me that it brought him many customers, I asked him to change the ad to include a discount coupon.

If people really read his ad and came to his restaurant because of it, they will surely bring with them the discount coupon. In this way, he’ll know how many real customers this ad brings him and we will be able to make the numbers to see if it breaks even to cover for the expenses of the advertisement (I sincerely doubt it, but we’ll see…)

So after the inventory and cutting down several of his marketing initiatives, this owner was happy to see that he could save $2400 a month! That’s money in the pocket that he was wasting.

But this is not all. We also started implementing some inexpensive marketing changes. For example, his online presence was very underwhelming and yet most of the potential and current restaurant customers nowadays (including his, of course) are looking for restaurants online.

So I started working with him beefing up his web presence.

Of course the first step is the restaurant’s web site. His web site was nicely done but quite underutilized. I met with his webmaster and we implemented a signup form in the front page to capture his visitors information (on exchange for getting a welcome to my restaurant discount coupon when they enter it). We also added an online registration, a comments field and some other useful and interesting information for his customers.

He also signed up for Meta Flavor (www.metaflavor.com) a great (and free) way to promote your restaurant in the web.

Finally, he created a Twitter account and now started twitting whenever he has empty spaces and wants to bring people (quickly and inexpensively) in.

These are just some examples of things that you can do to improve your marketing and save money in the process.

In these days of slow economy, taking control of your marketing and operating strategically and smart is a must, if you want to survive these challenging times.

Have a great day!

Jose L Riesco
© Riesco Consulting Inc.
www.twitter.com/jlriesco
http://www.myrestaurantmarketing.com

Taking Control of Your Restaurant Marketing

In these days of doom and gloom I hear many restaurateurs complain about how slow business is and how the clients are spending less and less money dinning out.

However, as the saying says, “Times of crisis are times of opportunity”.

If your business is slow, perhaps this is a great time to re-evaluate the efficacy of your marketing. Eliminate dead wood in your marketing expenses and start investing your money smartly in marketing that really works (and you can prove that really works).

I met recently with the owner of the latest restaurant that I am consulting with, and we did precisely this exercise.

I asked him to write down every single marketing expense that he was making, and then we started evaluating which ones could be tracked.

Amazingly for him (not for me because I was expecting this), 80% of his marketing expenses were non trackable. This means that he was expending a substantial amount of money advertising in the Yellow Pages, two local weekly papers and some other local restaurant catalogs, and yet he had no clue how many customers these expenses brought to his restaurant.

The first thing that we did was to eliminate any marketing expense that couldn’t be measured. This is just a logical step to really assess the return of investment.

Let me ask you. Would you invest money in stocks or a mutual funds if you couldn’t measure how well (or bad) they were performing?

Of course not, and yet many restaurateurs still spend money hoping for the best and without any substantial way to know how many customers those investments bring to the restaurant.

Since this particular owner was very attached to one specific weekly magazine, and he was assuring me that it brought him many customers, I asked him to change the ad to include a discount coupon.

If people really read his ad and came to his restaurant because of it, they will surely bring with them the discount coupon. In this way, he’ll know how many real customers this ad brings him and we will be able to make the numbers to see if it breaks even to cover for the expenses of the advertisement (I sincerely doubt it, but we’ll see…)

So after the inventory and cutting down several of his marketing initiatives, this owner was happy to see that he could save $2400 a month! That’s money in the pocket that he was wasting.

But this is not all. We also started implementing some inexpensive marketing changes. For example, his online presence was very underwhelming and yet most of the potential and current restaurant customers nowadays (including his, of course) are looking for restaurants online.

So I started working with him beefing up his web presence.

Of course the first step is the restaurant’s web site. His web site was nicely done but quite underutilized. I met with his webmaster and we implemented a signup form in the front page to capture his visitors information (on exchange for getting a welcome to my restaurant discount coupon when they enter it). We also added an online registration, a comments field and some other useful and interesting information for his customers.

He also signed up for Meta Flavor (www.metaflavor.com) a great (and free) way to promote your restaurant in the web.

Finally, he created a Twitter account and now started twitting whenever he has empty spaces and wants to bring people (quickly and inexpensively) in.

These are just some examples of things that you can do to improve your marketing and save money in the process.

In these days of slow economy, taking control of your marketing and operating strategically and smart is a must, if you want to survive these challenging times.

Have a great day!

Jose L Riesco