Operating one restaurant—let alone dozens of locations—requires a delicate dance between marketing, customer experience, and branding. You can put thousands of dollars worth of effort into branding your group of restaurants, but diner reviews are an important (and often unpredictable) measure of your brand’s success in the market.
Even if you don’t read reviews about your restaurants, your diners certainly do. In fact, 90% of guests look up a restaurant’s reviews before they decide to dine there. Since restaurants are the most-reviewed industry in the world, chances are good that, for better or for worse, you’ll start collecting diner feedback the moment you open your doors.
The issue is that it takes a tremendous amount of work to manage multiple restaurants and locations. Are reviews on platforms like Google still worth the work in 2021? While it’s always important to focus on margins and food quality, you still need to go all-in on Google reviews.
What are Google reviews?
Most diners consult their smartphones on the go to make dinner plans. They use apps like Google Maps to find nearby restaurants so they can check out the menu, read reviews, and decide if they want to eat there. The reviews that display next to each restaurant’s location in the app (as well as in desktop results) are Google reviews.
It’s fine if you want to focus your efforts on Facebook or Yelp too, but Google is the most popular review platform with diners: 59% consult the app before they buy anything.
In the restaurant industry, reviews are a double-edged sword. They can bring diners in by the dozen or scare off hundreds of paying customers. Because your reputation is in the hands of fickle diners, you need a strategic approach and hands-on management to transform reviews into a valuable tool for increasing revenue.
Why do Google reviews matter?
As a restaurant, you’re in the business of delighting customers. But your Google reviews affect everything from your foot traffic to your online search presence. Online reviews can have a tremendous impact on your restaurant’s future for three reasons.
1. Reviews influence where diners eat (and how much you earn)
Thirty-five percent of diners say that Google reviews influence whether they’ll dine at a restaurant. You can offer the best food in the city, but if your reviews are subpar, there’s a good chance you’ll see fewer diners at each location. After all, would you eat at a restaurant with two stars?
The good news is that this works both ways: positive reviews can boost your revenue significantly. In fact, i mproving your average rating by just half a star can increase revenue by up to 9%. If you’re trying to fill more seats and increase revenue, Google reviews are a must.
2. Turn around negative feedback
Don’t let a one-star review get you down. Merited or not, it’s how you handle a negative review that defines your restaurant brand. In fact, 30% of diners would be willing to reverse their negative review if you addressed their concerns.
Negative reviews are an opportunity to convert unhappy diners into lifelong customers. Do your best to publicly respond to a review and make things right. You can’t change the one-star rating, but you can certainly change the perception of other would-be diners who are reading the review. It might feel as if Google reviews open you up to criticism, but they’re actually the perfect opportunity to build trust with more diners.
3. Diners trust reviews more than you
Seventy-seven percent of diners want to see feedback from other diners, not from food critics. The good news is that, if a critic completely slammed one of your restaurants, chances are good that everyday diners won’t put a lot of stock into that review.
They do, however, put a lot of faith in reviews from other diners. If your restaurant has just a handful of Google reviews, it’s going to put diners on edge. They rely on reviews to know what they should expect when they dine at your restaurant; without that insight, they’re likely to eat somewhere else.
Since consumers generally trust the opinions of other consumers more than they trust restaurants, Google reviews help you build trust with diners who would otherwise be on the fence.
How much do Google reviews matter in 2021?
If you’re wondering, “Do Google reviews matter?” the answer is a resounding yes. Whether you like it or not, your Google reviews are a reflection of your restaurants’ quality. Even if the reviews aren’t 100% true, diners trust them. As a restauranteur, you should value reviews for these three reasons: managed effectively, they can improve margins, boost your reputation, and build a strong dining empire.
But how can you manage Google reviews for dozens of locations? Instead of trying to do everything yourself, use a platform like Localyser. Take control of your online reputation by monitoring and responding to reviews ASAP across multiple sites. Book a quick Localyser demo to see how we can help you serve more happy diners.