Watching the Rep.

I’ve already talked about how different sites give people a chance to say what they really think about your restaurant.  When people have a bad experience such as bad food or bad service, there is a good chance they are sharing it with others via the internet.  It used to be that only two percent of those with a bad experience would either confront the establishment or talk to others about it.  Now, thanks to advanced technology and social networking sites, everyone is talking about everything, and you better believe that means you and your business.

The first step in managing your restaurants online reputation is to be consistently aware of what is being said about you.  One way to do this is to subscribe to an RSS Feed.  RSS is more commonly known as Really Simple Syndication.  It lets you pull content from different sites and have it all in one place.  So how does this help you?  You can find everything that is being said about your restaurant at one place.  Any time someone writes a bad or good review about your restaurant it will appear in what is called your reader.  I’ve found someone who can explain this far better than me.  So, below is a video that teaches you what an RSS feed is, as well as how to get one.

Okay, now that you know what people are saying about you, what actions should  you take?  I feel that the best way to handle your online reputation whether you own a restaurant or any other establishment, is to be honest.  If you are going to respond to a review or comment, honestly and sincerity will go a long way in undoing the damage.  While it is important to respond quickly in order to address the concerns of the consumers, responding quickly without proper consideration can be detrimental.  Rather, it would be best to consult others you work with or even friends and family before replying.  Having a couple other perspectives than your own will help you formulate a response that will satisfy both the complainant and others reading the complaint.

Some companies feel it would be best not to respond to what others are saying.  I think that is a bad idea! Customers want to know that their thoughts and opinions matter and are being heard.  The way to success is relationship management.  Talk to the consumer and put their concerns at ease!  Don’t give them the silent treatment…

 

Onine Venting: Is Your Restaurant a Victim?

We’ve all had our bad experiences at a restaurant.  The server took forever to get my drinks.  The food brought to me was not what I ordered.  I waited 45 minutes to be seated.  You all know what I’m talking about.  After this bad experience, how many people did you tell?  Studies show when a person has a bad experience with a product or service, they are 3 times as likely to share this experience than they would be if they had a good experience.  Upon contemplating personal experience, I’m sure this is true.

With the rapidly growing use of social networking sites as well as review sites, people are no longer turning to their 3 friends and venting.  Now, people post their bad experience in a status update, a tweet, or a blog.  This can be bad news for restaurants.

Because I work in a restaurant, I am the first to admit it’s common for a server to have a bad day.  Sometimes we’re forgetful or busy, so good service can be temporarily lacking.  Sadly, when a server forgets to start entrees for a table and then forgets their drink order, a bad experience can be so negative that the guest immediately runs home to their laptop and writes a bad review on Yelp.com.

Let’s discuss this review site.  As stated on the homepage, yelp is, “a fun and easy way to find and talk about great (and not so great) local business.”  If you own or manage a local restaurant, you better believe you’re being talked about on this site.  To demonstrate what you can find on this site, lets use Peg’s Glorified Ham N Eggs.  First, you can find a detailed ratings distribution.  This particular restaurant has fantastic ratings, having 70 percent of people giving them 5 stars.  Then you find a detailed description of the restaurant that consists of food type, address and phone number, wifi access, and even whether or not outdoor seating is offered.  Then come the reviews.  This restaurant has 115 reviews, most of which are excellent.  In this case, yelp has contributed to the good reputation of this restaurant.  Sadly this isn’t always the case.

I want to demonstrate the negativity of the Yelp site without hurting a local restaurant so lets call it Pizza Place.  Here is an example of a negative review found on Yelp:

“Dang!  These folks are always on the low side of quality control. The trade off is quick service and good prices. They have gone too far down this time. The wings are obviously the caliber that would be otherwise used for pet food. The coagulated blood and deformed wings are worrisome! Images of the worst poultry factories can’t leave my mind.. too bad. I’ll be the first to say thet the reason I go to Pizza Place is my unwillingness to pay for a fancy place…kinda slummin’ it.  If you happen to order to pick up, it is clear that it is sort of a drunken spot and you can notice the toothless cooks outside smoking on the east side of the building.
You should think twice before going here.”

Clearly, after reading this review, I wouldn’t want to go there!  It is important to know what is being said about your local restaurant.  Being aware is the first step to being proactive.  For steps on how to be proactive, stay tuned!

Staying a Foot Ahead

I have been an athlete all my life.  I’ve gone through countless pairs of basketball shoes, Soccer shin guards, volleyball knee pads, you name it.  Over the years, athletic brands have constantly had to compete for my affections.  It was a continuous battle between Nike and Adidas in my mind.  Nike often was victorious, not because of any particular marketing genius, but because my father was a brand-loyal Nike consumer.

Today, as a continue to engage in athletic activity, so much more information is available pertaining to these two companies that should aid in my decision.  Nike or Adidas?  Because having a social media presence is becoming an increasingly substantial influence on brand success, it is fitting to analyze these companies in terms of their presence on the net.  I figure that, the more people liking a certain brand, and talking about it positively, the more likely that they are the best choice for an athletic apparel purchase.

The logical first step would be to check the websites of the two companies.  I first looked at Nike’s site. The site is colorful, easy to access and navigate, and showcases their best shoes.  However, a couple problems come to mind.  First, there is now noticeable connection to the companies networking sites.  This is becoming increasingly important.  Also, there is no real site homepage.  Rather, there are links to different shoe sites.  Then I looked at Adidas site. While this site does have an actual homepage, it is not as visually striking of a site as Nike.  This site has a noticeable link to its Twitter, but no connection to Facebook is seen on the homepage.  Both of these companies need to step their game up when it comes to social media…

The second step is to check out the Facebook pages of these two companies.  Facebook.com/Nike has a Facebook page that is keeping with the times.  They have switched to the timeline feature Facebook has recently implemented, which suggests that Nike is “hip” in the social media world.  They also have an astounding number of “likes” reaching 7.9 million.  The site states that 830,734 people are talking about Nike on Facebook.  The site also shows the supplementary sites that Nike offers such as NIke Basketball, Football, etc., with their number of “likes” as well.  Overall, this is a very well-maintained Facebook page.

Adidas Facebook page is a different story.  This company has not taken the leap and switched to the timeline feature, which suggests to me that the IT guys at Adidas are slacking a bit.  In this technology savvy world, big brand companies like Adidas need to get it together.  Despite this fact, Adidas still has an impressive 6.5 million “likes.”  All of Adidas posts on the Facebook wall are regarding their celebrity endorsements.  That is what commercials are for!  Bragging on their site seems a bit tacky.

I’m not a “Tweeter” myself, but how many people are following certain brands on Twitter is becoming an increasingly important measurement for brand success as well.  Currently, Nike has 288,733 followers on Twitter, and Adidas has 200,204.  If this is any indication of which brand to chose, Nike is winning, but not by much.

What does this really mean for these companies?  I’m not sure I buy in to the belief that the more likes and followers, the more money this company is making.  A lot of people could “like” a certain brand or “follow” one with absolutely no intention of purchasing its products.  I digress.

I’m switching to Under Armour.

A Site Good Enough to Eat!

Let me start by saying that I am a big fan of good restaurants as well as good food.  But these days, it isn’t enough to just have unique menu items and a tasty menu.  People are doing their homework before they go out to eat.  By homework, I mean that people are looking at the websites of the different restaurants in order to pick out the one that has exactly what they are looking for.  So, it becomes increasingly important for restaurants to continually maintain their site.  I’m going to talk about a few things that, as a consumer and marketing student, I feel make a restaurant website appetizing.

The first major ingredient in the website recipe is to have a home page that is inviting and easy to navigate.  To demonstrate what I mean, have found a restaurant that has it mastered.  Campo, a recently opened restaurant in Reno has a great site that can be found at http://www.camporeno.com/.  In bold letters at the top of the site, the meaning of campo is written.  Translated, it means gathering spot or meeting place.  What a great way to introduce yourself to the guest!  In addition, above this translation is a picture of pizzas cooking in a stone oven.  My mouth is watering.  If that doesn’t appeal inviting to consumers, I don’t know what will. 

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The next ingredient needed to cook the perfect website is a list of the food offerings.  I hate hate hate visiting a restaurants website and there is no list of what food is served!  The restaurant I’d like to use to demonstrate this ingredient is Zozo’s Ristorante.  Their site can be found at http://www.zozosreno.com/.  This site has not one, not two, but three menus presented as links on the home page.  Their banquet, dinner, and lunch menu are displayed, as well as a wine list.  It is not just a list, either.  The site contains an actually picture of the menu presented at the restaurant.  I find this useful to customers because they can go to the restaurant and know exactly where the food item they want is on the menu.

The last ingredient, the garnish if you will, is the need for a link or display of news and media coverage and/or testimonials.  This is an ingredient definitely lacking with the local restaurants in Reno, NV.  Mostly corporate restaurants have such links.  I find this very important because I like to try new places that receive positive coverage.

I leave you with this:  consumers, do you homework and check out the sites before you eat.  Restaurant owners, do your homework and read my blog.