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Blog / March 19, 2024

Tips for Automating Your Restaurant’s Reputation Management Strategy

restaurant reputation management

Without a proactive strategy or the right tools, restaurant reputation management can make your head spin. Customer reviews come in from every direction — Facebook, GrubHub, YouTube, Google and more — and all of them need a reply. 

There are customer service issues to handle, trends to identify and patterns to report. And that’s just the start. 

Whew. We’re tired just thinking about it. 

But that’s why there’s technology. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are changing the game for review management, making it easier, faster and more efficient to manage your online presence — no matter how vast it is.  

Keep reading to learn expert tips, tools and technology for automating review management and improving your restaurant’s reputation online across Google, review sites and social media. 

Mastering Google Reviews 

Google is the go-to source for, well, just about everything. This includes reviews of your business. 

Improving your Google star rating is crucial to driving traffic from new and existing customers, especially if your existing review average is 3 stars or below. According to reviewtrackers, 33% of diners say they wouldn’t consider dining at a restaurant with an average 3-star rating.  

Set Up Monitoring Tools

An ongoing reputation management strategy isn’t realistic without the right technology, especially at scale. Plus, taking advantage of monitoring tools ensures you never miss a mention.  

Use monitoring tools like Google Alerts to track mentions of your restaurant’s name online. This is especially helpful for public relations, as you’ll get an email if your restaurant is mentioned. You’ll also be able to choose the desired frequency, so you get alerts as they happen, once per day or weekly. 

For broader reputation management, invest in reputation management software like SevenRooms.

SevenRooms’ reputation management software consolidates online reviews from sites like Google, Facebook, Yelp and Tripadvisor into one dashboard. This allows you to see your daily aggregated star rating, easily respond to reviews and get a deeper understanding of guest sentiment. 

With a unified view of all your guest reviews, you can easily identify trends that help improve guest satisfaction and loyalty

For example, if a large number of Google reviews mention wanting more dessert options, use this insight to refine your menu. If reviewers note that your outdoor seating is too cold during certain months, invest in outdoor heaters to keep them comfortable. 

Link Google Reviews to Guest Profiles 

Look for reputation management software that integrates with your restaurant’s customer relationship management (CRM) platform. Connecting customer reviews to guest profiles allows restaurant staff to provide tailored customer service that can improve your Google star rating. 

For example, SevenRooms’ CRM automatically collects guest data as customers visit and creates guest profiles you can customize with tags. As your team analyzes reviews, they can make notes in guest profiles using guest tags like “positive reviewer” or “negative reviewer.” 

Then, your restaurant staff can surprise and delight these guests on their next visit. Think comped meals or a table upgrade. This can lead to improved retention and guest satisfaction. Guests may also leave additional reviews, improving your overall Google star rating.

Use AI to Create Response Templates

Posting the same response repeatedly can feel inauthentic to customers. But writing a new response each time can be a productivity killer. 

To strike a happy medium, use an artificial intelligence (AI) tool, like ChatGPT, to generate a list of responses. For negative reviews, specify common issues in your prompt, like slow service or reservation availability, so ChatGPT can generate appropriate responses. 

For example, we asked ChatGPT to create a list of responses a restaurant owner could use to reply to positive reviews. 

Here’s what we got: 

But don’t just copy/paste. Edit the response for brand voice and natural language. Most importantly, reference something specific from the review and include the person’s name. 

For example, if the review mentioned a dish, edit the template to include that detail. 

Like this:

“Thank you so much for taking the time to leave such a glowing review, [Lauren]! We’re thrilled to hear you enjoyed your experience at [restaurant name].”

Managing Online Review Sites

Restaurant review sites like Yelp and Tripadvisor give diners a platform to voice their thoughts — and restaurants an opportunity to promote incredible guest experiences and drive traffic, but only if you can effectively manage them. 

Take control of your online reputation with these tips: 

Proactively Monitor Reviews 

If possible, monitor reviews on a daily or weekly basis. Set up real-time alerts in your review management software to notify staff when a new review is published. 

Some of the top restaurant review sites to monitor include the following: 

  • Facebook: This platform has widespread reach — respond to all messages and encourage diners to leave reviews. 
  • Yelp: The more Yelp reviews you have, the merrier. Reviewers often speak about food quality, service and their overall dining experience.
  • TripAdvisor: This site is crucial for attracting both local diners and tourists. Reviews on this site can influence visitor choices and perceptions.
  • GrubHub: Ratings can directly affect the amount of orders you get on this food delivery site.
  • OpenTable: Reviews on OpenTable can impact future bookings and your restaurant’s reputation.
  • HappyCow: Essential for vegetarian and vegan restaurants and those with plant-based options. Improving your reputation on this site can lead to more traffic from an underserved segment.
  • AllergyEats: Review site of allergy-friendly restaurants. Gauge how well you’re accommodating diners with dietary restrictions. 
  • Forums: Reddit, Quora and relevant Facebook groups can provide valuable insight into your restaurant’s reputation.

Respond to Reviews Promptly 

Prompt responses show customers you care — and inspire confidence in those reading them. 

Thank reviewers for positive reviews to show you appreciate their patronage. For negative reviews, ask for the opportunity to make it right. Take note of recurrent customer feedback and make changes if necessary. 

For example, Australian restaurant and SevenRooms client Vandal has an effective restaurant reputation management strategy. The Vandal team responds to every review, including the negative ones.

If they get less-than-positive reviews, they ask for a second chance. They also integrate the feedback with SevenRooms’ CRM to ensure negative reviewers have a better experience next time. The team flags reviewers as VIPs in guest profiles so servers know to comp meals or drinks on their next visit. 

As the restaurant’s owner, Peter Varvaressos, says, “One hundred percent of the time, we get those customers back. You can make a negative into a double positive.”

Send Automated Surveys

Marketing automation software is a restaurateur’s best friend. Get more reviews and reduce your team’s workload by sending automated surveys after each guest visit. 

Marketing automation tools allow you to schedule and send surveys so you get consistent feedback. Encourage customers to share feedback directly with your team and/or leave a review on your preferred online review platform. 

By sending surveys after dining experiences, you have a chance to respond before negative reviews are posted online. It also helps you identify areas of improvement and strengths. 

For example, Atelier House Hospitality uses SevenRooms’ marketing automation and reputation management tools to proactively manage guest feedback. 

“If there’s a negative or positive review, we can easily get back to them,” Alexandru Popescu, director of operations for Atelier House Hospitality. “It’s very easy for people to review our restaurants and we get a lot of feedback from SevenRooms. I think it’s the biggest feedback generator — even more than Google Maps.”

Monitoring Social Media

Sixty-three percent of consumers use social media to find new restaurants and menu items. But if you don’t respond to mentions or let DMs go unanswered, you could miss out on reservations and revenue — and hurt your reputation. 

Follow these tips for a more effective and efficient restaurant reputation management strategy for social media. 

Automate Social Listening

Social listening is an important part of any online reputation management strategy. But don’t waste time manually tracking mentions. 

Use social media listening tools like Hootsuite, Sprout Social or Brandwatch to monitor restaurant mentions across platforms in a unified dashboard. These tools use sentiment and keyword analysis to scan brand mentions on social media for trends. 

This can quickly identify negative feedback and help you prioritize responses. Set up automated alerts for specific keywords related to your brand, such as your restaurant name, to quickly respond to feedback or comments.

If someone posts a video of your restaurant on Instagram or Facebook, leave a comment thanking them for their visit. Take it one step further by DMing them a special offer for a future visit, like a percentage off or VIP table. This can lead to repeat visits and long-term loyalty. 

Use Chatbots on Social Media Platforms

Managing your restaurant’s reputation isn’t just about reading reviews. It’s about proactively responding to customers and giving them convenient ways to receive support. 

But with nearly 70% of consumers expecting a response on social media within 24 hours or less, this can be tough to manage. 

This is where AI shines. Implement chatbots on Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram to automate replies. Chatbots can provide immediate responses and route complaints to team members, improving customer service and freeing up your time. 

Automate the following tasks with chatbots:

  • Common inquiries
  • Reservations
  • Customer service requests
  • Guest feedback 

Chatbots like ServiceBell, Talkative and Intercom enable you to provide customer support even during off hours. This speeds up response times and enhances customer satisfaction. 

Giving guests a quick way to provide negative feedback — and receive responses and resolutions — can also help reduce the amount of negative reviews that go public. 

Showcase User-Generated Content 

No marketing campaign can compete with the power of user-generated content (UGC). It’s an authentic and compelling way to boost brand awareness for your restaurant. 

When social media users positively mention your brand, use this to your advantage. Reshare the images, videos and reviews on your social media accounts. But don’t stop there. 

Here’s how you can make the most of UGC: 

  • Create a hashtag: Encourage customers to use a specific hashtag when posting about their dining experiences at your restaurant. This makes it easy for you to find and feature these posts.
  • Highlight UGC in marketing materials: Incorporate user-generated photos and reviews into marketing materials such as menus, flyers and social media posts. This adds authenticity and social proof to your promotional efforts.
  • Thank followers who create UGC: Show appreciation to featured customers by sending them thank-you notes, discounts or freebies. This fosters a sense of community and encourages continued engagement with your restaurant.

Pro Tip: When social media followers create user-generated content for your restaurant, note this in their guest profile. Servers can surprise them with an in-person “thank you” gift next time they visit. Like a complimentary glass of champagne or dessert.

Give Restaurant Reputation Management a Tech Makeover 

Let’s face it — reviews can be a challenging part of being a restaurant owner. But they’re also a unique opportunity to drive more traffic, loyalty and revenue. 

The secret sauce to effective restaurant reputation management? Technology. Automating tasks, aggregating data and integrating software make reputation management fast, easy and effective. 

SevenRooms’ hospitality CRM, revenue management software and marketing automation tools integrate seamlessly to provide you with a holistic way to manage your restaurant’s reputation online. Give it a whirl and chat with our sales team to learn more

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Restaurant Reputation Management?

Restaurant reputation management is the act of monitoring, maintaining and enhancing the perception of a restaurant. It involves actively shaping how the restaurant is perceived online and offline to build trust and loyalty. This includes responding to reviews and analyzing trends to make changes within the restaurant that will improve customer loyalty and satisfaction.

What Does Reputation Management Include?

Reputation management includes monitoring online reviews, social media mentions and feedback, as well as responding promptly and professionally to both positive and negative comments. It also involves fostering positive word-of-mouth through excellent customer service and consistent quality.

How to Determine Your Restaurant’s Reputation

Determine your restaurant’s reputation by analyzing ratings and reviews. Pay close attention to the feedback, as it offers direct insight into your customers’ experiences and perceptions. Use review management software to make this process easier. Perform a competitive analysis to learn where rival restaurants excel and where they could improve. Use these insights to differentiate your restaurant. 

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