Restaurants and bars tend to live and die by their reviews. While professional critics were once the biggest worry in terms of getting your business reviewed, the line between critics and bloggers has started to blur with online reviews from every single customer. As a result, it’s not as simple to get your new premises reviewed by a professional. A quick overview of the situation will reveal how you can get the critics and bloggers in the door and how you can make them see your business in the best light possible!
Make Sure You’re Ready
Before you start making calls, enlisting local food critics or offering bloggers a chance to sample your new products, you must make sure that your business is up for it. Reviews make or break businesses all the time, and your restaurant literally can’t afford to make mistakes. You must ensure that your processes are fast, clean, and precise on the front and back ends. Customer-facing workers should know everything they need to know, and they should also know how to get answers if they don’t know about a specific topic. Your management should be able to put out fires as they pop up, whether that is hopping in to be on the POS, seating people, or bussing tables if everyone else is preoccupied. Get your premises in order, too. Nothing will scare off bloggers faster than a dirty kitchen or eating area.
Attracting Critics and Bloggers
Once you have ensured that your restaurant is ready to be critiqued, it’s time for you to start getting critics and bloggers into your building. How on earth are you supposed to do that? Well, that’s the big question, and you’ll find that there are several different answers. Depending on who you want to visit your restaurant and the prestige of the media outlet that they represent, you can be a little more direct than you’d imagine. Here are some things that you need to know.
Reach out to them
When you’re trying to get local, unaffiliated foodies and bloggers to review your business, you can feel free to reach out to them directly. They want to get content for their site or YouTube page, and you want people to know about your place. Them eating at your business must be strictly transactional, you’re allowing them to review the food and premises, and they’re providing you with an honest review. You should still set ground rules to maintain a professional appearance. You should probably not offer to give them a free meal unless they specifically mention in their review that you provided it for the purposes of the content. That can sound more like an advertisement than a review, though, so you have to watch out. In most cases, it’s better to do the whole thing blind— let them come in any time they want, pay for the meal, and have a great time. Perhaps send them a voucher or gift after the review is done.
You should know that this will not happen with affiliated, professional food critics. They will not let you know they’re coming. Yet, they will also not make an appearance unless their readers demand it, or you manage to pique their interest. They would not stake their reputation on going to a place where they are asked to go. That’s a distinction that restauranters should know and understand.
Generate Buzz Through Unique Food and Drinks
Knowing that many restaurant reviewers won’t go near a restaurant unless they feel there is a need, how do you get them through the door? Well, you have to create a buzz. One of the best ways to do that is to open a restaurant or bar that serves food or drinks that are unique. For example, some bars are featuring craft beers, small batches, and drinks like mead that are not standard fare in their area of operation. When word gets out that you’re serving up something special, it will all but necessitate a visit from local foodies, critics, and bloggers.
Good Service and Getting Your Customers to Review Your Place
Another way that you can generate enough interest in your place to get professional reviews is by offering high-quality service to your customers. The wonderful service that you provide for your customers can be leveraged to convince them to do enough reviews to gain the attention of critics and bloggers from your area.
Over time, enough of a positive review will make them consider coming your way, and doing a review on their own. The downside is that you have to ensure that your team is firing on all cylinders all the time to impress the people that come to your establishment. It’s almost a self-fulfilling prophecy— constant great service and food leads to better reviews.
Bring Your A-Game
When you’re beginning to get enough notice around town that people are leaving reviews about your site, then it’s time to start putting out feelers and contacting bloggers and some unaffiliated critics. That’s when you really need to have your team dig deep on training and have them ensure they’re working their best all the time to ensure your guests have the best experience possible. Training your existing staff should be a priority during this time. Also, if you’ve gotten some positive responses to introducing new foods or drinks, then keep innovating. You can’t afford to stagnate when you’re waiting for the reviews to come.
Getting critics and bloggers to come into your bar or restaurant can be a very taxing experience. After all, you have to lay the groundwork and then essentially hope that they find your place interesting enough to make the trip. Yet, some amateur reviewers and bloggers would like the opportunity to review your food and drinks. For a small consideration on your part, you could start to understand what is so attractive about your place from an outsider’s perspective and learn what to work on. Remember that hard work, good food, and great service will always keep people coming back.
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