I recently opened a restaurant and have been unnerved by a local blogger who has posted a negative review. I am beside myself. We have only been open for six weeks and the blog-person ate here on the fourth night. He was with a small group of people, gave us no notice and listed all of the bad points in the story. What should I do? He refuses to take the post down. Should I sue?
Unnerved by the Blogging Review
A relatively new element in the business, the restaurant blogging community wields tremendous influence over the dining public. The change in guidelines from those adhered to by newspaper, magazine and other print reviewers have many owners and managers pondering the same predicament you face. The blogger however is merely a customer, with a vast following, a loud voice and an opinion. Word of mouth advertising, albeit on steroids, is how blogging should be perceived.
I have yet to meet an unhappy restaurant owner who had a customer broadcast the pleasantries of a meal to all of their friends. Yet, whenever a customer has a complaint, owner’s hope they will keep it to themselves.
I am not saying this is true in all cases, but the blogging community’s voice is being heard and diners are listening to what they have to say. As a group, they are gaining prominence. Their ability to direct crowds to restaurants that shine and away from those in need of a makeover is becoming more forceful.
In Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle, the headline “Food bloggers dish up plates of spicy criticism” appeared above the fold on the front page. The writers, Stacy Finz and Justin Berton did a great job of highlighting the importance of the food blogging community. According to the story, many owners face criticism or praise from the cyberspace reviewers on a frequent basis, yet are unfamiliar with the repercussions. Perplexing as it may seem, blog reviews havebecome a regular part of doing business.
Diners desiring a recommendation for dinner seek out food bloggers, with a reliable reputation. A thumbs up or down can certainly impede a restaurateurs business when thousands, or possibly more, potential customers read or hear about the blogger’s experience. For years, many owners have been able to keep missteps, bad experiences, and unforgettable disasters under wraps with the occasional gift certificate or by picking up the check. Those days may be over.
Yes, it may be time to fine-tune your entire operation. Bloggers are becoming as popular as any mainstream reviewer. And, although some may have personal agenda’s, miniscule readership, and a taste for flavor of the poison pen, people are reading and taking their comments seriously.
Owners should all take bloggers more seriously. They do have an effect on the industry and your business. Here are a few tips:
Get to know who is blogging about food in your area.
Comment on a few of their postings.
Invite the blogger and a guest in for dinner.
Hold daily shift meetings.
Make sure your staff is fine-tuned.
Run your restaurant as though everyone is a reviewer. They are.
Finally, if you get a negative posting, comment on it and explain the situation as you saw it. Most legitimate blogger’s enjoy the dialogue.