In this quick read, we’ll illustrate how terribly wrong a night as a general manager can go because of one small online presence blunder, and what you can do to assure yourself that it doesn’t happen again. 

The scene: It’s 7pm on a Friday. You’re the general manager of a restaurant that was just featured on a top local foodgrammer’s blog on Wednesday. Your sous chef is out sick and your top bartender is off getting married in Hawaii. You’re completely booked until close and walk-ins are accepted for a few of your bar seats and high tops. The phone is ringing off the hook, and your host is stepping up to the plate and fielding takeout orders left and right in between seating parties of all sizes. You’ve already told him you owe him a drink after you get out from under this s*** storm of a night. 

You’re finally able to make it back to the kitchen to expedite as the restaurant enters the busiest hours of the night, and before you get to the kitchen threshold – you hear it. You want to turn around. Just walk out and leave it all behind. 

“THIS IS A F****** JOKE, RIGHT?!” Ted, your head chef, is screaming so loud that you peak back out into the dining room to ensure that guests aren’t noticing. 

“What the hell is going on?” you yell under your breath at Ted. 

“WHAT’S GOING ON?! What’s going on is that we got orders coming through on Grubhub for a special we ran LAST WEEK. You better call these people and tell them we don’t have any Alaskan crab legs, DOM,” Ted proclaims. 

Your night just went from bad to worse. You quickly collect all of the tickets that ordered the crab legs and run to your office to start calling these guests, deciding that you’ll offer them each one of the signature crab cake appetizers in addition to their refund. You know, for their “troubles.” You’re simultaneously scrambling to log on to the restaurant’s Grubhub account to update the menu, cursing to yourself that if it doesn’t update immediately, you’re calling the owner to let them know you cancelled the account without getting their permission. 

This is absolutely your fault – you spent approximately two hours of your “day off” on Monday updating the menu across all platforms except, of course, Grubhub. Because of it, you have to suffer a loss in order to maintain customer satisfaction. Restaurant margins were unforgiving prior to Covid and now you’re really putting the pressure on yourself to prove your worth. You and the owner of the restaurant have great rapport, but this could easily be one of three strikes against you in your career at this restaurant.  

Questions to ask yourself now: 

  • How can you stop this from happening to you? 
  • How can you keep the reigns of your online listings under your control?
  • How do you ensure that you are replying to any negative reviews as soon as possible?

It’s no surprise that it became even more necessary for restaurant owners and managers to have full control over their online presence in the Covid era. It’s absolutely imperative that these questions are not only answered, but that the problems are solved in a manner that makes your life easier and that make sense for the bottom line. 

In a Trip Advisor study, 94% of consumers stated that their dining decisions are the result of a restaurant’s online presence, noting that a restaurant’s menu is the number one factor in choosing one restaurant over another. You’ve been there personally – you and your partner are looking for a place to dine for your anniversary and because you’re a planner, you’re booking a month out and the options are essentially endless. 

So what do you do? You find the restaurants that have the best ratio of positive reviews to number of reviews, and once you’ve narrowed that number down, you slate the menus against each other, deciding which items you’re both most likely to want to indulge in on your anniversary. Knowing that these restaurants are updating their menus in real-time would allow your excitement to grow significantly. Additionally, imagine that you were able to check back in the weeks and days leading up to your special night to see that they’ve added a lobster tail special that will run through the evening of your date… now THAT’S online restaurant marketing at its finest!

Knowing how important this digital experience is from a consumer standpoint, you start to conceptualize as a GM how crucial it’s now becoming for you to have one platform to rely on for all of your online presence needs. Your research ensues. 

How can you update your business listings – including your ever changing menu – across the board, from one platform? And do it simultaneously? Oftentimes, the capabilities for updating the moment the “publish” button is pressed are actually quite low. Not to mention – business and menu info can be overwritten, especially if you’re relying on the free listing sites. 

Many of the solutions you’re coming across require that you still have to reach out to a developer or account manager to successfully update your menus. Imagine running into this issue, then having to reach out to the agency account manager that helps you administer all of your online listings? First off, it’s Friday night at 7:20 p.m. so there is a 1% chance she’ll answer. You need the technology that allows you to go in and update yourself. 

The implications for your restaurant’s SEO success with a platform that allows you to update everything in real time are practically instant, too. The more your updating is centered in one place and the algorithm tracking is more focused, the higher the chances of potential customers finding your restaurant becomes. 

The title of this article has the worst “must” in caps for a reason. It’s not just a convenience thing for your target audience anymore. It has become an obligation for you as a business owner. More importantly, as someone who wishes to grow that business into one of the most reputable restaurants in your city.