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More than ever, customers are relying on online reviews to help them figure out where to eat. For a lot of guests, eating out at a restaurant is a special occasion that doesn’t happen every day. For this reason, people want to collect as much information as possible ahead of time so they can be sure of having a memorable and delicious experience. It’s important now more than ever to increase positive online restaurant reviews.

With the popularity of sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor, collecting that info is easier than ever and online reviews are now playing a major role in determining whether or not new customers will find their way to your tables.

In order to maintain your restaurant’s stellar reputation and attract new customers, you’ll need to focus a fair amount of your branding and marketing attention on increasing positive online reviews.

How to increase positive online restaurant reviews in 6 steps

Follow these tips on how to increase positive online restaurant reviews and watch both the glowing feedback and the customers roll in.

1. Invite your regulars to review

If you have a solid base of regular customers who love your business and with whom you’ve already developed an established relationship, you can reach out to them and invite them to leave a positive review online. It’s best to do this in person, at the end of a particularly exceptional dining experience.

Customers who you’ve spent time building a positive relationship with will want your business to succeed and online reviews are a simple extension of the word-of-mouth praise they’re likely already giving you. Likely your regulars will be keen to spread the word about one of their favourite establishments so don’t underestimate the power of a polite and gentle suggestion.

2. Build relationships with your clientele

What if you’re a new business that doesn’t have established relationships with regulars? Well then it’s time to start building that loyal customer base. Take note of the guests who make a point to complement the owner or manager at the end of the meal as well as the guests who return more than once.

Having an up-to-date guestbook with client profiles is a great first step in keeping track of your budding regulars. Once you’ve determined your biggest potential fans, make a point to develop a relationship with them as the owner and encourage your managers to do the same. Once in a while, send them a little digestif or appetizer on the house to show how much you appreciate their business.

Now that you’ve built relationships, you can invite those new regulars to support your business online, again with that gentle power of suggestion.