If these three major restaurant marketing trends don’t get your attention and find themselves reflected in your restaurant marketing strategies, you may find your restaurant getting served – by the competition.

Three Trends Impacting Restaurant Success Right Now

Once upon a time restaurant marketing was simple and straightforward. A yellow page listing and occasional newspaper ad or coupon was all that it took to bring new restaurant customers in the door, along with personal referrals from your most loyal restaurant patrons, of course. Restaurant marketing isn’t so simple anymore!

Now, a restaurant marketing strategy must include significant investment of time and resources in digital marketing including development and constant updating of a restaurant’s:

  • Website (search and user friendly, regardless of device)
  • Distribution of digital ads, coupons and offers
  • Social networks
  • Email marketing
  • Review and rating sites

In addition, your restaurant marketing strategy still needs to include offline restaurant marketing activities including networking, community involvement, customer relations and reputation management. We want to draw your attention to three important restaurant marketing trends, in particular, as noted in a BrightLocal.com consumer review survey.

3 Restaurant Marketing Trends and Strategic Takeaways

1. A 100% year-over-year increase in the number of people who used the internet to search for local businesses every day

27% of consumers looked online daily for a local business in 2018 – more than double the proportion in 2017. And if your ideal customer type is younger, this becomes even more important. 54% of shoppers aged 18-34 used the internet to search for a local business every day, and 81% of younger consumers did so at least once a week.

  • Your restaurant marketing strategy must feature at its core an omni-device-friendly website optimized for local search. Older consumers largely use bigger devices (PC/MAC) to search for local businesses online while younger shoppers tend to search on mobile devices.
Restaurant marketing trends - omni-device websites

Source: BrightLocal

  • Your website can’t just be a place-holder. Get ahead by adopting a content marketing strategy that incorporates best practices for SEO (search engine optimization) as well as publishing quality content for site visitors on a regular basis – at least weekly.

2.  86% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses and 40% ONLY consider reviews written within the past 2 weeks

One great write up or review can bring new customers in, but the effectiveness of a great review diminishes over time. Consumers know that over time, standards can slip, menus can grow stale, management can become complacent, and so on. Especially in the restaurant industry, where many shoppers are looking for something new to try.

  • Restaurants must monitor online review and rating sites or risk inaccurate or dishonest reviews living a long life – and impacting their ability to attract new customers – on online review and rating cites (like Google, Facebook and yelp).
  • Restaurants should solicit and post customer reviews and ratings on their own websites, social networks, blog and use them in email marketing.
  • You can’t rest on your laurels. Getting testimonials, reviews and ratings must be an on-going initiative for restaurateurs.

3. Year-over-year increase in the number of consumers who read online reviews for restaurants

This goes beyond reviews and ratings, although it includes them. Year over year, more and more consumers rely on restaurant reviews when choosing which local eateries to favor. In fact, it’s not even close! For no other industry do consumers read more reviews than restaurants.

do restaurant reviews matter - restaurant marketing trends

Source: BrightLocal

  • Add reputation management to your restaurant marketing strategy – immediately! Although your restaurant’s reputation is certainly affected by reviews and ratings, it goes far beyond the quality of the food you serve or how fast you get it to the table.
  • Today’s consumers expect businesses to respond to concerns and complaints within 24 hours or less, regardless of channel. 30% expect a response on social media within 30 minutes! Make sure you are continually monitoring not only review sites but your restaurant’s social media channels as well.

The reputation of your restaurant could also be affected by any number of other factors:

  • Whether your staff members are pleasant or likeable, and their ability to deliver good service, consistently
  • The cleanliness of your restaurant
  • Your décor and the type of atmosphere and ambiance in your restaurant (and whether it resonates with members of your target markets)
  • How your staff responds to the occasional problem or unusual patron requests
  • Community involvement and charitable contributions
  • Press coverage and PR

It may sound like a lot of work – and in truth, it is – but in a day and age when one bad customer review can be recorded and go viral immediately, the stakes have never been higher! Make sure that your restaurant marketing strategies are in line with what consumers say is most influential for them – or you risk getting served by the competition!

You might also like: How to Respond to a Bad Restaurant Review without Biting Back


Short of biting back, how can you respond in order to make sure that your reputation isn’t hurt by a bad restaurant review?

A Menu of Options for Responding to a Bad Restaurant Review

Did someone post a bad restaurant review about your business? Find out how to repair the damage, salvage customer relationships and recover after someone posts a negative review about your restaurant online.

It’s no fun to discover that a consumer has posted a negative review about your restaurant on social networks or a public review site. Few in the restaurant industry missed the social media storm that hit “Kitchen Nightmares” restaurant reality show featuring the owners of Scottsdale, AZ’s Amy’s Baking Company. Not only did the show’s host, Gordon Ramsay, actually give up on his attempt to help the company, things seemed only to go from bad to worse, including an onslaught of scathing social media posts on the company page and across the internet.

While it’s unlikely that your restaurant would ever find itself in a media meltdown, it points to the importance of having a plan for how you will deal with a bad restaurant review, customer complaints and social media slights that could damage the reputation of your restaurant and impact profitability. Your plan should also ensure PR training for employees, who could find themselves in the position of a spokesman needing to defend the reputation of your restaurant.

Who, What, When, Where and Why – Tips for Responding to a Bad Restaurant Review

Who Should Respond to a Bad Restaurant Review

While the first choice for “who” should be the one to respond to a negative review, social media post or customer complaint might be the restaurant owner or a designated marketing or public relations officer, it’s also important that a back-up be identified in the case that an individual is traveling, ill or unable to respond in a timely manner for some other reason.

What Will Merit a Response

Remember that it’s impossible to please everyone all of the time. Few (if any) restaurants receive 5-star ratings from every patron. A few negative comments here and there are not likely to damage the reputation of your restaurant or deter patronage provided there are several positive reviews and good ratings to offset them.

Every negative comment will not merit a response. Your media policy should include a general outline of the type of bad reviews or negative social media updates that will (or may not) require a response. In general, you only need to respond to bad reviews or negative ratings you feel have real potential to hurt your business in some way.

When to Respond to a Bad Restaurant Review

Depending on the topic of a bad review, you may want to delay your response until you have a chance to take other actions; such as:

  • investigating the complaint
  • contacting the individual personally
  • deciding what type of amends you want to offer
  • exploring the options available to you depending on the policies of the platform where the review was left (Yelp, CitySearch, Facebook, Google+, etc.)

When you do respond, make every effort to keep the conversation positive. Focus on the merits of your restaurant, staff, menu and other positives. Offer amends that can lead to a positive outcome for all parties. Avoid making comments that could be construed as personal insults or insinuations.

Keeping to the high road when you respond could be enough to protect the reputation of your restaurant from potential damage. Likewise, it can even bring in new business and motivate loyal customers to come back more often, not only offsetting any potential lost profits but actually increasing them.

Where to Respond

Ideally, you would be able to leave a response directly at the source. For instance, if the poor review came in the form of a social status update, the best place to respond might be as a direct reply or private message. If it’s not possible to leave a direct reply, you may need to post an open response on your own social media pages, blog, website or even include a response in your email newsletter.

Why a Bad Restaurant Review Can Be a Good Thing

Bad reviews can produce positive outcomes and these could come in many different forms, such as:

  • Discovering inadequacies in the customer experience
  • Identifying the need for staff training in general, or in specific areas
  • Fixing sub-par menu items or recipes
  • Providing opportunities to make amends with an unhappy customer
  • Giving you a chance to garner the attention of local press and build brand awareness
  • Laying the groundwork for better online marketing and reputation management

Study says more than 6 in ten employers find it hard to fill open positions. Find out more about the study and get four tips for selling company culture to potential new hires, to make landing top talent easier.

Why Are Employers Having Difficulty Filling Positions?

A new Express Employment Professionals survey conducted in December 2015 found that more than 6 out of ten employers – 65 percent – said they found it somewhat or very difficult to successfully attract the right candidates in order to fill open positions. With a low unemployment rate and increased competition for highly skilled, experienced employees, HR and staffing agencies that want to win the war for talent are going to have to do more than post a position opening or job description.

Selling Company Culture Helps Land Top Talent and Fill Hard-to-Fill Jobs

Staffing Industry Analysts quotes Express’ CEO Bob Funk as saying that while there are still plenty of people who want jobs and some who have stopped looking altogether, that “part of the difficulty has been that the people who want to work may not have the skills that employers need.” For some employers, the answer when it becomes difficult to fill open positions may even be to take a risk on unskilled-but-potentially-capable workers and invest in developing employees on the job.

However, hiring for potential and training the skills needed is not always a viable option for employers. HR and staffing agencies faced with the challenge of finding candidates to fill hard-to-fill position openings can win the war for talent if they understand what candidates are looking for. Selling company culture to new hires can help sway decisions one way or another.

From the benefits offered to leader communication styles, every aspect of company culture can be transformed into an internal marketing tool that makes it easier for a business to attract and retain valuable employees.  Now, let’s look closer at four specific aspects of company culture that can be used to make it easier for hiring and staffing managers to successfully fill some of those hard-to-fill position openings.

4 Ideas for Selling Company Culture to Recruits

1. What Job Titles Say About Company Culture

Job titles are important and most have specific connotations and expectations when it comes to a candidate’s perspective. For instance:

A head of department job titled “manager” instead of “director” moves its salary range into a lower level, implies more oversight and less autonomy in decision-making than for true director roles. Likewise, a department “specialist” might actually have the same responsibilities as a department manager, especially in companies with one-man departments, but would have a lower salary range; however, specialist roles like these are often great opportunities for candidates who do not quite have enough experience or training to step into a bona fide managerial role.

In both cases, the company may be communicating that they want to pay less for the same work, may limit a candidate’s ability to propose and enact change, and may have little room for advancement. Conversely, the lower job requirements may make it possible for highly competent but under-experienced candidates to prove themselves on the job and build their own career path.

Use of traditional job titles may lead candidates to believe that the organization has a traditional hierarchy and organizational chart.

Use of non-traditional job titles may lead candidates to believe that the company has a more modern organizational structure, such as a holacracy. However, use of non-traditional job titles can also create doubt in the mind of candidates relative to where the title “fits” in the organizational structure.

Candidates expect companies in creative work or innovative industries to have creative job titles that speak to the position’s practical function or the type of individual they want to fill it. Failure to deliver on this expectation could cause candidates to worry that the corporate culture is not creative-friendly.

2. What a List of Job Duties Communicates to Candidates

If a few words found in a job title can convey that much to potential new hires, what can a whole job description do? Words mean things, and the words chosen to describe a position’s role within the organization may be the only tools the HR or staffing recruiter has to win the talent war: Make them count!

The job duties or position description used in recruiting ads should tell candidates what the employer expects, how they can succeed and what will happen when they do. As with job titles, choosing to use language that is creative, traditional, formal, casual, enthusiastic, vague, specific, boring, etc., tells the prospective new hire just as much about the corporate culture as it does the position opening.

‘Type of work’ is listed as the number one factor U.S. workers consider when making career decisions, so getting the job description to successfully persuade candidates that your organization has the type of work they are looking for is critical.

Instead of following a formula, try writing job descriptions in the voice of a “real person,” describing what needs to be done in the role on an hourly, daily, weekly, monthly and/or quarterly basis. Use what you know about building buyer personas for marketing to build “candidate personas” that describe what your ideal employee type is and describe that person in your job description’s “successful candidate will be” section.

3. Are Opportunities for Advancement on the Horizon?

For U.S. workers in every generation, the opportunities for advancement available within an organization is a top consideration in deciding where to work. Large companies may have no difficulty communicating these types of opportunities to potential new hires; however, they may not be as readily apparent in smaller companies.

Take your “candidate personas” to the next step. Tell candidates what they need to succeed in the role they take, and what will happen if they do. Opportunities for advancement aren’t just about promotions. They can also be reflected in salaries, job titles, autonomy, decision-making, educational and leadership opportunities, succession planning, and more.

4. Why Would Anyone Want to Spend 8 Hours a Day (or More) on Site?

At the end of the day you want your best employees to want to come back again! The intangibles that make your company culture special are the selling points that can be used to help paint a picture for potential new hires about what a day – week – month – or year at the company will look like.

Other employees can be a great resource when you are looking for ways to describe “why” someone should want to work at your company day in and day out. Get testimonials and consider making short videos to use on sites like YouTube and LinkedIn to help get the attention of candidates and sell them on your company culture before they’ve even sent in their resume.

The Best Merchant Services Rise Above Commodities

Much of what is sold under the heading “merchant services” is commodity based. But much of what is delivered under the banner of merchant services varies widely depending on which provider you choose.

What sets the best merchant services companies apart?

At the end of the day we have to measure our success by what we have done for you as our customer. What sets a merchant services provider apart are some of the same factors that make 253 Payment Pros one of the best merchant services companies you could work with:

  • We want to work with you forever, so we aren’t going to over-promise, under-deliver or give you a bait-and-switch experience
  • We want your referrals, so we are going to give you the best rates we can and we’re going to add value at every step from the application process to installation, setup and programming of your equipment and the service we provide over time
  • We want your success, so we are going to custom-tailor merchant services solutions to your business, instead of forcing your business into solutions that are less than ideal
  • We want your loyalty, so we are going to provide you with consistently great customer care from knowledgeable reps who know and understand the unique needs of your business

But don’t just take it from us, hear what some of our customers have to say! 

1. “We get the support we need, right when we need it.” – Powderhaus Brewing

As one of Idaho’s premier breweries, Powderhaus Brewing needs all of their processes running smoothly at all times. With our merchant services, they no longer have to worry about this side of their business. With true next day funding and the lowest processing rates in the industry, Powderhaus Brewing can rest assured knowing that they have a true partner in payment processing, with their best interests in mind.

2. “Not only do we save hundreds every month, but the service is amazing!” Bouquet Flowers

Bouquet Flowers needed a payment processing partner to trust after having been gouged on rates through her bank. Not only were we able to providing a significant savings on processing rates, but the level of local service we were able to provide brought a peace of mind previously missing from the experience. As one of the areas finest flower shops, we’re proud to be a partner in their continued growth.

3. “We save anywhere from $300 to $400 every single month.” – Extreme Pizza

Before working with us, Extreme Pizza was paying significantly higher rates for
their credit card processing while missing out on much needed service and support. Not only were we able to lower their processing rates dramatically, but we helped to streamline their delivery service by outfitting their drivers with mobile terminals, allowing them to process payments anywhere. To top it all off, they now receive the local support they had originally expected, but did not receive with their former provider.

4. “We’re on track to save thousands this year!” – Bob’s Bicycles

Bob’s Bicycles is one of Idaho’s original and most prominent bike shops, with over 30 years in business. During that time, they’ve heard all the stories when it came to payment processing, with few promises being fulfilled. We stepped in to provide Bob’s Bicycles with the lowest processing rates they’ve ever received, while also optimizing the way they take credit and debit cards, in-store and online.

Merchant Services – Industries

We offer merchant services payment processing and point of sale solutions for nearly any type of business, but we have also done some deep dives into industries that give us the ability to craft efficient, effective programs for: