The critics

(31 /05 /2016)

Everyone is a critic. There are professional critics and everyday social media critics. We love the critics who give us five stars and glowing reviews. As for the critics that give us one star because their wife didn’t like the shade of blue on the walls, well lets just call them the critters and remind ourselves that while they are entitled to an opinion, we can’t let them bring us down.

Obviously as a hospitality business owner or manager you want your venue and product reviewed, have people talking about it and spreading the word in a good way.

I’m constantly surprised at how many businesses don’t send the time preparing staff for professional and everyday reviewers.

Earlier this year John Lethlean from the Weekend Australian wrote a scathing review about the fine dining restaurant Hill of Grace.

Here are a few of the quotes from the review:

“Bland, lifeless, beige-on-beige … it’s like the function room your sister was married in 16 years ago,” said John to described the venue.

“Lingering empty plates and glasses, four waiters idling at the pass,” said John about the service. He was also highly annoyed not to be farewelled on departure.

“If you’re wondering what this brown mucoid gloop is it’s the Hill of Grace duck sausage with pig liver sauce. It’s not ok,” John’s Instagram post.

Brutal review. Let’s break this down a bit. I have worked in many venues where due to landlords and/or heritage listing you are unable to modify the venue. This may or may not be the case here, however I don’t believe the reviewer would have been so ruthless about the setting if the wait-staff and food were on their A-game.

As part of staff communications and meetings you need to be clear about how you want your product talked about and presented. This includes being clear that customers are not your friends and won’t respond well to flippant comments. Wait staff need to be profession and you need a good floor manager to get them motivated. Remind your staff that customers are more likely to give great tips with professional service than casual service – that will help motivate them!

At the entrance or behind the bar you should consider having the major food critics’ photos and names printed out and stuck up. All your wait staff should know who they are! Yes it is a little like a criminal ‘wanted poster’ however the damage of a bad review from significant critic can seriously affect your business. I have done this in many restaurants and it has worked a treat. No, you don’t suddenly start calling them by their first name and showing them their picture that you have stuck on the till. Instead it is a way to make sure you can get everyone on board so that when a critic arrives you give them the best experience so you can get the most out of the potential marketing of a good review.

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