April 25 2014 – Robert Fiumara
You’re a chef. You demand the best from yourself and your kitchen staff. You want to make sure your food is perfect, regardless of whether you’re cooking a delicious risotto or a standout meat dish.
Whether you feel as if you were born a chef or you ended up in the profession through life's many twists and turns, one thing is for sure: if you are not managing quality control and keeping an eye on your reputation, no one else will do it for you.
Understanding Social Media
Particularly in tough economic times customers want to know they’re getting the most bang for their buck. Diners tend to get angrier than ever these days if their dishes aren’t perfect, if customer service isn't the best and if they feel they're not getting their money’s worth. 10 years ago, angry customers would tell their friends about a bad experience and diners would slowly stop patronizing your establishment.
Things aren’t too different these days -problem is, sites like yelp.com, Google reviews, Urban Spoon and similar sites give customers the opportunity to put you on blast within a few hours or event minutes after a bad visit.
Typically, managers and restaurant owners are in charge of doing damage control. However, as a chef there are some empowering actions you can take to ensure that a customer who had a bad visit will be back to your establishment. This is particularly important for chefs who have their names on the menu or on the restaurant, and who are seen as a guiding force in the business’ culinary offerings.
How to Make it Right
Your first step is to keep an eye on your restaurant’s reviews. You can go to http://alerts.google.com to set up an alert that will let you know when your restaurant is in the news, and you can spend time watching social media sites like Yelp and Urban Spoon to see if people are talking about you. If you see a bad review or negative opinion from a long-time customer, coming out to speak to that customer and taking care of them personally during their next visit can be a boon to your reputation.
If you see a bad review from a customer you’ve never met before, get together with your manager or owner to talk about whether or not this is a fluke, if you’re dealing with a customer who just isn't the right match for your restaurant, or if you should work with a manager to take immediate action.
No one is as interested in safeguarding your professional reputation as you are - it's extremely important for you to make sure the way you’re seen is accurate and reflects your professionalism. Don't wait until it's too late to see what your customers are saying about your food and their experience in your restaurant.