How to Handle Negative Online Reviews

Your biggest goal as a restaurant owner is to leave your patrons satisfied, right? So, the first thing you can do is not give them a reason to be unsatisfied. If a customer comes to your establishment and leaves happy, there will be no negative reviews. In fact, if they are very satisfied you may even get a positive review!

Stop Them Before They Start
What else can you do to prevent bad reviews other than please them at the restaurant? Ask them to talk to you! Invite them to voice any dissatisfaction so that it’s not posted all over the internet. Let all customers know that their feedback is both wanted and valued. Seattle Pi mentions an interesting Yelp review where the owner wrote on the page and asked the people to contact him instead of writing a negative review. This way, their concerns get addressed and the owner knows what he/she needs to work on.

I know of another restaurant owner who has on their receipt footer something like this, “If you were unsatisfied for any reason at all, please email the owner directly at I respond to every email personally.” This makes the customers feel that their opinion matters. We also discuss in a previous post how to create a customer satisfaction survey.

Develop a Response Strategy
Don’t be blindsided with poor reviews; come up with a plan to manage them. Check on your reviews weekly or daily, whichever makes more sense to you. Create a Yelp business account. You can do more than just manage your account: you can advertise, input your business information and even message those who may have reviewed your business.

If you do get a negative review, try to get in contact with that person as soon as possible and see what you can do to make them happy. says that online reviews are the new word-of-mouth advertising. So, try to check as often as possible and nip it in the bud while you still can.

Search on Other Social Networks
If you aren’t doing any online marketing yet, you should start.’s blog urges  the use of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites to market your restaurant.’s blog also recommends that you set up Google Alerts to see whenever your company is mentioned on the web. While most people will be posting on sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and other review sites, you should scour social websites for information on your company.

I recommend using HootSuite to keep a close watch on your social networks. Hootsuite is a great way to look at Facebook, Twitter and other social websites simultaneously. You get a ton of features at no cost. There is also a paid pro version which offers more advanced analytics and some additional features.

Learn from Them
Don’t let repeat complaints occur. If a customer mentions something, odds are there are others who feel the same way. There may be an issue that needs to be addressed. Therefore, each time there is a bad review, resolve the issue and make sure that it never happens again. Don’t forget, your main goal is to please your patrons. If you can do that, you’ll have less to worry about when it comes to online reviews.


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