July 09, 2015 // Franchising.com // Huntington Beach, CA - Slapfish Chef, Andrew Gruel, and Slapfish West Coast Director of Ops, Anthony Dispensa, star in a new show on FYI allowing restaurateurs to respond to online critics. The show’s premise revolves around the significance online reviews can have in today’s restaurant industry, and how to manage and respond to negative feedback.
One quote from the show says, “Today people judge your restaurant before they ever walk in the door. They won’t give you a chance unless you have amazing online reviews”
As a restaurant owner, Gruel understands the importance of review sites like Yelp and is an expert at harnessing their power. He is personally on these sites daily, responding to both positive and negative critics. His expertise on these platforms, as well as in launching a successful international restaurant chain, made him an easy choice as the network’s resident go-to on the topic.
“I personally respond to each and every online review we get – positive or negative – with an individualized response,” says Gruel. “And I know, that might sound excessive or just plain crazy. I agree, it is kind of crazy! But that is how much you have to CARE – because it will directly impact your bottom line.”
His advice is to measure everything you can, and share data that shows how digital customer service impacts sales. “As CEOs, Founders and VPs, we have to check in regularly to see how we’re performing in these digital spaces - what are our customers saying and how are we responding? Look out for topics that dominate the online discussion, identify departments that can be utilized to address recurring issues (marketing, operations, etc.), and also let teams know when they are receiving great feedback!”
Say It To My Face!, which premiered on Saturday May 9 and has been picked up for a total of 14 more episodes on the FYI Network, allows chefs and restaurant owners who are struggling from poor online reviews to not only address their critics face-to-face (hence the show’s title), but also benefit from Andrew and Anthony’s know-how in an attempt to repair their online reputation.
Although many higher level restaurant owners and CEOs don’t have the time to invest in responding to online reviews, Gruel says that a monthly personal Yelp response from the CEO / Founder / Chef makes a huge impression. “Respond to something positive with thanks, or something negative with thanks for pointing out how we can do better… ‘The customer comes first’ age-old business mantra has totally different meaning in 2015 and beyond. You have to serve your customer in your restaurant, online, on social media, and on mobile. You are constantly connected to them, and customers vote with their wallets. That is how much you have to care.”
Slapfish is a classic and sustainable American Seafood Franchise - seafood redefined with a fresh attitude, simple flavors and a healthy smack of the gourmet. Slapfish has created a distinct brand that revolves around great “boat-to-plate” cuisine in a casual, relaxed setting. Chef Gruel’s menu revolves around a variety of daily and seasonally changing features and his ocean-fresh menu emphasizes bibb-worthy dishes and bold flavors, with seafood sourced from well-managed suppliers of eco-friendly seafood. The brand is expanding through corporate growth and franchising, and has locations planned for 2015 throughout California, as well as in Dubai and the LAX and BWI Airports.