This past week I gave a lecture to a group of Innkeepers and Restaurateurs in Maine on Reputation Management. With all the numerous posts and information out there about protecting your business online from malicious reviews or reviews by unhappy customers, little thought is sometimes given to two other areas.
One, what is your local chamber or business association saying about you offline. and two, what are your employees saying about you online?
What are your employees saying about you online?............... Do you really want to know? Yes.
For this lecture I found two employees on twitter making comments about their workplace and about guests, one identified directly where they worked. Imagine if a potential or repeat customer saw something online? Heaven help the restaurant where an employee posts something like, "Just saw rats in the basement at the Jane Doe Restaurant," and then it gets picked up by someone and RTed (Retweeted or passed along) by someone with a bunch of followers. Or seen by the health inspector.
While you probably don't want to directly follow employees on twitter, you can put them on private lists so they don't know you are "following" them so to speak.
Facebook is another area where you should be monitoring, if possible, what is said online. While it's definitely not kosher to ask for employee's user names and passwords, the majority of people do not lock down their personal information, photos and wall.
Once you are logged into Facebook, you can see about 80% of what's posted online. I am not suggesting you stalk your employees, but if you have a potential problem child in your employ, it doesn't hurt to be careful.
What you don't want is another Damian Cardone on your hands. If you have not ever heard of Damian, just Google him, not very hard to find out what the issue was. The sad after effects of this were that the restaurant he worked at suffered because of it, and ended up having dozens and dozens of negative reviews posted about the situation, many by people who had never even eaten there.
If your restaurant or facility belongs to a chamber of commerce, do you even know if they are recommending you?
I gave two examples in my lecture on this topic. Last year an inn and restaurant I work with up in New Hampshire, had recently seen his phone referrals drop significantly in the past months. He was curious to find out why. I ended up making about 7 calls to the chamber office during different times of the day and different days of the week and spoke to several different people. (I do great accents). None of them recommended either the inn or the restaurant, even when pushed on the matter. They recommended his direct competition (one a chamber member and one not) on all enquires.
It turns out the inn and restaurant in question had been kind of a pain in the tuckus to the executive director, asking about why the chamber doesn't do this and why they should be doing this and why are they not. So the place got blackballed.
The other example I used, was an inn that somehow, a rumor got started that the couple running it was breaking up, and the inn would be going up for sale. Neither of which was true, but the local chamber office was telling people who called, "Oh lovely inn, great hosts, but I hear they are having some issues there and may not be around for long". Way to kill reservations methinks?
Do you really know what your local chamber is saying about you?........ Even if you are not a chamber member, people do still ask and want feedback. I know this for a fact having volunteered part time in one of my local chamber offices for several years.
Reputation management goes beyond just social media, including to vendors. A wise business listens and needs to find out for themselves what's being said about them, because if an issue happens and you only hear about it 3 months later, it's generally to late to put out the fire.