Last week I reentered the FohBoh Blogsphere with this post in a somewhat disguised attempt to elicit operator feedback about the value to the industry of the services provided by two companies:  Open Table (already public) and Groupon (filed to go public).  Rather than open a "Pandora's Box"  (I promise my last attempt to be cute) and somehow relate yesterday's IPO of internet radio pioneer Pandora to our industry let me get straight to the point.   It's my belief after several decades in Silicon Valley that investors who buy these IPO's buy on the perception that customer value is real and in some sense will grow exponentially and perhaps forever.   The long-term business risks are unknown, the profit drivers volatile and the valuation models extreme.


In contrast, the restaurant industry relies on customer satisfaction to build traffic and to provide insight into needed changes in operations.  Restaurant customer feedback comes from traditional sources like comment cards, secret shopper reports or more recently and relevantly on the social web:  FaceBook, Twitter, FourSquare, Yelp, and a list of other sites a mile long.  Our expertise at FohBoh includes an ability to harvest, analyze and recommend action based on near-real-time customer feedback.


However, the real point of this (and last week's) post is to focus on online service providers who focus on the restaurant industry--starting with Open Table and Groupon.   Our members can and should be the sounding board as to how well these companies are delivering on their promise.  We believe that the same tools that serve our members (the social web) should be available to service providers in the industry.  So let's begin the conversation!


For Open Table

  • Does the service bring new and repeat business?
  • Is the service fairly priced--both per reservation and monthly serviced?
  • Is the company easy to do business with?
  • Are there real competitors?
  • Are you a loyal customer?



For Groupon

  • Does the service bring new business?
  • Do loyal customers take advantage of the deals?
  • How are the "deals" structured--does the sales rep help guide you through the process?
  • Is the company easy to do business with?
  • Are there better deal channels?
  • Will you continue to offer "Groupons"?



Inquiring Minds Want to Know!!!



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