Managing risk as a restaurant owner is no easy feat. In addition to worrying about kitchen and dining room safety, restaurant owners need to juggle inventory orders, staff schedules, and often tight financial margins.
Now, according to Bloomberg News, there's one more risk to consider: review websites like Yelp are starting to give include your health grades in their online restaurant reviews.
The good news is that, at the moment, only San Francisco Yelp listings will include health grades, but other cities like New York City and Philadelphia will soon follow suit. It's only a matter of time before all Yelp listings in major cities will include health grades.
Managing Risk in the Age of Open Data
Risk management for restaurant owners is already tricky, but in addition to thinking about insurance needs, they'll now have to assume your customers know how the health department evaluated you – without necessarily knowing what your grade means. Many restaurant owners have seen genuinely well-run establishments ruined by mediocre health grades.
So how should you approach this risk new risk? It starts with earning excellent health grades.
A smart way to do this is to treat health grades like any other source of risk:
- Establish a top-down approach for managing your health grade. Earning exemplary health grades must be a priority for all of your employees. Your front-of-the-house and back-of-the-house staff have to take ownership of the health issue, especially if your restaurant is trying to raise a less-than-perfect grade.
- Handle incidents immediately to mitigate damages. Suppose a server has a bad night and makes a mistake, or a line cook forgets which of the three ribeyes on his grill should be medium instead of medium-rare. Excellent customer service can turn such incidents from online review disasters to opportunities to win loyal fans.
- Spend time training your staff in excellent customer service. Why? For the same reason doctors often carry Malpractice Insurance: even if you impress 99 out of 100 customers, the one who falls between the cracks can take their bad experience to the Internet and blast your reputation on websites like Yelp. A plan for handling unhappy customers can help prevent negative online chatter.