How Food Truck Owners Can Deal with Food Critics
In the mobile food industry, a bad review from a local food critic may seem devastating, but it’s never the single factor that makes or breaks a business. A bad review isn’t likely to close down your food truck any more than a good review makes it the “it” place to dine at.
If this were true, food critics would have the power to fill their cities with the types of food trucks or restaurants they personally prefer.
Food critics are critical, biased, and opinionated — that’s their job! Critics go to dining establishments searching for imperfections. Even if critics love your food, there’s a good chance they’ll point out your slightest mishaps with brutal honesty.
Every customer is a potential food critic. Professional food critics like to remain anonymous, so you may not know when one walks up to your truck. Furthermore, with the increasing popularity of online review sites, like Yelp, any customer with a smartphone or access to the Internet can become a food critic.
Good public relations strategies can convince food critics to visit your truck, but when they’re there, it’s up to you to impress them. Your work begins the moment a food critic arrives at your truck.
The best way to recognize a professional food critic is simply to keep up-to-date with the names and faces of local and regional reviewers and make sure your staff does as well. If you spot a food critic in line at your food truck, there’s no need to give him a hard time.
Instead, use it to your advantage and let him know that you’re available to fact-check information before he submits his review.
If a food critic is eating at your mobile bistro and begins to critique or complain about the food or service, accept the criticism and do what you can to fix the problem immediately. The worst thing you can do is become defensive. But if you fix the problem, you may win some points with the critic for superior customer service.
Before he leaves, ask the food critic to let you know several days in advance when the review will appear online or in print to give you enough time to prepare for a rush that could result from a positive review (plus you may want to pick up a few copies of the article for your scrapbook).
Take advantage of each review you receive from a food critic to help you modify your food truck’s food and operations. If you receive a fantastic review on a menu item, make sure all your other menu items match or exceed the quality of the item that received praise.
At the same time, take any negative reviews as learning points. If your service is criticized, look at ways to improve it as soon as possible. If a food item is cut down by a critic, make sure you get a second opinion from a chef or another food truck owner.
If you get a consensus on the bad food review, take a look at ways you can improve that item, such as the quality of ingredients or how it’s prepared.
Focus on the positive media attention you receive. Frame positive newspaper and magazine articles and display them in your truck and post them on your website.