Dear Anonymous –
Social media can sometimes seem like more of a menace than a useful tool. However it is important to understand what the greatest qualities of the various platforms are and to take advantage of them to address issues like this.
Social media platforms were developed for, and thrive off of the interactions they enable. They are certainly not a one way street. It sounds like you have already taken the steps to ensure that the crux of your business is in good shape and reflects the quality of your intentions, but that should be your primary focus to start. After you are confident in your business and the service you provide to your patrons you should take the following steps to improve your image:
1. Develop a message. This message should be consistent with your brand and fully reflect the confidence you have in the culture of the restaurant, the people who work there and the food you create. It should be brief, to the point, and acknowledge the past but look to the future. No need to be defensive here; just be honest.
2. Look for ways to get your message out. Here’s where social media can become your ally once again. Take to Yelp, MenuPages.com, Google reviews, etc. and engage your patrons to distribute your message. You don’t have to engineer fake reviews or mystery shop. Remember, you are confident in your story. Positively engage reviewers and try to send them to platforms where you can control your message even more, like your Facebook page or your Twitter handle. Those platforms allow you the greatest opportunity to shape your image and show off all of the great things you have to offer your customers.
3. Don’t quit early, or even while you’re ahead. Making sure that others are aware of your brand and offering is a never-ending job. You shouldn’t only reserve time to engage the public when things go bad. After all, you are a restaurant, show how hungry you are to make your customers satisfied!
Stay engaged and stay on message. You’ve got this!