TextBack Case Study: Driving Big Reviews For A Small Restaurant

Textback SMS restaurant feedback and reviews
The TextBack call to action sits on every table top and at the front counter.

I am a sucker for a good diner with an all day breakfast and a great lunch. Any place that hand presses their burgers, cuts their own fries and calls me “hon” despite the fact that they don’t know me, is high on my list of favorites. The Spot 2 Be Restaurant just south of Olean, NY is one of those spots. The fact that you can get gravy on the fries is an added benefit.

mis spelled lunch sign - lucnh
Having received a “Lucnh” sign that was misspelled, they got a replacement. But they still use this misspelled sign as folks driving feel compelled to stop in and alert her, giving her a chance to show them her menu. 🙂

They opened in May of 2018 serving just breakfast and lunch. When I saw that they had a Facebook only presence I offered up a Google My Business listing and a GMB website to help them along. I was curious how the two setups would compare in terms of sending them new customers. The details of that research is a topic for another post. 

Tam Basilio, the owner, soon learned how to do Google Posts. She has a great eye and has taken some luscious photos of their food for posting. In October I helped them add their menu to the Google website and their Google Business Profile (previously known as the Knowledge Panel). 

You can see the TextBack table tent just beyond MY grilled chicken sandwich.

They are a small, homey restaurant with 9 tables and a small, 5 seat counter. A typical day’s breakfast is likely serving up 20 or so meals. A typical lunch at The Spot 2 Be has a similar volume of diners.

They work hard, are open on weekends, serve brunch on the weekends and make homemade desserts. But there is a limit to the number of folks that can and do eat there for any given meal. 

Even for the smallest of restaurants, online reviews are an important marketing tool to attract new customers. So while they had gotten some online reviews, I was hoping to test the impact of reviews on Google in terms of expanding their reach in search. The Spot 2 Be Restaurant depended on the low, natural flow of reviews and had no easy mechanism to ask for more. 

Easy Review Acquisition With Text

With no real ability to garner email addresses or phone numbers from their clients and a relatively low daily volume, it seemed the perfect environment to test GatherUp’s TextBack feature to generate more reviews. TextBack is an inbound SMS channel to get more 1st-party and 3rd-party reviews by allowing customers to self-activate feedback right from their phone. In January, we gave The Spot 2 Be a beta test account of GatherUp and TextBack and we added tabletop signage to encourage diners to leave feedback and a review. 

What Does The Business Owner Think?

I wanted to get Tam Basilio’s point of view of this and she shared these comments with me:

“It’s scary and overwhelming to start a business. We’ve been open 13 months and the biggest struggle is trying to read when people will be in and understand when it will be busy and when it will not. We’re learning that the seasons make a big impact. But now that it’s taking off it’s very rewarding.

The reviews we’ve gained by using GatherUp are most definitely a part of our success. A lot of people are reading the reviews that are being left by customers who have seen the table tops and we know that because we’re getting a lot of hits to our Google My Business profile.

With all the reviews we’re getting we’ve achieved a rating of 4.8. It’s the highest rating in town and it’s getting people who search to come in from as far away as Ontario (a 2-3 hour drive).”

tam Basilio restaurant owner
Tam likes the fact that TextBack is an easy win for her business to learn about their customer.

“I’ve enjoyed using TextBack to get reviews. I get a little more feedback on how people feel about us and it’s really easy for the customer. Customers can’t miss the signage that’s right in the middle of their table and I simply ask people to go on and leave a review. They don’t seem to mind it and the results have been fantastic.

From the reviews, I’ve learned that people are enjoying themselves. They don’t just find it a place to eat, they find it a place to have fun. Like a family. I really enjoy being able to interact directly with my customers. It’s a one-click process.”

Increasing Review Acquisition By 3X 

In the first 8 months of being open, the restaurant had garnered nine Google reviews, three Facebook reviews and four Facebook Recommendations for an average of 2 reviews/recommendations per month. Some of the early reviews were from Tam’s set of friends so the actual rate might have been just a touch lower.

Prior to using GatherUp, The Spot 2 Be accumulated 12 total reviews (including friends and family) in 8 months. This report is for the period of May 8th (when they opened) to Jan 7th (when they started using Textback).

In the almost 5 months since the signage was added on the table, The Spot 2 Be has received 31 reviews/recommendations including 18 at Google, four at Facebook, and nine of her own 1st-party reviews for a new rate of 6 per month. She has also established an NPS Score of 100. 

NPS and review statistics for The Spot 2 Be while using TextBack by GatherUp. This report, from Jan. 8th through June 5th, covers the period when they were using TextBack

Driving new online reviews at a 3X rate of acquisition each month is a big lift for this small restaurant. Over the next 12 months, the potential difference of generating 90 reviews versus 25 can have a big impact on a small business. That regular, on-going volume conveys a high level of social proof to potential first-time customers.

The Spot 2 Be earned 40 total reviews and 9 Facebook Recommendations in under 18 months with the help of GatherUp. This reflects total reviews/recommendations since the business was opened, a little over a year ago.

Equally important is the fact that Tam and The Spot 2 Be have started the beginnings of a customer email list that should be able to provide a solid foundation in the future for additional outreach. She is also learning what parts of her dining experience strike home with her customers.

TextBack can help any business capture real-time feedback and reviews from their customers. For restaurants that are in a selling environment where it is difficult to get a customer’s email or phone number, like The Spot 2 Be, it offers an elegant feedback and review solution.

About The Author

Mike Blumenthal is a co-founder of GatherUp and helps oversee our research, industry insight and agency offering. Mike has long been regarded as the foremost expert on local search and Google Maps, earning the nickname “Professor Maps”. Mike also co-founded Local University, which provides small business and agency training in sustainable local search marketing. His motto: All Local All the Time.  He writes at his blog and does a twice a week LocalU podcast about Local marketing. 

2 Replies to “TextBack Case Study: Driving Big Reviews For A Small Restaurant”

    1. It is hard for restaurants to get an email list going. Certainly TextBack with GatherUp is one way… the server, when the bill is delivered could make an ask for feedback and provide the TextBack URL with the bill.

      Using Textback, they are able to capture email addresses of their clients in the GatherUp dashboard. With Zapier we or a file export those can easily be moved in an email program like Mail Chimp.

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