Cunningham Restaurant Group (CRG) opened its first restaurant, Boulder Creek, in 1997 when Mike Cunningham decided to take the lessons learned from his successful restaurant career to his own venture. Today, Cunningham Restaurant Group owns and operates 34 restaurants and 15 different brands in three states.
Before Birdeye, CRG had no easy way to manage their online reputation. Instead, their staff handled all reputation and guest communications manually, which involved the time-consuming task of scouring the internet for reviews and following up with customers.
CRG knew the importance of having an excellent brand reputation online and started looking for a solution to centralize these tasks so they could dig into their guest sentiments so they could address and improve any experiences.
"Reviews, a proactive review management strategy, and accurate restaurant listings are the pillars of our SEO strategy. Birdeye helps us with all three, and our teams realizing the impact of that. We have had multiple instances of negative reviews being re-posted as positive because of our team responding!"
Online reviews are the best–not to mention free–form of advertising. In fact, 93% of people view online reviews before making a decision.
With Birdeye, CRG has visibility into all their restaurant ratings in one centralized dashboard. Individual region managers can see their reputation and quickly implement improvements when necessary. At the corporate level, CRG staff can see how everyone is performing and how everyone is tracking.
Restaurants have always been focused on building ongoing relationships and providing an experience where guests come back again and again. It’s important they were able to look at those experiences at scale.
There is massive consumer input on brands online today, so CRG knew they had to have a scalable way to manage their guest experiences across their locations. The first step in this process is helping customers find you online–and that your information is always accurate and up-to-date.
CRG uses Birdeye Listings to stay on top of their local SEO and ensure that critical business information is accurate across locations like specialty hamburger restaurant, Bru Bar. Over COVID, CRG was able to build all their listing updates to every single source so it was accurate and consistent across the board. They were able to make sure every one of their restaurants had accurate information online.
But CRG doesn’t just stop there: they soon realized that Google gives preference to businesses based on how responsive a business is to their reviews, in addition to their review results. In other words, reviews are critical and consistency in review management is key.
In the last six months, restaurants have had a 49% increase in the amount of feedback they received from review sites–simply by implementing a review management strategy with the help of Birdeye. CRG expects managers to respond within 24 hours, because anything beyond that loses the impact of the review cycle. In the event of a negative review, CRG’s policy is to diffuse it and make the situation right with the customer right away.
Customer experience doesn’t stop after the meal: responding to reviews helps foster a positive relationship with the customer–and may even motivate them to come back!
Restaurant managers have access to Birdeye on their phones so the managers can see all incoming reviews right away. Managers even get alerts while the guest is still in the restaurant, allowing them to respond immediately!
To keep the experience personal, the restaurant team responds themselves. At the corporate level, CRG looks at reporting to see trends across their 34 locations. As new reviews come in, the corporate team creates and assigns a ticket to the appropriate team member through Birdeye, so they respond in a timely manner.
With so many locations, Birdeye allows CRG to have insight into all the reviews and comments on their restaurants so they can see trends. In this way, they can stay on top of what guests want. This reporting and analysis has been a great resource for CRG culinary teams, who have changed the menu based on customer feedback and reviews!
During COVID, CRG had to adapt quickly. Since they operate in several states and markets, each county and city had their own regulations in place, which in some instances, changed daily. Birdeye allowed CRG to be nimble enough to respond and adjust to new regulations regarding capacity, new sanitation guidelines, and more at scale with listings.
According to Carissa Newton, Director of Marketing, CRG, “We simply couldn’t have done it without Birdeye. I didn’t have a huge team to manage this. Having a partner like Birdeye made this such a smooth process. We were able to have a good, solid ability to inform guests and keep them coming back to visit us.”
Hospitality is sometimes slow to adopt technology, but the ability to publish hours and menus and information is a critical one instantly helped CRG greatly. Working with a leaner staff, it was so important to have a good strategy that could help them through these uncertain and changing times.
The hospitality industry has changed forever and Birdeye has helped CRG respond to the times accordingly. Birdeye technology and innovation has helped them not only strive, but thrive by connecting with their customers intimately!