In the food truck industry referrals are the number one resource that prospective customers seek out. Do you know what your food truck’s online reputation is? Your food truck’s online reputation starts with family or a friend, but the online world has definitely broadened what a referral  means. If somebody sees enough positive reviews for a food truck, that helps people validate where they should go for lunch or dinner.

The opposite also holds true. For many food trucks reputation management includes not just tracking positive news, but also guarding against the negative. These days, feedback on sites like Yelp! and Google+ can make a big difference to a food truck business.

If you own a food truck, there’s no way around it: You need to follow general and industry specific review sites (Yelp, Food Truck Reviewz). These are front-row seats to what your customers are saying about you specifically. That’s really valuable insight into customer perception, issues you may need to resolve, and even things you are doing well.

Tracking Your Online Reputation

Buzz Builders

While ethics prohibits filling a site with positive reviews, it is still possible to build up one’s online reputation. Food truck owners should encourage their satisfied customers to make their opinions known with gentle urging of their online feedback, without putting any pressure on them.

Every food truck should be actively asking customers to share accurate, honest feedback on review sites. Not every review will be positive, but your results will normalize over time, meaning the positive and negative reviews will come into a balance that reflects the reality of who you are offline. If you’re a good business, your reviews will reflect that. If you have some areas for improvement, reviews are your opportunity to pick up your game.

Coping with Criticism

The occasional negative review is almost inevitable. What matters with your online reputation is how you choose to respond. While no food truck is perfect, if you are willing to admit your mistake and correct it as best as you can you can earn new customers.

  • Don’t be afraid to reply online. On sites that allow responses, food truck owners have the chance to show the world that they’re on their game. They can post in detail their actions in dealing with the issue, demonstrating that they are ready and willing to step up when things go wrong.
  • Speaking offline. Where a public response isn’t possible, successful business owners will make personal contact, talking through the problem to ensure the patron reaches a satisfactory resolution.
  • Be courteous and professional. Acknowledge the problem and the customer’s feelings: It’s important, in most cases, to make sure the customer knows you understand their perspective. It’s also worth noting that in some cases, it will be clear that a customer is totally unreasonable or unwilling to work with you. In these extreme cases, it’s better not to engage at all.

RELATED: Hidden Food Costs Can Kill Your Food Truck Profits

Do you have any additional tips to tracking your food truck’s online reputation? Share your ideas in the comment section below or on social media. Facebook | Twitter