Earlier this week Phanthong announced they’d gained the coveted position of Number 1 Restaurant in Altrincham on Tripadvisor
For a town that lists 68 restaurants in it's catchment area (i.e includes some in Hale as well as Altrincham) it was an outstanding achievement for a restaurant that at the time of writing this article have been open less than a year.
TRIPADVISOR – A BRIEF OVERVIEW
For those who aren’t aware of Tripadvisor it’s a simple website which ranks local hotels and restaurants in order of customer reviews ratings. Reviewers score restaurants based on the core areas Food, Value, Service and Atmosphere and ratings skim from Excellent to Terrible on a 5 choice sliding scale.
For hotel and restaurants it is a love / hate affair with each review, but I genuinely think the cream rises to the top with the overall reputation of the restaurant reflected in the full scope reviews given
As Lisa Chilvers from Athena Business tweeted this week “Love it or hate it, most people still use Tripadvisor when looking for a restaurant. What do the reviews say about your favourite?”
Have a look at Phanthong’s customer reviews here
But food alone didn’t get them the coveted number 1 position on Tripadvisor – an absolute attention to detail in marketing and running a business was essential
Here are 5 things they did the right way
1. Embraced the Community
On the day before the official opening they invited Altrincham community groups, local businesses and tweeters along to a VIP night to taste and sample their menu
It meant from day one the tastemakers in the local area had met the owners and were already spreading the word for a fantastic opening weekend
2. Used Social Media from day one
From that opening night they realised the power of Social Media for restaurants and are hugely active on twitter
If you look at their twitter feed on @phanthongthai you’ll see they don’t just advertise at customers – they actively engage with them and use it to get feedback from customers to further improve their customer service
And going back to point 1 – they give back to the community by sharing local community and business tweets
3. Have a website with a menu
An absolute must for any business – but you wouldn’t believe how many local businesses simply have no online contact
Being the only Thai Restaurant in Altrincham it was essential that menu’s were available online so group parties could better understand the cuisine and what Phanthong offer
4. Provide Excellent Customer Service
Food and customer service go hand in hand and the restaurant experience relies on both to truly work
Customer feedback is listened to and acted upon where possible and a prime example of this was the introduction of a kids menu after customers mentioned the need for one
5. Realised the importance of review sites
Customers don’t listen to advertorial – what they listen to is friends and family’s word of mouth, people in their social networks and also trusted review sites such as Tripadvisor
It’s clear to see the fast rise in less than a year to the Number 1 position shows an understanding of this and with so many tourists staying locally for sporting events and the Airport commute it really was an essential move
Phan from Phanthong had this to say about the past year
“What is not new is that the success of a business venture is all but guaranteed if everyone is saying good things about you (and this does not happen if you are doing things wrong or badly!) What is new is that Social Media puts ‘previously casual conversations with a few friends’ out into the open for anyone who cares to look at them and that this snapshot of your customers opinions has become THE method for many, many people to choose somewhere new. Without any scientific analysis of how we get our customers, I would say that we probably have over 30% visit us for the 1st time as a result of their use of Social Media! This is obviously a double-edged-sword as negative feedback can be especially damaging and again Social Media gives you such feedback without the embarrassment of face to face criticism from your customer. Our experience here is that you are often given a chance to respond if this is left as a private message/ tweet and that your response is then much more important than the original issue – indeed I now have several extremely loyal Customers who had suffered an innocent mistake but loved how we dealt with their issue. The private complaint being converted to public praise and a lasting positive opinion.
The other really positive thing that we have found from our regular Social Media dialogue is its local element. People are prepared to travel, say 10 miles, for the best venues and where previously they tended to gravitate to Knutsford, Hale or Alderly Edge as the established dining towns, Social Media has them looking at who is getting the most positive buzz and Altrincham itself really seems to have that buzz now. Whilst we’d really love you all to come to ‘Phanthong’, come firstly to Altrincham and see for yourself what’s going on – walk the streets and alleys to try out our Bars, Pubs and Restaurants here, we’ll all do our best to reward your visit!”
And the plans for the future are as expansive as their success in the past year
Having said all that about Altrincham, our plans for the future are to open a second Restaurant and this, obviously, cannot be in Altrincham. But it will be in Cheshire and it will retain all of our core principles of: sourcing the best local produce, turning it into the finest Thai Cuisine, add our traditional Thai hospitality and not forgetting to help rejuvenate/ contribute to whatever community we locate ourselves in. It has been the people of Altrincham who have initially given us a chance and then tweeted and reviewed us up to the No1 spot on TripAdvisor and we will again try to play our part in whatever new local community we end up in. Watch this space or just keep checking for our buzz!
For more info and menus on Phanthong look at www.phanthong.co.uk