Restaurant Ratings: Michelin Stars, Health Ratings, and More

Marketing 18 minute read 9th May 2024

There isn’t a single restaurant owner who doesn’t think about or make efforts to attract and retain customers. However, they often forget that restaurant ratings are the number one way to shape customers’ decisions.

If you have higher ratings, you’ll automatically become an attraction for customers. Therefore, good ratings can handle the first step of increasing sales, i.e., bringing in more foot traffic.

However, bad reviews have the opposite effect and can discourage customers from trying your food.

Restaurant reputation management can help with this, but you need to know how different sources of ratings work.

If you’re ready for that, this article can help. It will discuss how different star ratings work and what various sources consider.

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Why Do Ratings and Reviews Matter for Restaurants?

Ratings and reviews matter because 94% of US diners consult them before making a restaurant decision. That’s not a small number, so you’d miss out if you have more bad reviews than good ones.

Of course, you can’t control what customers say about your business. However, you can make efforts to manage online reviews and encourage more positive opinions. This will, in return, build trust among potential customers who read those reviews.

However, social proof isn’t the only reason why ratings and reviews matter for restaurants. They also provide valuable insight into customer experiences. By keeping track of your reviews, you can pinpoint what people like and dislike about your restaurant.

Besides, running a restaurant is a local business. You need to appear in local search results to attract new customers through local SEO. Google favors restaurants with good reviews and gives them top positions. Therefore, positive reviews also help with online presence.

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How Star Ratings of Restaurants Work

The star ratings of restaurants usually work on a scale of 1 to 5. Most sources also include half-star ratings, such as 1.5, 4.25, etc. How they round these ratings for display makes or breaks a restaurant’s rating.

If we talk about Yelp, it rounds off the average rating to the nearest half-star. So, if a restaurant has an average rating of 4.27, Yelp will display it as 4.5. Sometimes, this isn’t fair to other restaurants, but it’s how Yelp works. With that said, is Yelp reliable?

Yes, but most prefer that Google uses a more precise rule for rounding off. It adds increments of 0.1 until the restaurant reaches 5.

Here, a 1-star review is a bad review in which the customer didn’t like anything. 2-star reviews mean at least something was nice. 3-stars mean an average experience, while 4-stars mean everything was good.

Finally, five stars indicate everything was perfect, and the customer had an amazing experience.

Now, when people give these star ratings, the first thing they consider is the taste and presentation of their meal. If that is satisfactory, they judge the restaurant based on its customer service. They factor in the attitude of restaurant employees and staffing and the overall ambiance of the venue.

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The 4 Types of a Restaurant Rating System

Now that you know the importance of restaurant reviews, let’s explore the different types. Social media and restaurant websites aren’t the only places people turn to when they need recommendations about dining places.

In fact, there are four types of restaurant rating systems that customers consult.

To improve your ratings, you must know how these systems work. Each has its criteria and methodology.

1. User Reviews

These are the most popular types of reviews and refer to platforms like Yelp, TripAdvisor, social media, and Google restaurant reviews.

There are no particular criteria here because these are your customers’ experiences. They share what they liked and disliked, usually through a star rating of 1 to 5.

2. Expert Critics

The second type includes expert critics on platforms like the Michelin Guide and Zagat. Here, professional food critics rate restaurants based on their expertise and food standards.

Later in this article, we’ll discuss how these platforms calculate and present the reviews.

3. Health Inspection Scores

Health inspection scores are also extremely important—at least if you want to stay in business for a long time. This way, they can prove that they follow property food safety guidelines.

This is another system where health departments regularly check the venue, rating it according to hygiene and other health-related requirements.

4. Online Aggregators

The last rating systems include online aggregators. These are websites that combine reviews from various sources and provide detailed reviews. An example of an online aggregator is Zagat, which we will discuss shortly.

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3 Examples of Restaurant Ratings Systems

Even though people check online reviews before making a decision, their approach to choosing a restaurant differs from others. Some might prefer 5-star reviews on social media, while others might require the restaurant to have Michelin-Guide stars.

While most people are familiar with online reviews, there are other ratings that restaurant owners should know.

Here are three examples of restaurant rating systems that are relevant in the industry and are worth knowing.

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1. Michelin Restaurant Ratings Are the Gold Standard

Michelin restaurant ratings are famous when it comes to choosing a dining place. When customers hear that a restaurant is Michelin-starred, they immediately form a good impression.

This star rating of restaurants came out in 1926. It had a single star at that time, and two more stars came to the system in 1933.

Now, the meaning of these stars is different from that of regular ratings. Here, even a single star is good. It translates into “a very good restaurant,” while two stars translate into “excellent cooking worth a detour.” Three stars are the best, indicating “exceptional cuisine worth a special journey.”

These stars can become a reality for you if you follow a few set guidelines. The use of high-quality ingredients is the first requirement for winning a Michelin star.

Additionally, the inspector will be looking for mastery in cooking techniques, value for money, and a consistent dining experience.

Although quite subjective, you also need to develop a menu entirely different from other similar restaurants.

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2. Restaurant Health Ratings Ensure Food Safety

While the Michelin Guide is more about the taste and ingredients, restaurant health ratings consider compliance with food regulations. The governing authorities create these regulations to decrease the number of foodborne diseases and other health issues.

The main goal is to inspect hygiene, food sources, cooking temperatures, storage practices, and cleanliness. Inspectors might even conduct surprise surveys without notifying the restaurant, giving them points according to their compliance.

However, there are no stars in this rating system. Restaurant ratings report has either A, B, or C grades. A means the restaurant doesn’t violate safety rules, while B means minor violations. C is the worst grade, indicating numerous violations.

Sometimes, inspectors also explain the problem and recommend ways to improve.

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3. Zagat Restaurant Ratings Might Be Tough Yet Honest

The last restaurant rating system explanation is about Zagat. This isn’t as famous as the Michelin Guide and has lost its popularity. One of the reasons might be the constant ownership changes. But still, Zagat restaurant ratings are worth knowing.

It’s a system that collects reviews from multiple sources and then gives star ratings to the restaurants. However, it has evolved to include user ratings as well.

Back in the day, Zagat used a 1 to 30-point rating scale. A restaurant with less than 16 points meant that it wasn’t doing well, while 20 to 25 meant excellent. The ideal point range was 26 to 30.

Now that the system has changed, Zagat operates on five-star ratings. Moreover, it’s more general than the Michelin Guide and works on mass calculations.

Although, the criteria for rating is the same as that of Michelin.

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3 Places With the Best Restaurant Ratings To Gain Inspiration From

After learning about the various review sources, let’s look at some places in the US with the best restaurant ratings. We’ll also talk about the things people like so you can get an idea of what works. This helps you gain inspiration from quality restaurants and add a few things to your venue for a better business.

  1. Merois: It has an exquisite interior with a fabric draped over floor-to-ceiling glass walls, giving the illusion of a tent. Its exotic dishes from Japan, Singapore, China, etc., also complement the interior. If you scour review websites, you’ll see people raving about these things.
  2. Camphor: This Michelin-starred restaurant combines French techniques with South Asian food to create a unique menu. This is the best thing people like about this restaurant, along with its stark-white interior that creates a sleek look.
  3. Aldama: It is a restaurant in Brooklyn that creates a Mexican experience for its customers. People like its Mexican food and rusty ambiance. However, it combines modernism with rustiness, which creates a unique experience.

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Tips and Tricks To Improve Your Restaurant Rating

Staying true to our promise of helping you learn to improve your ratings, here are a few tips and tricks. How can you increase customer loyalty in your restaurant? Following these points, you can build restaurant customer loyalty, increase sales, and create a better impression.

Now, there’s no concept of loyalty without customer experience. If your visitors feel ignored or don’t get value for money, they’ll never give you a good review. Therefore, politely greet your customers as soon as they enter your restaurant. Plus, don’t make them wait for their food.

Outside of the experience provided by your restaurant bar, or venue, focus on managing your reviews. Respond to both negative and positive opinions that your customers leave. Show gratitude for positive reviews while apologizing for the negative ones. It’s also crucial to solve customer problems with composure.

Another way to improve your reputation is to encourage more reviews but never force customers to review your restaurant. This process can be time-consuming, so automating getting reviews can be useful for growing your rating.

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Get New Customers and More Sales With Reputation Management

Restaurant ratings can encourage or discourage customers from visiting your venue. These reviews benefit other customers but also expose your business’s weaknesses. Paying attention to those insights and making the necessary changes can help you increase your profit tenfold. To grow your business, you must get regular reviews on local review sites. If you want to automate this process, try out Beambox.

It is a WiFi marketing platform that helps you get more positive reviews and prevent negative ones from going online. With Beambox, you can also manage your online reputation from one dashboard. Start your free trial now!

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