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  • Writer's pictureRachel S

The Merchynt Business Review: JINYA Ramen Bar

Welcome to The Merchynt Business Review, where we analyze a small business's online reviews to find ways they can win customers from their competitors and grow their business faster. Give us 5 minutes and we'll show you how to increase your small business' revenue by 5-9%.

This week's featured small business: Jinya Ramen Bar Santa Monica

About them: Jinya Ramen Bar (Jinya) is a ramen bar located in the main street area of touristy Santa Monica. Jinya offers tourists and locals a variety of ramen bowls and the expected sides for a ramen restaurant.

Current online customer reviews: 4.4/5 on Google & 4.5/5 on TripAdvisor.

To start, let's have a look at their overall customer satisfaction score, which is a moving average of what their customers are saying about them in written reviews across various online review platforms, like Google, Yelp, Facebook, TripAdvisor, and others.

Right off the bat, you're going to notice that their customer satisfaction is down over the last 12 months by almost 8%. That's not terrible, and given ramen is particularly challenging to do delivery style (which is the case currently due to COVID) their competitors are likely not faring any better. This may just hurt the ramen category in general during COVID, resulting in customers choosing different restaurant types until they can go back to eating at restaurants.

Next, we'll run an analysis on all reviews from the past 12 months and assess customer satisfaction against industry-specific key performance indicators (KPIs) to see what exactly is bothering customers. A quick view of the graph below tells us that:

1. It's exactly as suspected. Food quality ratings have been slipping throughout the year, getting worse in August and remaining under 80% satisfaction to this day. This is either likely due to the fact that ramen is tough to deliver and taste as good as it would in the restaurant, or that the restaurant is trying to save some money and is skimping on portions or quality ingredients. Here's a recent review from Kuminko Nagano in support of this:

2. Throughout the year, their "cost" only had a 20% satisfaction score, which is pretty poor. But in an expensive city like Los Angeles, where you cannot get a bowl of ramen for much under $20, this is somewhat expected.

Now, let's have a look to see how their reviews stack up against their competitors: Killer Noodle Tsujita, Daikokuya, & Silverlake Ramen. As you can see below, it's a tight race between these 3 Santa Monica & Los Angeles ramen titans! Note, we're focusing only on TripAdvisor, Facebook, & Google in this review.

These 4 restaurants are all highly admired, with Killer Noodle arguably the most loved, and Silverlake Ramen the least based on their reviews. The race to become the hottest ramen spot in Los Angeles is tight. Let's dive deeper and see what Los Angelinos like and dislike in particular about each competitor.

Across the board it seems that each ramen spot in Los Angeles is doing a great job with their food and place, so let's focus on what they're not doing well with. For Jinya, there's some issues with chicken. For Killer Noodle, it's rude waiters. For Daikokuya, is pork and service. For Silverlake ramen, it's the overall experience, service, and tofu. If these ramen spots want to get better reviews they'll want to focus on improving these areas since they're the only differentiators between them and their competitors that we're seeing in their reviews.

It's been a tough past few months for all ramen restaurants, so let's see how each's customer satisfaction scores have trended to see if any handled COVID better than the others.

Wow! Look at Silverlake Ramen coming back from the grave to start delivering amazing satisfaction. As expected, the beginning of the year was turbulent for all of these ramen spots, and entering December they're all getting high 80's for general satisfaction scores. Great to see them stabilize their businesses during these tough times.

Silverlake started from the bottom and now they're in 2nd place

Killer Noodle had a turbulent year, dropping from 1st place to last in Q1 & Q3, then clawed it's way to 2nd to last in December.

Daikokuya struggled at the beginning of COVID then stayed fairly consistent from May - December.

Takeaways for Jinya Ramen:

  1. Your competitors all struggle with providing great service. If you focus on this you'll start winning more customers, since you do it well already.

  2. By scanning your reviews, it seems that you only respond to a very few % of your reviews, and only the bad ones. If you respond to more you'll get rewarded by the review platforms.

  3. You got many reviews from January - March then very little for the rest of the year. You want to find ways to engage with your customers even if they cannot visit your restaurant in person. It's important to keep getting more reviews, even if you already have a bunch.

Their review assessment: Their overall review score is great. They're providing a great meal at a high satisfaction score, have no real weaknesses against their competition, and all of this during a very challenging time.

Estimated outcome if the above recommendations are done

Based on a Harvard Business School survey, a single star increase in online customer reviews can result in a 5-9% increase in gross revenue, specifically for a small business operator. If their annual revenue is $2,500,000, and they can raise their 4.4 stars on Google to 4.9 we estimate that they can increase their revenue by 3%, or $75,000 per year.


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