Berkeley Study: Half-Star Change In Yelp Rating Can Make Or Break A Restaurant | TechCrunch
Eric Barker stashed this in Marketing
Anyone can print this out and proudly display it:
We are proud to be hated by Yelp.
This pisses me off more than I could ever communicate in a comment.
Honestly, I've seen more local merchants stress out about their Yelp reviews (and star rating) than any other part of their business. I don't believe the people that review these local businesses, with their extremely harsh comments at times, understand just how much of an effect they can have on the livelihood of some of the local merchants.
I've spoken to well of 100 local merchants in my area. I've found that these people work absurd hours! You think a startup founder works a lot?
Let's take a new cafe owner, for example:
- She opens at 7:00am (the commuter rush).
- She closes at 10pm or maybe even 11:30pm (near a big campus like Cal Berkeley).
- She'll be open 7 days a week.
- She'll have cashed in her retirement fund to get this off the ground.
- She'll have planned to live off of her life savings for the next year to get this going.
- She'll have about $30k to $50k open on credit cards for the unexpected costs (if she's planned well).
- She won't have any employees, or maybe have 1 part-time employee. Employees can be a massive cost not only in dollars but poor customer experience (i.e. shitty yelp reviews).
- She's their 100% of the time.
- She'll have ZERO clue, and time, on how to market/advertise her local business (in any sort of cost effective way).
- She's been told that she MUST get on Facebook (and increase her likes), Tweet everyday, and get awesome Yelp reviews. Yet, this is extremely difficult and time consuming to a non-technical new business owner.
- She does not yet realize that social media marketing rarely (if ever) drives any significant new foot traffic through her doors. She just gets more Facebook Likes (sweet!)
This scenario is not uncommon, in fact, I would say is pretty much the norm in my area.
So what happens next? Yelp comes swooping in with their sales force and pitches the merchant:
"I see you've started getting reviews! That's wonderful. If you start spending $300 per month with us you can advertise your business on Yelp. Meaning your listing will bubble up to the top of the search results. If you spend $1,000 per month we'll give you more control over the reviews that are listed for your business."
I've been told this is the pitch, many times, by many different merchants (as well some ex-sales people at Yelp) in my area.
What is a local merchant to do when they've invested EVERYTHING into this business? Yelp's got them by the balls, and honestly, I see a lot of them cave in with a 3 to 12 month contract. They have a far-fetched hope that this will help them out. And it rarely (if ever) does...
I understand your outrage.
My Yelp score is so low (1.5 stars out of 5) that Yelp doesn't even try to shake me down.
My Yelp's so bad, when you Google "people hate us on Yelp" you find Pizza and Pipes.
I laugh it off but most business owners feel deeply hurt.