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Yelp Reviews and Your Restaurant: Battling the Bad

Did a recent bad Yelp review crush your soul? Don’t let it. These things happen. It’s okay.

More so than any small business, restaurants are generally the most prone to bad Yelp reviews; there are just so many things to comment on from a customer perspective. Things such as service, wait times, prices, the food, the drinks and even the décor of the space can cause a bad review. Even if one of these things don’t meet the customer’s expectations, you may be in for a lukewarm or even bad review.

Unfair? Maybe. The way it is? Absolutely.

As a restaurant owner, you must do your due diligence in order to weather the storm in order to prevent negative reviews from affecting your business. Look, these things are going to happen. In some cases, there isn’t much you can do. Every once in a while you may see a rogue poor review in an otherwise sea of positive ones, but if the bad ones begin to pile up, you may have a problem. Persistent negative reviews can have lasting implications on your restaurant, whether it’s in regards to your reputation or your ability to secure a restaurant loan.

If you’re worried about some bad reviews, here are some tips:

Don’t go crazy: Sure, some reviews may be totally off-base and will make you want to pull your hair out. “Really? They complained about THAT?” May be one of the first things that go through your mind. But the best thing to do is to take a deep breath, consider all the angles and think about it from the customer’s point of view. The last thing you want to do as a business owner is get vindictive what one individual said about your service or food.

Respond: Yes, you can respond to Yelp reviews—good or bad. When someone leaves a less than stellar review, it won’t hurt to respond and let them know you’re sorry if they didn’t have a memorable time at your restaurant. For instance, let’s say a customer complains that their order was wrong and subsequently the wrong order was then reflected on the bill. What you could do is respond to the customer’s complaint, alert them that the appropriate measures have been taken and that the issue will never happen again. Also, throwing in an app or drink for the next time they visit wouldn’t hurt, either!

Correct the complaint: Not all Yelp reviews are steeped in unjustified and grumbling grievances. In a lot of cases, a negative review will actually contain fair and valid criticism which may lead to a rude awakening for you as a restaurant owner. When you feel that a complaint is warranted, you should fix the problem immediately without any hesitation. For example, let’s say a customer complained about an undercooked dish or had a hair on their plate. Without Yelp, these issues may have never been brought to your attention in the first place and allows you to make your restaurant better overall.

Remember: A bad Yelp review is not the end of the world. Just do your best to manage the review and take the needed steps to improve your restaurant.