Using Yelp to increase sales

If you own a retail store or restaurant, Yelp can help you increase sales. However, Yelp is a double edged sword. Sometimes it hurts businesses more than it helps. This article will teach you everything you need to know to use Yelp to your advantage.

First of all, what is Yelp? Yelp is the best known business rating website. This social media tool tries to connect people to great local businesses. It does this by allowing its members - yelpers - to rate local businesses on a 1 to 5 star scale. The best rating a local retail store or restaurant can get is 5 stars. The worst if 1 star. After a while, the best businesses start becoming apparent - they are the ones that have high rankings and have also been ranked numerous times.

Additionally, members of yelp can leave written reviews. This is where it gets interesting. A lot of times, if someone feels that they have been slighted by a retail establishment, they can rate the business a 1 star and explain why they are rating the business so poorly. These negative reviews are what many business owners detest because they feel that the statements were unwarranted. Additionally since these ratings will stay around forever due to the internet, many business owners are upset because they feel that those negative statements will hamper business forever.

An example of how consumers use yelp is as follows. Imagine you are in a new city. You want breakfast, but you don't know where to go. So you go to yelp, type in the city where you're located, and type "breakfast" in the search box. Yelp will reward you with all the restaurants in the area that serve breakfast in reverse star order. So the best ranked restaurants will be listed first. You can then read the reviews and then decide where to go. Here is a good hub regarding the pros and cons of yelp.

If you are a business owner, here are some tips for using Yelp. These tips will help you generate more business.

  • Make sure you claim your business! Many businesses are being ranked and rated on Yelp but aren't claimed by their owner. By claiming the business, you can add your website information, the hours of operation, pictures of the store, information about the products you sell, a history of the store, information about the owner, etc. Basically, you should put in as much information as you can. This allows the potential customer to really learn about your business and decide if he wants to go there or not.
  • Respond to reviews. After you claim your business, you can start responding to people's reviews. With this response you can highlight a specific part of the post that caught your attention. For example, if someone writes "We love this restaurant. We had a great sicilian pizza that was so tasty," you could respond "We're glad that John liked the Sicilian Pizza. We try to use the freshest ingredients from the bay area. We shop at the finest farmers markets in the area to make sure that the food is awesome. Thanks for the kind words."
  • Be careful how you respond to negative reviews. There are many horror stories of how owners became upset with negative reviews and started criticizing the reviewer. These led to online and offline problems. (eg. flame wars, fist fights, litigation). Remember one thing, if someone has ranked you 1 star and put a negative comment, they usually are writing the comment in the heat of anger. They feel that they have been hurt by your establishment. If you deny you hurt them or make fun of them or denigrate them, this will be putting fuel on the fire. They will respond back and other web surfers and yelpers will probably take their side of the story. (After all, who doesn't believe that business owners are usually in the wrong. It's the whole David and Goliath thing).
  • This is how you respond to negative reviews. First apologize. Then explain what is being done to fix the problem or that the problem was not indicative of your business philosophy. Finally spin the response to highlight things that you want your web surfers to know about
  • Here is an example. A bad review. One Star: "I went into the bookstore and they only offered me 10% of the value for my used books. What a rip off! Who are they kidding! This is a terrible place. And the customer service was rude. After I told them what a terrible place this was, they asked me to leave. I hate this place. I'm never coming back."
  • Wrong way to respond. "We asked you to leave because you were a moron. Of course we're only going to offer you 10% of the value. You brought in junk! Don't waste our time next time. We're glad you're not coming back."
  • How you should respond: "I'm sorry that you felt that our service was rude. Sometimes our customer service skills need improvement. This was probably one of those times. I'm also sorry if you thought that we were trying to rip you off. We try to make fair offers based on a variety of factors. (How popular the item is, how quickly we can sell it, how much we can get for it, how much we have in stock). We generally pay anywhere from 10% to 75% of value. We hope that you decide to come back because we'd hate to lose you as a customer."
  • If you are continually getting negative reviews, take an inventory of your business. Try to determine why you are getting those negative reviews and fix the problem! Many businesses don't realize that they are being given a gift - a FREE mystery shop. Yelpers are telling you about the experience of shopping at your store and YOU DON'T HAVE TO PAY THEM to do this.

Overall, Yelp is a great resource for your small business. Hopefully, you'll use it to generate more business.

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