The fact that the Internet, specifically sites like Yelp and Google, allow anyone on the Internet to comment on a business is amazingly awesome scary. One question that I often receive from audience members who own restaurants or car dealerships is, “How do I control what people say about my business?” In short, you cannot. However, that’s not necessarily a negative. Random awesome posts can be a welcome pick-me-up. Plus, one bad review could be a reason to connect with your best customers and encourage them to write about their personal experiences.

No matter what though, don’t do this-

craigslist ad for paid yelp review

My mouth completely hit the floor when I saw this post yesterday. Imagine the horrible PR that could ensue if the name of the company making this request was leaked to the media. Additionally, Yelp now places and advisory, with proof, on the pages of those businesses caught with their hand in the cookie jar.


Three Actions to Take When You Receive Poor Reviews on Yelp or Google+

  1. Calmly respond to the user without getting defensive. It is okay to state facts, but keep a calm and empathetic tone.
  2. Offer a solution with your contact information.  Not only will you look professional, but it will make the reviewer look irrational to anyone else reading reviews should he/she continue to complain vs. contact you to resolve the matter.
  3. Encourage, but don’t incentivize, happy customers to also post reviews. A bad review will definitely cause your overall numerical rating to take a hit, so it is important to get that score back up.


In 2010 one of my friends received a negative Yelp review from an extremely irrational client. I advised her to contact her best clients to ask them to post their experiences. The result, not only did her star clients post reviews, they also started sharing her information via social networks. Within 48 hours she had six prospects contact her from positive word of mouth!

A negative review can be a huge boost to a company. If handled well, it can be a great way to energize past clients (brand ambassadors), generate referrals from positive word of mouth and build your online reputation as a mature brand that can manage conflict.