Lessons learned from Yelp

I had an interesting conversation recently with some restaurateur friends. We were reading comments on Yelp and noticing the difference between someone who gave a place 5 stars versus a good old fashioned 1-star rant. It made me realize how businesses tend to think they can cater to anyone and everyone instead of focusing on finding customers that are a good fit for their product. Some observations…

2 stars is okay sometimes
The truth is that you can’t be everything to everyone. I guess some restaurants are trying to do just that by offering up a catalog for a menu. But it’s okay to have some people not like you and your business. Really. All you have to do is cater to your fans and build a big enough group of fans to sustain your business.

Think before you act
It’s important to take each comment with a grain of salt. Sure, you should pay attention to every comment that comes in, but it’s important not to have a knee-jerk reaction every time someone suggests a change. I respect a business owner that can say no, even to good ideas. If you are going to bring a vision to fruition, you have to make forward progress. Bouncing from idea to idea, trend to trend makes that harder to do.

Make your business a destination
The danger in trying to appease everyone is that you won’t be memorable to anyone for anything. But if you position yourself as an expert in something, people will seek you out. Just as people will flock to a taco joint that’s known for their amazing tacos, they will come to you for that remarkable thing you do.

Stay humble
One danger of shunning any and all critics is that it can come across as arrogant. Just make sure it’s not true arrogance. Look for trends. If enough people are complaining, maybe you’re actually wrong in this instance. You don’t have to react to every comment, but you do have to pay attention to those bigger trends. Be wise and surround yourself with outside advisers who can help you decipher the true issues.

The bottom line is that you should do more of what your fans love and don’t worry so much about the critics. What do those 5-star review clients of yours love about you? Can you do that same thing for others?

One Response to “Lessons learned from Yelp”

  • Adrienne says:

    Your comments remind me of something my mom said long ago, “If you try to be all things to all people, you risk being nothing to anyone. And you’ll drive yourself crazy while you’re doing it.”