Hope you really enjoyed reading our last guide on clever coffee shop financing How To Crowdfund A Coffee Shop Business. Today we’re super excited to start off with a topic we’ve never covered before – Yelp! Yelp is an important marketing and analytic tool for every CoffeeShopr. In this guide, we are concentrating on what to do and what not to do on Yelp including the best strategies for getting someone to review your shop and some of the most diplomatic ways to reply to negative comments. Let’s go!
Don’t Be Missing Out!
Did you know that you could be missing out on at least $8,000 annually just by not having a free Yelp business account? According to a survey conducted by Boston Consulting Group, small businesses are seeing an increase in their annual revenues by $8,000 after claiming their accounts. If we look at those business owners that also advertise on Yelp, they are making around $23,000 extra, almost three times as much. On average, Yelp’s local business advertisers spend $4,200 annually, so $23,000 is a pretty good number to consider.
No matter what route you decide to go, free or paid, the fact is clear – Yelp works and it brings in extra revenue.
Why Yelp Works?
If you want to see Yelp’s stats click here. If you want to escape visualizing numbers, let me simply tell you that Yelp is the largest review platform in the world. It has the largest number of users coming for purchasing advice and the largest number of local businesses listed. Yelp covers all possible categories for local businesses from gas station to your favorite bookstore, but the most popular and most searched category is Restaurants, which, of course, includes coffee shops and roasteries.
What You Should And Shouldn’t Do
DO #1 DO CLAIM YOUR BUSINESS PAGE
If you are up and running now, your business might have a page already, which you simply need to claim. It won’t be hard. They will verify your identity by giving a call to a number listed on your listing’s page. Click here to find your business and claim it. If your business isn’t anywhere to be found, you can easily add it. Click here to go to a special form and fill up your info: Business Name, Address, Phone, Working Hours and other basic details.
Once you set up your business account, Yelp will start offering you some of its paid features, such as targeted ads, videos and coupons. However, before spending money on its paid tools, we recommend you to first get a better feel of how Yelp works. Take your time. Learn how to leverage Yelp without paying a dime. That includes having a complete profile. Fill up your business page with as much info as possible, making sure it is all accurate, of course. Quality photos play a huge role as well that is why most successful businesses post photos taken professionally. In these pictures, try to show off your unique identifier from similar businesses in the area, whether it is a cold brew coffee cart or an intricate latte art.
DON’T #1 DON’T REVIEW YOURSELF
You might be tempted, especially if you’re just starting out, and your page looks empty, but simply follow our advice and be patient. Writing your own 1st review asking everyone else to review your shop would be perceived as too desperate, and it will most likely hurt your chances of having a “cool, must-visit factor” on Yelp. You could try to use a fake account, of course, but Yelp’s “Review Filter” is quite smart. Fake reviews will get filtered (a.k.a. get put in a special “Filtered Reviews” section, hidden from everyone’s sight), and having a single review that also got filtered isn’t going to look that convincing for a new business.
DO #2 DO TELL EVERYONE YOU ARE ON YELP
You want to keep getting traffic to your Yelp’s page. It doesn’t matter if people come just to read or if they actually post reviews, you want everyone to know your business has a Yelp profile. There are some ways to keep that traffic going:
- Ask to be reviewed in your Facebook and Twitter status updates. Keep those requests simple and positive. Something like “Hey! Tell us what you think on Yelp!” would work best.
- Use signs and stickers that say, “Find us on Yelp!” inside and outside the shop, but don’t overdo it.
- Don’t be shy about asking your regulars for a review. These types of customers will always be happy to spread a good word.
- Include a link to your Yelp’s page on all of your marketing materials that you give away, such as coupons, to-go cups and boxes, loyalty cards and others.
- If you already have a handful of good reviews on Yelp, quote them in places where others may see them. Indicate that these reviews came from Yelp. These types of displays usually encourage others to leave a review as well.
DON’T #2 DON’T BRIBE FOR REVIEWS
It is not a good idea because even though you will get some reviews this way, it is easy to spot an honest, carefully written reviews versus something that was left in haste and without care. When others see or feel that you are offering any kind of incentives, your business’s reputation on Yelp loses credibility. Plus Yelp’s “Review Filter” usually catches these types of reviews as well and buries them deep in the “Filtered” section.
DO #3 DO OFFER A YELP DEAL
Yelp Deals are very similar to discount deals that coupon sites like Groupon and LivingSocial offer, so you offer $30 worth of roasted coffee bags for $15, for example. There are a couple of significant nuances, however. People who purchase Yelp Deals are usually already active Yelp users and are more likely to leave a review after trying out your deal. Also, running a deal attracts the attention of people who are there on Yelp simply looking for good discounts, but would otherwise never click on your shop’s page. Therefore, you open yourself to a wider audience.
DON’T #3 DON’T OFFER A YELP DEAL JUST YET
We believe that Yelp Deals are a great way to promote your coffee business, but be careful. You might not be able to fulfill all of the coupons you’ve just sold. Especially, if you are just starting out, and still don’t have much experience handling a horde of orders. Another thing is that if you are still struggling financially, you might not be able to afford losing certain profit margins that you lose when offering coupon deals.
DO #4 DO RESCUE LEGITIMATE REVIEWS
Even though Yelp’s “Review Filter” does a good job most of the time, sometimes it filters genuine reviews left by honest customers. Yelp doesn’t disclose why this happens. Its filter algorithm is secret, but it seems to be a problem for reviewers whose profiles are brand new and still don’t disclose as much personal information – profile photos, filled up “About me” sections, and a number of friend connections with other Yelpers.
One way around it all would be contacting these reviewers, thanking them for their kind words, explaining the situation with their reviews being hidden from the public and asking them to update their profiles. This method usually helps to get these reviews out and to count them towards your star rating.
DON’T #4 DON’T BOTHER YELPERS TOO MUCH
Even though we think it’s OK to message these users asking them to update their profiles, don’t overdo it. If they don’t reply to your 1st message, ask only once again at most. Never go for the 3rd time, if they haven’t replied to the 2nd request. No one likes being bothered. If they do reply and update their profile, make sure to thank them dearly. It doesn’t matter if the updates helped to get that review out of the filter or not, it is very important to show them some appreciation for taking time to do this for you.
DO #5 DO REPLY TO REVIEWS
Take your time to think through the responses, though. It is usually best to give warm thanks, express your happiness with their their satisfactory experience and say that you can’t wait to see them again. Be sure to keep your reply comments short and simple.
DON’T #5 DON’T BE TOO DEFENSIVE
This will probably happen to you. There will be a couple of customers who will write bad reviews, after having an unsatisfactory experience at your shop or just a bad day. Do reply to their comments, but be smart about it. All you need to do is to emphasize with them, apologize for whatever happened in there, and to offer to make it up when they come in next time. Most of the time, that reviewer will be grateful for your understanding, and might actually pay you a 2nd visit. However, if that Yelper keeps on publicly harassing you and your business, you should stop and do nothing about it anymore. You don’t want to get involved in a free drama show for others to observe. Other Yelpers will appreciate and understand the fact that while this reviewer went out of his way to intimidate you, you stayed cool and calm throughout this whole thing. Remember you can’t please everyone, but you can control your response to negative situations.
Why Do You Really Need Yelp?
Yelp is really good for getting to know what you customers really think of your shop. Of course, you will have to spend some time going through all the reviews and discerning quality feedback from any nasty comments you might receive, but doing so will strengthen your business and show everyone that you do care what others say.
Thanks for reading. See you next time!