A recent New York Times story about online reviews focused on the experiences of Todd Rutherford, who said this about the world of online reviews and reputation management: “When there are 20 positive reviews and 1 negative, I’m going to go with the negative. I’m jaded.” As if negative reviews weren’t the only thing affecting restaurant sales, Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppleman announced that the company plans to shine a light on kitchen conditions with the addition of restaurant hygiene scores.
The scores will be aggregated from city data and showcased on business pages under the “Health Score” navigation; San Francisco and New York will be the first cities to roll out establishment inspection history and detailed information on its various violations.
We’ve told the story about how Harvard Business School’s Michael Luca studied the effects of Yelp on the restaurant industry. In case you’ve forgotten, he found that a one star increase in a Yelp score leads to a 5-9% increase in revenue. This mainly affects small, independent establishments who have little control over their online review profiles. Are you addressing negative and positive reviews on every site that contains mentions of your business? Do you know how to obtain positive online reviews while burying the negative?
Yelp’s new feature was even endorsed by the White House, which pushed the online reviews site to create an open standard called the Local Inspector Value-entry Specification, or LIVES for short, according to a CNET article. The inspection data could greatly affect restaurants in the cities where available, and who knows, we wouldn’t be surprised to see this feature expand into markets like St. Louis.
The new feature will surely alter how customers decide on where to eat and spend their dollars. Is your restaurant ready for these changes? Remember, it’s never too late to start thinking about reputation management and how it could save your business from going under.