For one small business owner, negative Yelp reviews might not be such a bad thing.

Botto Bistro, the California-based Italian eatery co-owned and operated by Davide Cerretini and Michele Massimo, are actively encouraging patrons to provide one-star reviews of their restaurant to protest the popular online review website Yelp.

Why encourage negative reviews?

The owners of Botto Bistro believe that Yelp gives preferential treatment to businesses that pay for advertising, putting other companies, like their Italian restaurant, in a tough position.

And, a recent court ruling states that there is nothing wrong with Yelp’s practices. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has found that it is perfectly legal for Yelp to alter ratings based off of money (a practice Yelp vehemently denies).

Although extreme and not for all businesses, Botto Bistro’s methods are certainly getting attention. However, here are three other strategies to help deal with negative reviews:

1. Remain calm, cool and collected
Always keep your cool – overreacting can be very bad for your business. Don’t take to the Internet to blast this user and avoid posting your problems on social media. If you can’t do this, appoint someone in your company who can. Above all else, treat a poor Yelp review like an in-store complaint. Use your existing customer service policies to dictate your response.

2. Take the high road
When you are ready to respond, take the high road at all times. Counter with a solution to the problem and remain polite. You should post your response publicly on Yelp, so all other users can see it and see that you care about customer services.

3. Remain consistent
Above all else, keep your responses consistent. Don’t treat one customer with respect and go overboard with another. Remember, use your in-store policies to control your behavior and always act professional. This will make your business appear favorable, no matter the reviews you’ve received online.

What do you think about Botto Bistro’s Yelp strategy? Weigh in below.

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