How Your Restaurant Can Earn Another Star On Yelp



At Social Media Rescue, we’ve learned a lot about Yelp while working with our restaurant clients. By respecting Yelp as a social media platform, we can leverage it to increase business, engage with customers, and provide superior customer service. We’ve also learned a lot about customer behavior from reading thousands of Yelp reviews. This combined research has taught us how restaurants can earn an extra star with absolutely zero advertising or other monetary investment. In case you don’t think one Yelp star is a big deal, consider that according to a study by Harvard Business School professor Michael Luca, restaurants on Yelp will experience a 5% to 9% revenue increase when their rating goes up by one star. That is a lot of money you may be scraping into the trash.


1.  Cleanliness and Friendliness

After reading thousands of Yelp reviews, we discovered that cleanliness and good customer service is worth an entire star, regardless of food quality.  In other words, cleanliness and good customer service are worth an increase of 5-9% in revenue. People notice and appreciate cleanliness and friendliness. Everyone wants to feel like you care about your establishment, and you care about them. If they feel that, they will have a hard time giving you a damaging one or two star review.

Here is one of our client’s Yelp reviews where his kind service brought this review up to 5 stars!


 2.  Respond Nicely To Negative Restaurant Reviews

Even the best restaurants in the world get negative Yelp reviews.

Most unhappy customers won’t bother writing a review. They just won’t come back and you will never know why. What they will do is tell their friends why they won’t come back, and again, you won’t be there to change anyone’s mind. This is why you should embrace bad Yelp reviews. Your Yelp reviewers are the vocal minority, and most of them are telling you what you need to know about your restaurant. Use your negative Yelp reviews to make your restaurant better. [Tweet “Look for consistent comments from your Yelp reviewers, that is where the truth lives.” If you see multiple reviews complaining about bad service, you have a problem with service, but you have a problem that can be fixed.

 Four Reasons To Respond To Negative Yelp Reviews: 

  • Your response is public and shows potential customers that you care about fixing any problems.

  • It will motivate you to take clear and immediate actions to correct any problems which will elevate the overall experience for future customers, and ultimately increase your revenue. 

  • If you get a negative review from an Elite Yelper, that review can remain at the top of your reviews for months because the default user view on your Yelp page is “Yelp Sort”. “Yelp Sort” sorts your reviews by the most relevant which is determined by Yelp’s algorithm. More weight is given to Yelpers with a high number of reviews and lots of friends, and the most weight is given to Yelp Elite reviews because they are trusted in the Yelp community for having well-written reviews, good tips, and review engagement. You want to let them know that it is your mission to change their experience at your restaurant for the better. Invite them back when you will be there to meet them and make things right. This extra effort can earn you an updated review from the Elite Yelper which can increase your restaurant’s rating.

  • You have a good chance of winning back a customer and getting an ‘updated review’.

But, I Got A Crazy Review From An Ex-Employee:

You may get a bad review that is a little off the wall. Maybe it’s badly written, inaccurate, nonsensical, full of ridiculous accusations, or maybe they are even talking about another restaurant (we’ve seen that happen too). Don’t respond to this type of negative review. In most cases, Yelp’s filter algorithm will catch a wacky review within 24 hours, and whisk it off to the dungeon of “not currently recommended reviews”. These reviews are discreetly hidden via a subtle link, at the bottom of your Yelp business page, and do not factor into your overall rating. If the algorithm doesn’t catch an off the wall review, you can flag it, by clicking the light gray flag at the bottom right of the review.  After you click the flag, you will get a drop down menu where you will be asked why you are flagging the review. This does not guarantee that Yelp will remove the review, but it will get another look from Yelp, and they may agree with you, and remove it.



 3.    Thank Customers For Their Positive Reviews

Thanking customers for their positive reviews is important because people love being recognized for the extra time they take to talk about their experience at your restaurant. To others reading your reviews, it shows that you care about your business and appreciate your customers.

How will this get my restaurant another star?

  • By thanking them for their review, they will be reminded of their positive experience and might be triggered to visit again. Next time, they may bring a foodie friend who may write you another great review, feeding off their friend’s enthusiasm.

  • Lots of good reviews are 3-4 stars. By thanking them for their kind words, and inviting them back, you get another chance to earn more stars through an updated review. They will be more inclined to write an updated review knowing that you will see it, and appreciate it.

  • Responding to your positive reviews gives you a deeper connection to your customers.

    Not only will they love the attention, but you can learn a lot about them from their Yelp profile such as their name, what they enjoyed about your food, and where they live.  Next time they come in, you can call them by their name, and ask if they’d like their usual. This kind of attention builds customer loyalty by making your already happy customer feel appreciated. A happy, loyal customer will talk to others about their special experience and lead more people through your door, seeking the same. More reviews help your overall rating over time. The enthusiasm and customer service that happens on Yelp can ultimately add long-term stability and growth in your rating and revenues.