Food Industry Advice: How To Combat A Bad Yelp Review

Estimated reading time: 3 mins

Online reviews can make or break your business. In the food industry, these generally originate from the 11 million or so people who use the popular restaurant review site, Yelp. Get a good review, and you are going to see an upturn in customers wanting to try your food. On the other hand, a bad review can trigger a downturn in customers, and your business will suffer as a result.

In this article, we are going to give you a few tips on combating a bad Yelp review. Whether this negative feedback was justified or not, there are ways to deal with the fallout this bad review can cause.

  1. Preempt online reviews

In theory (although it isn’t always the case), you won’t get a bad review if your food business is up to scratch. This means hiring the best staff, with training in place to help them manage your customer’s needs. This means using the best catering equipment suppliers to give your kitchen staff the best quality tools for the job. This means adhering to health and safety, and food regulation laws to ensure you aren’t endangering your customers. By putting these essential elements in place, you are reducing the risk factor in getting a bad review in the first place.

  1. Think before you react

One bad review isn’t much of a problem; you may have had a disgruntled customer with a personal axe to grind, or somebody who makes a hobby out of complaining. In some cases, you should ignore the review without it ruining your day. On the other hand, if there is some truth to the review, you need to contemplate your response. This is particularly true if you have several reviews saying the same thing. There is clearly something wrong within your establishment, and you need to take steps to rectify it. In either case, consider the next point.

  1. Respond to the review

So you’ve had a bad review. After contemplating what is being said, you need to consider if the feedback is justified. If it is, you need to remedy the problem. This means apologising to the people you have offended, either privately or publicly on Yelp, and then taking the appropriate measures in-house to deal with any issues. You might also offer your aggrieved customer a free or discounted meal as a means of goodwill, thus giving them the opportunity to see how you have turned things around within your establishment. Because you have listened and acted upon the bad reviews, you will win back customer trust.

On the other hand, the reviews may not be justified. You may have one (or more) people on your hands who care little for your reputation. In these cases, interact in the right way. Rather than responding angrily with your words, take a step back and remain calm. You can be the better person by replying to the Yelp review with fairness, explaining why you feel their review is unjustified. Particularly when replying publically, you do need to remember that other site users will be seeing your words. You will only make things worse for your reputation if you get into an online battle with the complaining reviewer, so carefully formulate your response. If they continue to complain in response to your reply, don’t get into a battle of words. Be the better person and move on, or consider legal action if their words constitute as slander.


Bad reviews are unavoidable if there are glaring issues within your business, but you can always expect some negativity despite putting measures in place – people do like to complain, after all. Still, you need to be professional. React in a positive and timely manner, whether the bad feedback was justified or not, and you will secure your business reputation.

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