Monthly Archives: August 2011

Can You Yelp Yelp?

I’ve been thinking about the following situation for some time now and have finally gotten around to writing about it.  I’m not making any accusations, I’m only stating facts and a timeline of events.  Everything contained is as objective as I can make it.  You be the judge.

Fat Tone Guitars is an online and brick and mortar guitar dealership with a huge lineup of guitar effect pedals.  We’ve been in business now for 4 years and now, our sales are approximately 85% Internet and 15% in the store.  Some months, that ratio is closer to 90/10.

With our Internet sales model in place, the Fat Tone showroom is only open to the public on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with Tuesdays and Thursdays reserved for our web upkeep/shipping activities.

About 1.5 years ago, soon after we opted to close the showroom on Tuesdays and Thursdays, a customers left us a voicemail.  He was extremely upset that he’d driven an hour to our shop and found it closed.  To say he was upset is an understatement–he was super pissed.  I never did speak with the customer, even though I called him back to apologize and explain our rationale for our limited business hours.

A week or so after his voicemail, I noticed a negative Yelp review stating that “this store closes without warning” and some additional complaints.  Putting two and two together, I believe that the Yelp review was left by our upset customer.

Since that initial negative Yelp review, we’ve received 4 positive reviews so that finally, our Yelp status was pretty decent.

Back in April of this year, I received a sales call from a Yelp inside sales rep, based out of their San Francisco headquarters.  The sales rep wanted to sell us an updated corporate account as well as advertising on Yelp’s site.   I told him that we had an Internet model and that Yelp advertising wasn’t the right vehicle for us in our growth plans.  He ended up calling us 2 more times, and I had a total of 3 conversations with him.

I told him that our Internet model suited us fine, that we didn’t need a large sales staff or extended retail hours to maintain our growth via the web.  During the conversation, he pushed me, saying “don’t you want more customers?”

Of course we want more customers, we just want more web customers.  I didn’t want to commit marketing dollars to Yelp in order to drive walkup business.  I didn’t want to extend our retail hours, nor did I want to hire additional sales staff, worry about security, and other retail headaches.

What happened next?

Within 1 week of my third and final conversation with the Yelp sales rep, our 4 positive Yelp reviews suddenly became “filtered”, meaning they were no longer visible to casual browsers, nor did they figure in our overall Yelp rating.  We were back down to 1 star and our original review from the upset customer was the only one attributed to Fat Tone Guitars.

More recently, on July 9th we received another positive Yelp review.  It was visible on Yelp’s site giving us 1 negative review and 1 positive review.

Guess what?  As of this morning, that recent positive review is now “filtered” and we are back to a negative. We can’t get ahead here.

I’m just sayin’…