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Yelp for Salon Owners image

By this point, you’ve probably heard of Yelp. In fact, you’ve probably used it to research new restaurants or even to check out your competition. Yelp is a business review site and a go-to reference for many people when they’re looking for honest business ratings. Over 50 million businesses worldwide have profiles on Yelp. And in the second quarter of 2014, Yelp saw an average of 138 million unique visitors each month. That’s 138 million different people who are using Yelp to decide where to spend their money! So make sure to take advantage of this incredibly popular service and create your Yelp listing today.

The first step to taking advantage of Yelp is to make sure your business is visible. Go to biz.yelp.com to create your business owner account and profile. Take the time right away to set up your account as accurately and completely as possible. Build out your profile by adding photos, and including your hours, address, website, and phone number. When you visit Yelp, you might find that a business page for your salon already exists. If that’s the case, you can claim your profile by going to biz.yelp.com/claiming.

One you have a profile set up, it’s time to start thinking about your reviews. The more reviews your salon has, the more likely a potential new customer is to trust your rating. It’s best to get reviews organically, without specifically requesting them from your clients. Encourage clients to write reviews by putting up an unobtrusive Yelp sign in your salon, or by including a Yelp link on your website or online booking site. If you want to use official graphics from Yelp, you can download what you need on Yelp’s flickr page.

It’s important to stay up-to-date on what’s being said about your business. Make time to check your Yelp reviews once a week. Highlight your exceptional reviews on your website, and be sure to respond on Yelp to all of your reviews – both the positive and the not-so-positive. When you respond to a positive review, you can communicate with people who had a great experience and turn then into a loyal client. And remember, even the best businesses sometimes get bad reviews. It’s an unfortunate reality that you won’t get sparkling reviews from absolutely everyone – even if the service you provided was faultless. It’s a good policy to respond to any negative reviews you receive. Yelp suggests that business owners remember three things as they craft responses to bad review.

1. Your reviewers are your paying customers.
2. Your reviewers are real human beings with (sometimes unpredictable) feelings and sensitivities.
3. Your reviewers are vocal and opinionated (otherwise they would not be writing reviews!)

So when you’re responding, do so diplomatically. Acknowledge the criticism, say you’re taking steps to improve, and invite the reviewer to return. You can also send the reviewer a private message to discuss the issue further. Just remember, don’t be defensive or accusatory. Even if you feel as if your salon is being falsely or un-fairly reviewed, respond politely and professionally. Always take the high road because your responses on Yelp are out there for the world to see.

If you feel that a reviewer is being defamatory or un-truthful, you should dispute the review with Yelp. They can decide whether or not they will allow the questionable review to remain on the site. Of course, you’ll want all your Yelp reviews to be positive. The only way to ensure that is by providing a consistently great experience for your clients. According to Yelp, customer service has the biggest impact on whether a reviewer will give your salon a positive or negative review. They created a word cloud on their blog that showed the words that most often come up in positive customer reviews. “Friendly,” “nice,” and “helpful,” were high on the list.

All of this boils down to the same advice you’ll hear over and over again when it comes to social media marketing. Offer superior customer service, treat your clients as the most important part of your business, engage in the online conversation so your clients know you care, and be polite! In no time, you’ll have a 5 star rating. If you have more questions, visit the Yelp Business Owner Support Center.