I want this space to be positive, and thoughtful and about braving the entrepreneurial wilds--but I just have to say (this once) why Yelp is absolutely the worst. Because if you want to open a restaurant (especially) then you have to come to terms with this mass extortionist, and the nonsense it unleashes and provokes in the general public. So, yes, there's the fact that it gives voice to the judgmental and petty sides in all of us. But then, that's the internet, so I can't really hold that specifically against only Yelp--though it does nothing to help businesses protect themselves against baseless slander. In fact, this gruesome force actually pretends to be an ally to businesses, while doing everything it can to lock them into their draconian sales funnel.
Since opening StudioCrepe, I was called on a weekly basis by Yelp, and each time they promised they would absolutely increase the foot traffic to my restaurant. They had all kinds of data, and powerpoint slides, and flash and all they asked for was $1000 a month. Yup. $1000 a month AND a year contract. That was their leading pitch. AND I was "lucky" because not every business was offered such a generous opportunity. If I gave them $1000 a month for a year, they would flood me with customers. So many customers I would barely be able to handle them. I asked if they guaranteed this, or if they had hard ROI metrics. Nope, they didn't, but they still pursued me with vigor.
Over the fall, as business started to wane, I started to get nervous. What if Yelp could actually help me turn the tide of the seasonality of Rockport? Was I missing out on a marketing opportunity? And right on cue, there was their weekly cold-call. With a special: 3-month trial--$375 a month.
Look, I'm new at this. I am willing to do anything to fill the dining room--so please forgive my ignorance--but I relented. Despite my better judgement, I gave in. I did everything they asked--photos, call to action buttons, advertisements, Yelp specials. And so at the end of 3 months, I am going to cut to the chase here...the conclusion? Yelp really really sucks.
4 new customers that I could validate. Over $1000 spent for 4 customers.
I could see immediately that they made little impact, but I gave it a couple months. I would have cancelled early, but they had an early termination fee which dissuaded me. So, in month three, I called to cancel, and they informed me of a 30 day cancellation policy. Basically, they were going to extort me for an extra 4th month, whether I liked it or not. I hated it. That final insult probably is what prompted me to write this bitter account.
Okay--so the walk-away lesson here? Don't believe Yelp as a business owner. Walk away. Quickly and confidently!