Yelp and Its Benefits for the Foodservice Industry

Blog Post By: Ian J. Jennings, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Baer Performance Marketing


We all know of Yelp as the app or website we use when we want to eat out or order in. We love those stars. 5 stars? We’re out the door. 2 stars? There must be something rotten in Denmark.

Like it or not, we’ve become a nation of data scientists. Why take a gamble when you can analyze star trends and reviews? If a place isn’t listed, they’re probably not competent enough to earn my money.

Customers want easy. They want comfort. And they don’t want to work for it either. Yelp makes the process easy. More than 100 million people use Yelp every month. With just a few clicks, the potential customer can get a snap shot of your establishment. The best part is you get to control most of what they see.

How, you might ask? If you can’t erase bad reviews and, you can’t give yourself more stars, what can you do? Well, great question. The answer is simple. LITERALLY EVERYTHING ELSE. Be a good business. Serve great food. Serve it well. Have a Yelp profile, and keep it updated. Encourage your customers to review your establishment if you think you’re doing a great job. Use the bad reviews as feedback, and get better. The benefits of Yelp are clear:

Yelp allows for paid and earned advertising. Yelp is free to use for individuals and businesses. Every free part of Yelp is a great way to reach and engage customers. A free way to grow. Everyone who signs on can have those benefits. What’s more, you can use positive reviews across platforms. Take one and throw it on Facebook. Heck, throw them all on Facebook. Throw the very best reviews on your website. It’s all free. Where businesses can further set themselves apart is with Yelp’s paid advertising offerings. Show up in front of your prospective customers before they know they need you. Plant the seed so they crave your food later.

Yelp allows you to connect with your customers. Your customers go to Yelp to find a place to eat, but they also can look at your company content, including pictures, messages and website. They can call you through the app as well. You can respond to their reviews and make follow up offers to correct issues or problems. Yelp can be your fiercest foe or greatest ally. Choose ally.

Yelp allows you to measure improvement. Business can use the data Yelp generates to measure trends and growth. Are periods of increased business correlating with increased Yelp page views and reviews? If not, why not? Are competitors suddenly seeing upticks in reviews and ratings? What have they changed? Are they eating into your customer base? These are all issues that Yelp can help resolve. By providing data and context, Yelp democratizes the industry. Competitive advantages are more likely to fade when they’re put on the display for the world to see. This is good and bad for your business. If you’re the market leader, you better stay fresh. If you’re not, pick away at your competitor’s customer base by advertising directly to them via Yelp. Reach out to their negative reviewers and offer deals. All’s fair in love and culinary pursuits.

Human beings like to make excuses. Crazy, I know. They blame bad reviews on everything from a bad chef to unreasonable customers and bad weather. Every single one of these excuses is pure crap. By and large, the reviews a company receives online, no matter the website or app, are accurately representative of that establishment when viewed holistically and over a long enough timeline. What a great resource! A running report card of performance and ability. If you’re in the food industry, you should embrace this!

You can learn about or from your competitors without spending a dime. You can differentiate from them by using their reviews as a template of what not to do or what to do better. Learn from others’ mistakes while avoiding your own. Optimize your own strengths through Yelp, and the sky’s the limit.

If you have any questions about advertising through Yelp, please leave them in the comment section below or privately reach out to the Baer Performance Marketing team here.