My family and I travel a lot. Inevitably, we end up driving through convenient fast-food chains for on-the-road meals. But otherwise, we dive into the local restaurants of the town we are visiting. Local shops. Local coffee. Local museums. Local attractions.
I thought that spending our money at local, small businesses was enough to support them. But one small business owner showed me otherwise.
“Would you mind leaving me a nice Yelp review if you enjoyed our services today?” the owner asked timidly. “Of course,” was my husband’s quick reply. Our kids were covered head to toe in delicious ice cream from the quaint, small-town ice cream shop. The service had been nothing but wonderful, the atmosphere delightful, and our family completely satisfied, but I never would have thought to leave this establishment a review had the owner not asked.
“You see,” he explained, “people only leave reviews if they have a bad experience. Those who are happy don’t say anything, so I have to ask.”
Not only did we both leave this owner a glowing review from each of our Yelp accounts, I also made it a point to leave positive reviews for any and every small business we visited on that trip. On our next trip, I did the same. And on the trip after that. And finally, it occurred to me to review the local establishments we frequent in our own hometown.
I challenge you to look up your favorite restaurant and see how many stars they have on Yelp. I was shocked to see that several of our family’s tried-and-true eating-out joints were rated fairly poorly. Most of the comments started with, “I was on a business trip and ordered here once,” or “I ordered here once and the food was good, but the service was slow.” Of course these comments are valid to the person who left them, and I will not discredit their feelings. However, I had also eaten at these places many times over many years and had an entirely different perspective. The difference is that I had kept my satisfaction silent.
An acquaintance of mine on Facebook once posted a rant about how she had never left a Yelp review until that day. “And of course it was because of a bad experience,” she declared. There is nothing wrong with speaking your truth if you are not satisfied with your encounter at a new, or old, place. It’s way too easy, though, to only air our grievances. It means the world to small business owners when we also take the time to shout from the internet rooftops how much we enjoy their services.
Owning a business is not easy. Small businesses have been hit especially hard during COVID. Taking a few minutes while we’re watching TV at night or waiting at a sports practice or sitting in a doctor’s office to leave a good online review of our local establishments is the least we can do to help them succeed.
Thank you to small business owners everywhere. No one quite understands how much you hustle, fight, stress, lose sleep, and sacrifice just to stay afloat. You give back to our communities in big ways. We are grateful, and we want to show it.