Reputation Changer: Complaints, Yelp Reviews Make-or-Break for Restaurants

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A new study reveals just how important online reviews can be for restaurants—a finding that has merited the attention of Reputation Changer.

There was a time when restaurants rose and fell on the basis of word-of-mouth buzz, spread throughout the local community. Those days are largely gone now, with the local community being replaced by the larger, faster-paced online community. In this new digital environment, online reviews and complaints have replaced old-fashioned word-of-mouth as the true deciders of a restaurant’s success—or its failure. In fact, a recent study, reported by NBC News, finds that the reviews posted on sites like are truly make-or-break for many restaurants—a finding that has won the attention of Reputation Changer, an industry-leading reputation defense firm.

In fact, the study finds that the caliber of online reviews or complaints received by a restaurant can have a direct impact on how much traffic it does. The study, conducted by professors at UC Berkley, finds that restaurants receiving the highest ratings are fully booked more than half the time. In contrast, restaurants with weaker reviews are only booked, on average, a third of the time.

Cliff Stein, Reputation Changer Chief Executive Officer, has responded to this study with a new press statement. Stein says that, if anything, these results are overly optimistic. “We have seen restaurants with terrible Yelp reviews and online complaints, and many of them would have given anything to have a third of their tables booked,” he says. “At Reputation Changer, complaints and reviews from sites like Yelp are deadly serious. For restaurants, it is no exaggeration whatsoever to say that they are make-or-break.”

According to Stein, this is a simple consequence of the heightened role that mobile technology and social media sites play in today’s consumer culture—to say nothing of the omnipresence of Google. “Look at it from this perspective,” Stein explains. “A couple is out on the town, maybe running some errands or perhaps taking in a movie, and they decide to grab a bite to eat. They had no definite plans, so the quickest and easiest way for them to locate good dining establishments in the area is probably to head to Google, using their smart phones—and this will very quickly lead them to, which ranks very high for any restaurant-related search queries.”

What consumers find on review sites like Yelp can have a direct and even severe impact on a restaurant’s success, Stein continues. “At Reputation Changer, complaints and negative reviews are regarded as extreme threats to any business’ success,” he says. “Restaurants that receive bad online reviews do not do as much business as restaurants with good reviews—something this new UC Berkeley study makes plain. What’s more, restaurants on the receiving end of online complaints can experience diminished sales, the loss of once-loyal customers, and more.”

Many restaurants, becoming increasingly aware of how much these online review sites matter, are reaching out to companies like Reputation Changer. According to Cliff Stein, Reputation Changer has a clientele that includes Fortune 500 brands, legal firms, medical practices, and even elected officials, but the company also renders its services to many restaurants.

“Restaurants come to us because they have been besieged by bad reviews or online complaints, and they are rapidly losing business as a result of it,” Stein remarks. “They come to us knowing that, while we cannot keep people from posting bad reviews, we can minimize the damage done by those bad reviews.”

Stein explains that Reputation Changer engages in what it calls “review suppression” on behalf of its restaurant clients. “What we do is basically inundate the Web with positive information about the restaurant in question,” he says. “This effectively pushes the negative listings and bad reviews out of the way. The idea is that consumers who search for the restaurant online only see the positive, brand-enhancing content—presenting the restaurant in the best light possible.”

Industry-leading reputation defense firm Reputation Changer was founded in 2009 by an elite team of online marketing and sales veterans. Now joined by content writers, account executives, and social media gurus, Reputation Changer is known for its boundless innovation and its peerless commitment to helping clients regain control over how they are portrayed on the Internet.

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Cliff Stein
Reputation Changer LLC
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