I love mom and pop shops. I can’t quite put my finger for when this affinity began, but I prefer an owner operated business over a chain any day of the week.
We all know that corporate America has slowly destroyed these small businesses. One by one, we preferred Home Depot over our local Ace Hardware to the point that franchisees had to give in. The same goes for restaurants, music stores, grocery stores… the list goes on and on.
The paradox is that the more prevalent big box shops get the more a certain portion of the population longs for the uniqueness and quirkiness of the little guy.
This is where Yelp is saving the day. Yelp is people powered reviews of local businesses. Users rate all kinds of services within a community– they cut past the marketing and give you the straight skinny. I’ve used Yelp to chose places to eat, doctors, furniture stores, hotels, and even parks!
Here’s the fun part. I’ve learned that when you give a fair and honest review of a place you often get an incredible response from the owner. The shareholders of Home Depot never wrote me to thank me for spending money there. Nor have I ever received a follow-up note from Chili’s.
Here’s one I got from the place we bought our bed:
Thank you so much for your outstanding review!! My wife and I are responsible for many lives who depend on the success of our business and the only way to make it these days is by providing proper service. I want you to know that your review means a great deal to all of us.
So once again, from me, my wife and the whole crew, we thank you for your business and great review. It was a pleasure doing business with you and we look forward to serving you again in the near future. See you soon.
It’s good to know that when I spent my money at that place, they not only noticed, but appreciated the connection between my choosing their establishment and their paying their staff. Again, not something you see at a corporate joint.
Of course, Yelp has an iPhone app. Kristen and I have literally been exploring a city, standing in front of a place reading reviews, and deciding whether or not to eat at a place based on reviews posted that day.
Here’s my request. If you value small businesses. If you love all things unique and quirky where you live. Please use Yelp. Joining the site is free. And posting reviews and ratings can take just a couple of minutes but help others out a ton. Even if you don’t travel much, just rating the places you like will help your favorite places find more customers. Be kind to the places you like and brutally honest to the places you don’t like.
This one small act can make a huge difference for some small businesses. Just one additional customer per day is a big deal.
Of course, feel free to add me as a friend on Yelp so you won’t Yelp alone.