Before you post that scathing review… part 3 my suggestions

In my previous post, I tried to paint a picture of what life is like for a business owner. I think a lot of people think it is easier than it actually is, and view business owners as rich, greedy titans who are more likely to be relaxing on a beach somewhere than they are to be working in the day-to-day operations. In many cases, customers are much harsher on employees of a business than they’d ever be on anyone else, thinking that the business is a faceless entity without a soul.

Now, I’m not in any way suggesting you shouldn’t give honest feedback. I think different sites like yelp and urban spoon are extremely valuable in providing small businesses with much needed visibility, as well as avenues for customers to post their experiences. What I am referring to are the over-the-top vendetta types, or the venomous stories of what is most definitely an atypical experience.  We need small businesses to succeed, and they need us to thrive. So instead of going home and using “keyboard courage” to write a scathing reply, here are my suggestions:

  1. Simply put, buy local. Support local businesses.
  2. When you find a local business you like, tell people about it. Remember, they live and die by word of mouth–so help them out.
  3. If you get a chance to meet the owner, congratulate them. Tell them you are spreading the word about their place. As a business owner, I never tire of hearing that.
  4. Leave out the venom. Name calling or character attacks have no place in reviews.
  5. If you have a bad experience with a product or person–consider other options before  going straight home and broadcasting it to the world. Just pull the business manager or owner aside and politely say, “Hey, I just thought you’d like to know, the lasagna was dry today.” or, “I just thought I’d like you to know, it looks like your server is having a rough night or something–she seemed really impatient with us.” Trust me, if you tell the business owner or manager directly, they will GREATLY appreciate it–and it will go a long way to make sure the next customer doesn’t have the same experience.
  6. When you do your review, ignore what could have been an atypical situation. If the frosting is too sweet, or the burrito is too bland, write about it. But if there was a bug in your water, unless the place is a total dive, that probably wasn’t the business owner’s fault.
  7. Lastly, if you happen to work for a local small business, TAKE PRIDE IN IT. Tell your customers the company story PROUDLY. Be glad you are working for a small restaurant instead of a chain.

We all benefit from small businesses thriving. They contribute  to your local economy by providing jobs, paying tax dollars, paying vendors. They add local character and individuality. And unless you prefer to go to big-box retailers for all of your purchases, provide a quaint experience to shopping that is desperately needed in the impersonal world we live in.

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