How to Use Yelp to Promote Your Bar

Yelp is a little like the Yellow Pages on steroids and a great tool to promote your new bar. Its brand promise is “Yelp is the best way to find great local businesses,” and yes, it has an app for that. Many people go to Yelp to find reviews and details about a bar or restaurant in order to decide where to hang out or dine that very night.

Computer (or smartphone) users can search the Internet for your bar. They may get a hit on your actual website, but they’ll also likely get the Yelp profile for your business, whether you set one up or not. So you can see immediately why this site is one you want to be actively involved in.

One important thing to keep in mind about Yelp is that you don’t really get a choice of whether your business is listed or not. Because Yelp gets data from third parties, such as public records, it builds business profiles for its users to access and subsequently review. Eventually your bar will be on Yelp, so actively take control of your bar’s profile and managing it from the beginning.

Here’s how to set up your bar’s account:

  1. Go to Yelp.

  2. Click on the button to set up a business account.

  3. Search for your business.

    If you’re open, Yelp likely already has a listing for your bar. Provide the name and location of your bar. Yelp will give you the closest matches, including (hopefully) your own bar.

    If your bar isn’t listed, look for the link “Add your business to Yelp” at the bottom of the page. Then, you can put in all the details of your business, such as the address, hours of operation, and category. It is recommended choosing the “Nightlife” category and the “Bar” subcategory.

  4. Click the Claim button to the far right of your bar’s listing. At this point, you set up a user name and profile. You also confirm that you have the authority to claim this business.

  5. Verify your identity. Yelp will place a call to you to confirm that you are indeed who you say you are.

  6. Walk around like a champion for the rest of the day because you just set up your Yelp account.

Once you have a Yelp account, you need to set up your business listing. You can add photos, a copy of your menu, and so on. Check out the whole host of tools at Yelp to see what you can include.

Yelp also gives you information about who is viewing your listing. It can tell you how many users have seen your page (and how many of them did so with a smartphone) as well as how many have clicked on your map, your menu, and other specific features. Yelp also lets you set up special deals for its users. So explore the site and see what may work for you.

Yelp users actively review the places they frequent. Read your reviews. Respond to any negative reviews as soon as possible. This way, you can resolve the issue with the customer before it becomes a bigger problem. Other users can see your responses and will likely view your active resolution in a positive light. When you’re responding to complaints, here are our recommendations for things to keep in mind:

  • If you feel angry, breathe and count to ten (or more) before responding. No need to rush the conversation and make things worse by venting or losing objectivity online.

  • Keep in mind that this person paid to be in your bar and didn’t enjoy himself. He won’t be back unless you can turn the situation around.

  • Thank the reviewer for providing feedback. Many people don’t complain and don’t give you a chance to fix something. They simply never come back. This person is giving you a precious gift, a second chance.

  • If the problem mentioned in the review resulted in changes in your place, let the reviewer know. For example, if the patron’s beer was warm and you have since upgraded your keg lines to glycol cooling to improve the experience, let him know. This change may be the key to getting him to come back.

  • If the review process escalates the customer to continue complaining, attempt to continue the discussion in a private forum, through direct e-mail, a phone call, or other means.

  • Electronic communication is tough because you can’t see body language or hear nuances the way you do in face-to-face conversations. Always give the reviewer the benefit of the doubt and assume the person has the best intentions in providing feedback.

  • Never forget the world is watching. If you handle the criticism with class, you could win over some new patrons. If you don’t, you could isolate them. Proceed with objectivity and professionalism at all times.

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