Asking for Bad Reviews

Tired of feeling like you’re being held hostage by ApartmentRatings.com and other ratings sites? You’re not alone, but do you have the guts to do what this pizza joint in California is doing?

Botto Bistro in Richmond is not very concerned about its Yelp rating. In fact, in an effort to undermine the reliability of its Yelp page, the five-year-old Italian restaurant is on a mission to be the worst-rated restaurant in the Bay Area.

To achieve this end, Botto Bistro is encouraging all of its customers to leave one-star Yelp reviews; it is even offering deals for anyone who pens a crummy review: 25% off any pizza and a chance to win a cooking class. (Hat-tip toRichmond Standard.)

Chefs and co-owners Davide Cerretini and Michele Massimo are veterans of the local dining scene, and say that their food is excellent and they run a busy restaurant. According to Cerretini, they simply grew tired of the constant advertising inquiries from Yelp and what he dubs “blackmailing” and review manipulation. (Sidenote: A judge recently ruled that Yelp has the power to manipulate reviews.)..

Cerretini says that business has increased since he began waging this campaign against Yelp, though he notes that it’s also attracted better customers who are more loyal and end up spending more. “We are getting not just customers, but new friends who they like this.”

This is pretty gutsy, but it also goes to show how important it is to build and maintain a strong relationship with your customers. Those efforts will do more to build your business than a bunch of five star ratings online ever will.

2 thoughts on “Asking for Bad Reviews”

  1. I think the success of this tactic speaks to the fact that our society loves being a part of a cause and we admire people/businesses that do something different. Being average is easy. Do nothing. Be extraordinary is hard. Do something that others aren’t willing or brave enough to do.

    1. Totally agree Bill. Of course people will try and copy him and will be disappointed if they don’t get the same level of results, but only one company can be first with something like this and so only one company will enjoy the tremendous PR benefits. On the other hand, the principle of finding a way to not be a victim of another company’s product/service and to set your own ground rules is one that can be applied in many aspects of business.

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