Week 16: Social Media with Kiss Your Grits

Sweetly Say “Screw You” to Salty Online Reviews

I know many service-based business owners, especially restaurants, who live and die by each and every online review. Maybe it’s Yelp, TripAdvisor, or on Facebook. A positive review means they are walking on air. A negative review has them heading to their own happy hour.

Just like any business owner, Leigh and Margaret’s Kiss Your Grits Community Bowl is their baby. When someone talks smack about baby, mama (in this case two mamas) gets really upset. You might ask, “who would talk smack about a New Orleans’ food truck that helps the community?”

When it comes to food, ESPECIALLY in New Orleans, people LOVE to be a critic.

I told the ladies of Kiss Your Grits it’s not a matter of if a bad review happens, but when.

When a bad review happens, do the same thing you would do when a good review happens. Read it, read it again, walk away. Twerk, punch a couple couch cushions, whatever. Get all emotion out before coming back to the phone or keyboard. The goal is to not be overly emotional one way or the other.

Come back to the review and analyze it. Be impartial. Good or bad, treat each review as free feedback that can help make your business better. If 9 out of 10 reviewers say the wacky circus clown hostess you hired makes people wet themselves, maybe its time to send those creepy plastic shoes walking out the door. If 9 out of 10 customers say they love that certain menu item, maybe you concentrate on promoting that one item.

Once analysis is over, now comes time to respond. I’m a big fan of responding to reviews, good and bad. Responding to good reviews should come natural. Be short and sweet. Don’t gush too much, but definitely gush.

How do you handle negative reviews? Kill them with an apology, some kindness, and a vague hint that you might do something nice for them via a private form of communication.


Customer review, “Jeff’s social media sucks and he called me a big stupid head.”

Me: “Wow, I’m sorry about that. Obviously there must have been some miscommunication. I really want to try and make things better between us. Why don’t you email me, jeff@jeffjanuszek.com? I promise I’ll make your next experience amazing!”

That person very well may never contact me, but my response is still a win for my business. Why? Potential customers read both the good and bad reviews.

You just made yourself look like a sane, rational, and caring business owner interested in becoming better. How a business responds to a bad review is just as important as getting a 5 star rating from a super fan.

Prepare yourself. No matter how much good you do in the world, one day someone will leave a bad review. Just remember to take a deep breath and spin it in your favor. Taking the high road is the best way to say “screw you” to bad online reviews.