Last weekend I had the pleasure of being in Melbourne for an exhibition.
This was to be my first time in ages that I had a whole 36 hours to myself- bliss!
So as I settled into my hotel I got busy on my phone looking up restaurant and cafe recommendations to see where I could get breakfast, dinner etc.
I was pleasantly surprised to find there is a thriving community of online reviewers who aren’t afraid to comment on the good, the bad and the downright ugly when it came to local businesses. The comments were made recently which meant I knew that someone had been to these places not long ago.
As I was staying near universities, it made sense that many of the eateries had comments & reviews- even as far as saying things like “this may be good enough for students but not to take the family”.
And as I suspected, the older generation of hospitality owners did not seem to be aware of the comments-to the detriment of their own businesses.
I read about the Greek restaurant closest to my hotel- a review caught my eye with the headline “awful place, dont visit if you’re a young woman” with the comments from a young lady that she had tried the place twice and was not only harassed by the drunks in there late at night but by the owner the 2nd time as well.
I decided to stay clear of that place for sure!
There were many places that had fabulous reviews and people certainly had their favourites, so it made it fun to see if these places lived up to their reputations (and they did!).
Not only were there many restaurants reviewed by those who had eaten there but so there were many retail shops that had reviews as well. With so many tourists descending on this city on weekends, it was not uncommon to be stopped in the street to be asked where certain shops were. After being asked the 3rd time about a certain shop, I thought, “wow, something must be happening there”, so of course I was straight onto my phone to see what comments had been made.
I found a sale that was on that weekend so, of course I had to check it out!
This all confirms what I have thought before- that small businesses must be keeping an eye on what is being written about them and keep writing themselves to show that you are in touch with your customers. I have seen plenty of business Facebook pages that have comments and questions by customers, with no comment back by the business itself.
Does it mean the business owner doesn’t answer questions? Probably not, however when you look for the first time at a business Facebook page, if the owner is never commenting back to the customers questions- it gives you the impression they don’t care. What if I had the same question and see that 3 months later the question still isn’t answered??
We all want to know a real live person is at the end of that page, who can solve our question!
Paul Wallbank has written a wonderful blog recently lamenting the fact that small businesses aren’t proudly showing their addresses on the outside of their businesses.
Why hide your address?There’s a lot of concern about businesses not having a website with estimates that between 40 and 60% of all enterprises simply don’t have a website and most aren’t using social media.
Businesses who haven’t bothered setting up a site, or at least a free Facebook or Google Places listing are missing out on customers, but even many organisations with an online presence aren’t publicising them well.
So the moral to this story? Set yourself up in Google Places (it’s free) and start sharing your site with others because as retail is hurting, you can offer your customers a real face behind your business to show that you care!