Being a responsible reviewer

Today  I felt the compelling need to come back home after my 12 hour work day just to sit and write this article and vent out my frustration.I want to talk about this current trend of leaving “reviews” for a business and being responsible for what you write.The trigger for my frustration is a lady who was running a cake business was being pushed to depression and suicidal thoughts because of some of the reviews written by customers who won a free cake through a raffle and the lady wasn’t able to fulfill their cakes because of a major health issue needing immediate surgery.  In spite of the lady explaining her reasons to cancel the customer left a relentless review on her business page.

I would have probably been unaware of the damage that caused her and her business until I quit my IT job and ventured into being an entrepreneur myself.There is a crazy amount of work that goes into the research, learning and working towards building a reputable name in the business world for a product. The business owner spends infinite sleepless nights toiling to get their business to generate a decent income. Most businesses don’t even generate enough revenue until 6 months to a year at the least to break even.That means they are working on zero pay until they start seeing a profit.Let’s assume you are a salaried person, would you work for your employer with no pay for one year? No right?I’m talking about small business owners here, not the chain companies.

I just want to brief you about what it means to be a small business owner.

  • Rent: The business owner needs to pay rent, irrespective of their revenue and often time the lease of the property runs anywhere for 5 years to 10 years. That means they are tied to it for that period of time and they are not allowed to take a day off or a week off just because they feel like it.
  • Employees: Most businesses need employees, that involved training them, paying their wages, abiding by the minimum wage requirements of the state, Employment practices liability insurance/ workers compensation insurance, employment tax, running payroll etc
  • Business licenses: Every state in the US requires a ton of permits and licenses before you can even sell a single cupcake to a customer.To give you an example, a cottage food operation(those selling products from home) require a business license, sellers permit, zoning permit, filing for an entity, food safety certification, food labels for every product, proof of water and sewage- All these processes take up a good 1000$- 2000$ depending on the state for each year.
  • Market research: Each business owner spends a lot of time in researching market trends to find the customers needs and price their product accordingly so they can be successful.
  • Building a brand: Involves working on a strong product which can appeal to customers and branding pricing etc.Includes websites, business cards, stationery etc for their brand.
  • Bookkeeping: Every business needs to maintain accounts to track every penny they spend and every penny they earn to be able to run a successful business
  • Filing Taxes: As you know every business needs to file taxes each year.
  • Marketing: Work on getting the word out to the right customers about their product.
  • Staying abreast with Competition and Trend: In this age of ever changing trend, the business owner should still be ahead of the trend to continue to attract their customers.

Now, this is not an exhaustive list, I can keep going on and on…….Can you imagine the amount of time and effort that goes into all of this? And the business owner works towards all this just to see a review of an unreasonable customer bashing them.

There are different types of reviewers and its ok to belong to any of these categories but be responsible about it,

  • Some that don’t write negative reviews as a policy
  • Few that only write if they have something negative to say
  • Some who are very easily impressed and give everyone an awesome review
  • Non-reviewers- people who don’t write a review ever

Just two days ago I came across another article where a cake customer give a cake business a 1-star review because they thought it was over priced. The customer simply writes it was too much money for a 1 tier cake, later from the business owners reply it came to light that it was a double barrel cake with tons of fondant details requested by the customer. It is fair that the customer can choose not to place the order with them because it may be out of their budget, but to leave a 1-star review for that? Most “current generation customers” do this because of their frustration of not being able to get what they wanted. I’m 100% sure the customer didn’t have a clue about the cost of running a business and that the cost gets distributed between the number of orders the business gets over a tax year, not to mention the cost of supplies and the time spent by the business in fulfilling that order. But no, they choose to be a baby and whine and leave a 1-star out of revenge just so the business can be ruined.One bad rating can really affect their sales.

In my honest opinion, a review is supposed to help prospective customers or the business owners. Customers to gauge the product and business owners to make improvements to their product.In this scenario there was no improvement the business owner could make, that is just a plain and irresponsible review. Rather they could have helped in writing “that they wanted XYZ in the cake and it was pricey for them”. Maybe that would help the right set of customers reaching out to that business who are able to afford that price.

I once had someone who never tried my product rate my business.It was a good star rating but I refused to accept it, I got in touch with them and got them to remove it. I put my blood sweat and tears in my business and I don’t need false advertisement for it.I’d rather take a review or an honest feedback from someone who has tried my product.

If you are writing a review be precise about what you liked and what you did not like, take a moment and take your temper down and write what is it that can be changed or what is it that you liked. I came across a yelper once who left 1-star reviews on each one of the 50 or so reviews he left for different businesses. Can you imagine what he wrote? “Worst food ever, never go back to this place” for almost all the businesses he reviewed. Is there a single advantage to that review to a prospective customer or to the business owner? It is fine you don’t like it, you are free to give them any star rating that you like but say that it wasn’t according to your palette or you like spicy food and it was bland or you expected it to be a certain way and it wasn’t. Every customer will not have the same taste and palette as you do, in leaving a blanket statement about a business being worst, you are turning away 100s of prospective customers without even giving them a chance to at least explore their product.

If you liked the food and you did not like the service or did not like the ambiance or that it was noisy, mention that precisely, maybe not every customer is looking for what you were looking for in that business. Or if it was a cake, say you loved the cake and the decoration could be cleaner or the cake was dry but the decoration was perfect. Take the time to write the pros and cons. Please do your part in being a responsible reviewer and helping local and small business owners build a strong product.Better yet, try contacting the business personally and let them know about an experience you’ve had at their place and what you’d like to change about it.

There are 100s of things that can go wrong for a business, don’t be the 101st reason for their failure, rather help them out to build a better product. Most businesses will be open to offering to discount or coupon for rectifying a mistake that happened unknowingly…

Be a Responsible Reviewer…..




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