Are Online Review Sites Hurting Local Business?

By | October 7, 2016

Are Online Reviews Hurting Your Local Business?Is your local business slowing down? Has the phone stopped ringing? Are you getting fewer calls for your plumbing business, home repair service or other local service business? Or, are you finding it difficult to attract customers for your new local service business?

If you're having trouble getting customers to call, the culprit could be bad reviews or too few reviews on Yelp, Angie's List, Google or other online review sites warns a study published by, a company that provides mobile and web apps for managing independent service businesses.

Bad Reviews Hurt Business

The study, which analyzed 600 random Yelp reviews in 4 verticals (general contractors/handimen, plumbers, electricians and HVAC), found that 43% of complaints on Yelp directly resulted in lost business, with customers either cancelling appointments or taking follow-up business elsewhere.  The most frequent causes for complaints, the study found, were scheduling problems, price, customer service and work quality.

Too Few or No Reviews Are Bad, Too

Equally worrisome for local businesses, the Breezeworks study discovered that the number of reviews a company has on Yelp can play a big role in whether a business is seen at all. According to the report, when Yelp users sort reviews by “highest rated” or “most reviewed”  99% of businesses are hidden because Yelp doesn't just push businesses with few reviews down the page, it doesn't display them at all on the list.

Those findings are particularly troubling considering that a study by finds that  92% of consumers read online reviews of businesses, and 68% say positive reviews make them trust a local business more. An earlier study had found that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

So, how can your local business improve your chances of being found in online review sites and of getting favorable reviews? Providing outstanding service is imperative. But in addition, Breezeworks makes these suggestions:

  • Encourage your satisfied customers to leave reviews on Yelp and other review sites.
  • Keep customers up-to-date on scheduling issues, calling or warning them if there's a delay.
  • Provide customers with detailed estimates and invoices, so they know exactly what they are being billed for.
  • Keep notes on customer and job history to to provide more personalized experiences and build repeat business.
Author: Janet Attard

Janet Attard is a small business expert and the founder and CEO of She is the author of several books and has written for magazines and websites as well as

4 thoughts on “Are Online Review Sites Hurting Local Business?

  1. Erik Bledsoe

    Nice article! This is a topic that I could talk about for hours and hours. I own a small web design and web development firm and have been in business for over a decade. It is always a struggle getting even my best clients to take the time to leave reviews. I am lucky that I am not fighting with negative reviews of my business but just trying to get 1 review can be like pulling teeth!

    Plus where do you want to focus when it comes to reviews, Google, Yelp, Thumbtack, ….. the list of places clients can leave a review is almost endless. I have the most success in getting reviews by walking the client through the process step by step on the phone with them. Takes more time on my part, but at least a get a review sometimes!

    Most of the time people who are upset are the only ones that leave reviews. As small business owners, we all need to band together and leave reviews for other small businesses because WE know how it feels to work so hard and not get the vital reviews we need!

    Anyone else have any tips or suggestions?

    1. Tim Rilley

      Hi,Eric. Except Yelp,Google+ and Thumbtack exist the so called Customers Network– a social network where the Business an d the customers are friends.Besides-you can still advertise,but without annoying the other members of the network.This are only two of the reasons my plumbers services are registered there.Not on Yelp or on Andgie’s list 

      Regards:Tim Rilley

  2. Michael Andy

    Thank you for sharing such an important post. This post really describes so many business terms which a beginner need to know if he/she want to start their own business without any obligation.

  3. Tom Samual

    Thanks for these tips! I’m trying to start a carpet cleaning business and have noticed a lot of my efforts are going to be focused with online stuff. My competitors already have a lot of reviews and I need to know how to start to get my own when I get started. I do fear getting bad reviews but I guess it’s a good thing too. Without those bad reviews, some companies that are actually not that good could still be out there doing poor quality work.


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