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Reputation management services are everywhere and many of them will tell you that a negative review could spell disaster. The truth is, though, that in some circumstances, a negative review or two could actually be a benefit to your online presence. Let’s talk about why…

Reputation Management: Why a Negative Review or Two Isn’t Always Bad

Let’s begin with the obvious – When we say that a negative review or two isn’t always a bad thing, we aren’t talking about a devastating review from a leading food critic – this obviously isn’t beneficial!

We also aren’t talking about a review that points out serious violations – for example, rats in your restaurant – sorry, that’s never going to be a good thing!

So, what do we mean?

Here’s an example –

You and some friends are starving and you are looking for a different restaurant to try for dinner. You all get online to see what restaurants there are to choose from. Knowing that one of the best locations to find information about restaurants and other businesses is online review sites, you head there once you have picked out a few places you would like to try.

You have chosen three restaurants and you look each one up on the review site.

Restaurant one has 100% glowing reviews, great food, great atmosphere, great service.

Restaurant two has 98% glowing reviews, most are similar to the reviews for restaurant one, but two reviewers complained that they had to wait longer than expected for their tables and one of the two was also disappointed that the prime rib was no longer available when it came time to order.

Restaurant three has 50% glowing reviews and 50% scathing reviews. Many customers were disappointed with the food and the service and more than a few commented that the ambient music was so loud that they couldn’t hear their dinner companions.

Obviously, restaurant three is off the table. How about restaurant one and two?

Restaurant one sounds great, but if the restaurant is so great and the food is so good, wouldn’t customers have to wait a little longer to be seated? Wouldn’t at least one customer get upset about waiting? Or, as in the second example, be upset that the prime rib was sold out? Yes, there is a possibility that everyone who reviewed the restaurant was pleased with their food – so much so that they were willing to overlook long waits or a special dish being sold out.


Based on what you know about people in today’s society, how likely is it that no one had a complaint?

You have to admit that it has become commonplace for people to expect service now, and for their needs to be placed above those of others. Of course, this doesn’t apply to everyone, but there is always going to be at least one person who feels so entitled. Technically, this means that you should see at least one negative review that mentions having to wait or not being able to order the food that they wanted.

So, when you look at restaurant one again, what do you see?

If you’re like us, you see something a little questionable. Is it possible that this restaurant really is that great? Sure, and would we be willing to give that restaurant a try? Of course.

But we’re just pointing out that if we were looking for a restaurant that is going to offer up delicious food and great service, those things mean having to wait longer. These things come with the territory. They are the effect of the cause. And, in today’s society, we would expect at least one or two reviewers to award a review that is less than perfect.

Where does that leave us?

Restaurant two seems like a fairly good option now, doesn’t it?

Looking at restaurant one, it seems a little “too good to be true”. We may visit to see for ourselves, but given the choice, if we want a good experience, we are more likely going to choose restaurant two. We’d hang on to restaurant one for a day when we aren’t starving – this means that a) if there is a long wait, we won’t be uncomfortable b) If the reviews were fake and the restaurant isn’t everything it’s made out to be, we won’t think twice about finding somewhere else to eat.

But what type of negative comments are acceptable and what type of negative comments are a true red flag?

Here are a few of our thoughts…

Don’t Panic if Reviewers Mention…

  • A longer than usual wait time (unless they specifically mention a wait time that is excessive, for example, waiting for two hours in the doctor’s waiting room for an appointment you made months ago.)
  • A menu special not being available when a diner sits down to eat.

Consider a Business if Reviewers Mention…

  • An experience with rude staff – you are only hearing one side of the story. (The exception being a large number of reviews mentioning rude staff.)

Avoid a Business if Reviewers Mention…

  • Any health and safety violations.
  • Specific behavior that opposes your morals/ethical beliefs.

Ultimately, the businesses that you choose to patronize is up to you and what you deem “worthy” and “unworthy” of your business, is also up to you. As a business owner, that decision is up to your patrons too, we’re just saying that sometimes one or two mildly negative reviews give the impression of a more authentic restaurant where flawless reviews can raise some questions…

Are You Looking For Reputation Management Assistance For Your Business?

If you are looking for reputation management help for your business, Online Presence Manager can help. To find out how we can help you, give us a call today at 727-475-6460 for a free consultation!

OPM John

Author OPM John

I've been digital marketing since the Commodore 64. I specialize in providing fully managed digital marketing and local SEO services for businesses. When I'm not managing a SMB presence, I post reputation, SEO, and social media management tips for business owners.

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