A Cautionary Tale About the Power of the Internet, Online Reviews and Reputation Management
The Power of the Internet can Easily Make or Break a Business. It started when one of the restaurants former customers brought a discrimination lawsuit, stating that he'd been banned because he uses a wheelchair. Subsequently, the owner gave an interview on a local radio station. His statements included a large amount of homophobic content, racism, and expression of strong feelings against anyone unfortunate enough to be to be disabled and receiving welfare. No big deal so far, a little storm in a local teacup. Perhaps as little as 10 years ago, certainly 20, that would have been the end of the story, a few weeks of ruffled feathers, a bit of a scandal and then it would have all died down.
That was in the days before Yelp, Google Plus or Facebook. The restaurant now has more than 150 reviews on Yelp.
Internet Reputation is More Important than Ever Nowadays
Some are straightforward, simply giving a single star review and citing the owners attitude to minorities as a reason to avoid giving him custom. Other reviewers have been more imaginative, actually recommending the bar as gay friendly, describing the (highly unlikely!) clothing worn by Gary and his staff. The venue is currently listed as a gay bar on Facebook. On one level this is the internet at it's most imaginative, though one could fear for the safely of any solo gay man who takes the reviews at face value.
The restaurant has achieved a degree of notoriety that in the days before local search platforms,and online reviews would have been impossible.
That small percentage of the population who share the owner's extreme views will regard him as a hero, the majority however will not ,and overall it's hard to imagine that this series of events will be good for business.
Gary James may not care what reviewers are saying about him.
He may regard himself as standing up for his principals, for his right to decide who is, or is not welcome in his premises, maybe he sees this as a freedom of speech issue. Perhaps these things are more important to him than his income.
Tell the Internet why Your Business is Worth it.
Or maybe this particular businessman simply didn't realise how powerful the internet is.
These days, whatever actions you choose to take, you can and will be held accountable for them on public forums, on both a local and a world wide stage.
It's a reality that every business owner needs to take to heart. You can choose to ignore the internet if you dare, but don't assume it will ignore you.
Find out how Local Fame can help you avoid the pitfalls of the web, check out our reputation management package. It really is far better to take control of your online profile than to leave it up to others to decide what's said about you.