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Oh Yelp. How I love to hate thee. Yelp and I have a, uhhh, somewhat tumultuous relationship. I have blogged about Yelp before, and Yelp is an entity that continues to equally tantalize and frustrate me, as a business owner.

At its core, I think that Yelp is a great forum. It allows people to comment on the good, bad and ugly about a particular business. However, being on the receiving end of a negative comment is pretty traumatic. I don’t think that reviewers fully understand how detrimental a bad review can be to a business. It has gotten so heated in other cities, like San Francisco (a HUGE Yelper city), that some business owners have sued the reviewers! Now, I think that is ridiculous, and I am a firm believer in free speech. I also understand that when you are dealing with the public, you open yourself up to public scrutiny and comment. Fortunately, over the years, roughly 96% of our comments have been fabulous and glowing. The comments that are not 5 star are infrequent, and I am always accountable for an experience that is not stellar. These comments keep us humble, and on our toes. That is invaluable for the growth and evolution of every business. But sometimes, it’s like a knife in the heart.

Last night I was having dinner with some lovely gals at Laurelhurst Market. Have you been there yet? If not, stop reading this immediately and go. The food is unbelievably delicious, especially the mussels in creme fraiche broth covered by a giant pile of pommes frites. Wait, let me take a moment to wipe the drool from my keyboard. Ok. Back on topic. So, one of my friends is an assistant manager at a Starbucks in Seattle. She told me that if she has a customer that is any way unhappy with their beverage, she would expect them to let her know so that she could make it right. She wondered why, if people felt comfortable complaining about a $4 coffee they don’t feel comfortable complaining about a $70 Brazilian. I always wonder the exact same thing! It’s your money people! You have a right to get what you pay for!

My dream is that if someone wasn’t thrilled with their experience at Urban Waxx, they would tell us! Maybe not walk up to the front desk and spill the beans immediately, I mean I know that can be awkward, but email me, or call me, or send me a smoke signal. I make myself super accessible to the public for a reason: I want them to be able to reach me. I will never be one of those owners that shows up once a month to do paperwork and then vanishes. I am always available. My staff knows that, and I wish our clients would understand that. It is my pleasure to solve a problem. If a client doesn’t like an experience at Urban Waxx for ANY reason, my solution is always the same: Come in for a free wax with me, or I will refund your service. Immediately. No questions asked. I am not in the business of forcing people to love Urban Waxx. I am in the business of making people satisfied. If a client leaves and feels like we weren’t a good fit for them, then I want to know. I know lots of other waxing salons in Portland and I will happily refer them! I want clients to come to us and love us, to tell their friends about us, to look forward to seeing us! If they don’t feel like that, well, then we aren’t doing our jobs properly.

I wish that clients would use Yelp as a last resort. Like, say they thought we weren’t so hot. Then they contacted us and let us know they weren’t happy and I just didn’t care. THEN Yelp would be a way for them to air their feelings about a business. I’m sure that most business owners would jump at the opportunity to get a second chance to please a customer. I know I would! However, I also know that sometimes people don’t feel comfortable talking openly about their dislikes, which is why forums like Yelp are so popular. I guess we all just need to understand that there is weight to our words. Heavy.