Before you hit “submit” on that negative review, think about it from the business owner’s perspective

Labor Shortage Sign
Let’s be kind during the labor shortage

By Mitch Allen

For many complex reasons, there is a major labor shortage. Chief among them are government subsidies, increased personal savings, fear of Covid, and workers having a pandemic-induced existential crisis over whether the traditional work-a-lot/spend-a-lot lifestyle still applies to them.

Whatever the reasons, experts agree that the labor shortage will be with us a for a while yet. As a result, many local business owners have been forced to deal with the problem by shutting down, reducing operating hours, and/or working excessive overtime.

One Northeast Ohio café owner told me he cannot find enough people to keep his first location open seven days a week (he’s cut back to five days), let alone the 35 people he needs to hire to reopen his second location, which closed at the start of the pandemic.

“Our entire family cancelled our vacations, too,” he said. “We all have to work. Yesterday I opened and closed. It was a long day. Every day is a long day.”

I sympathized and asked if I could volunteer. He thanked me, but replied that his insurance company won’t cover anyone who is not on payroll, and he couldn’t risk me having an accident.

Under these stressful conditions, one of the best thing we consumers can do is to be supportive, patient and understanding. One way to do that is not to run out and leave a negative review immediately after a bad experience. We should stop and consider what the owner and the staff are going through. Some are stressed from working overtime. Some are afraid of getting Covid and passing it on to an immune-compromised relative. Some are new and don’t know the ropes yet. And some, frankly, may not be the same high-caliber people a business owner can find in better times. As one sign I saw read:

We are short-staffed right now and cannot find employees. Please be respectful to the ones who actually showed up today.
—The Management

And you know what? That’s our fault, we consumers. Being nice is something we should have learned in kindergarten. No business owner should have to remind us. Instead, now is the time to cut people some slack. I’m lucky. Not everyone gets to work from home in shorts and a t-shirt. Some people have to find a babysitter, wash a uniform, buy $5 worth of gas to get to work, find a parking spot, and stay on their feet for an 8-hour shift, only to be begged by their supervisor at quitting time to please stay and work an extra shift. They deserve our understanding and support.

Before you hit “submit” on a negative review, take a moment to think about what that business is going through right now. If you ultimately decide that the company indeed deserves the bad press, then submit it, but, as Jim Marshall, Mimi’s VP for Digital Sales and Fulfillment, has suggested, “Consider leaving 5-10 positive reviews for every negative review you write.”

As we all know, human beings by nature are more apt to complain about bad service than to compliment good service.

We can do better.

In the interest of full disclosure, the suite of digital marketing products Mimi offers includes Online Review Management. That means we coach business owners on how to respond to reviews, both positive and negative, and when it comes to negative reviews we’ve seen some doozies (some are so lacking in understanding, empathy and compassion that it’s challenging to maintain professionalism in a reply). We also help local businesses gently encourage customers to post a positive review, and to contact management when they have a disappointing experience instead of leaving a negative review.

Remember the old sign we used to see in small businesses long before the internet: “If you had a good experience, tell a friend. If you had a bad experience, tell the manager.”

Yes, let’s do that.

Categories: Smart Living