Boone’s Big BooBoo – Lesson Learned

Why it’s not wise to have your mechanic pull your wisdom tooth!

Lesson from Boone’s Big BooBoo: Don’t let your mechanic pull your wisdom tooth!
Stop taking marketing advice from your under-qualified staff (and we mean that in the nicest way).

This is going to sound harsh, but we have to say it anyway. It is our duty, and our mission. Stop taking marketing advice from your ignorant staff (and we mean that in the nicest way). They may be great members of your team, but they are NOT marketing experts and they are not business strategists.


Imagine you go in to your local auto repair shop to get something on your vehicle checked out. While standing in the garage, as your mechanic pops your hood, and you happen to mention that you have a toothache and think you need to get your wisdom teeth pulled, but you’re concerned about the cost. Your mechanic turns back to look at you with a twinkle in his eye. Excitedly he says with great enthusiasm in his voice, “Hey, I can help you out!  Don’t worry. I got this. I pull spark plugs all the time. I’m sure I can pull your wisdom tooth too. And I’ll give you a discount to boot!”

Would you do it? Of course you wouldn’t!

Yet, sometimes when it comes to critically important and strategic decisions about business, why do some managers let those who are unqualified lead them down a path of ultimate destruction? While your staff may be well intentioned, they are not strategic business counsellors, and taking advice from them without understanding market trends, it’s simply not wise.

Take Boone’s Fish House and Oyster Room in Portland, Maine as an example.

Boone’s Big Boo Boo #1

Prospective client (and restaurant owner) turns down a reputation management package because his “greeter” of six months and the cook in the back told him it was too hard to collect email addresses.

The proposed program would have allowed Boone’s to send a feedback link to all patrons after their dining experience was over.  Five star reviews would be automatically auto-populated to the most popular and trusted review sites online (Yelp, Google and Facebook), while suppressing all negative reviews.  This would allow Boone’s to display their 5 star reviews on multiple sites at once and instantly increase their reputation online (usually within just a few days). Not to mention, it would help them to surpass most of their competition, as most people do not leave a second review after providing their feedback once.

Benefits to the program would have included not only automatically increasing their star rating on the most reputable sites online, Boone’s would also have had their five-star review from one patron displayed on multiple sites, whereas most reviewers will only post on one site. Therefore, with this strategy, one positive five star review turns into five or ten. This is not something that business owners could ever do online on their own.  But Boone’s staff is not thinking about this, are they?  Why collect email addresses that could solve your poor online reputation problem (which they don’t seem to think they have despite their 3.6 average star rating and being ranked 177 out of 180 restaurants in Portland, Maine with respect to star ratings and reputation online). Too much hassle? Perhaps. But not a very strategic decision, is it?

Boone’s Big Boo Boo #2

Boone’s has a 3.6 star rating on #Yelp and #Google (2 of the most #trusted review sites), and has the third lowest star ratings of ALL 180 #restaurants in #portland #maine only beating Lang’s Chinese Food (3.2 star rating) and Bill’s Pizza (3.5 star rating).

All other upscale restaurants in Maine have at least a 4.0, including their main competitors: Eventide – 4.6,  Js Oyster – 4.3, Old Port Sea Grill and Raw Bar – 4.3, Portland Lobster Company – 4.3 and DiMillos on the Water – 4.4.

Google doesn’t even present Boone’s as a top option anymore because of their low score.  So, why is this dangerous for Boone’s exactly?

A recent local consumer survey on online reviews, statistics and trends found that 49% of consumers wouldn’t dine at a restaurant with less than a 4 star rating.  Simply put, negative reviews drive away customers.  94 percent of people report an online review has convinced them to avoid a business. Additionally, customers don’t typically trust businesses with lower than 4-star ratings. 80 percent of consumers say the star ratings they trust the most are 4.0, 4.5, and 5 stars (Online Reviews Report by Review Trackers, 2017). Boone’s staff doesn’t know this, do they? Why would they? Yet, they are making strategic business decisions that have a significant impact on their restaurant’s bottom line.

Boone’s Big Boo Boo #3 – Leaving money on the table.

Speaking of bottom lines, recent studies from Harvard and the University of California, Berkeley Haas found an undeniable correlation between the number of stars a business has and an increase in their income. Michael Luca, Associate Professor at Harvard Business School found a business can increase their revenue by 5 – 10% by adding a one star in an online review. Another study conducted by two economists, Professors Michael Anderson and Jeremy Magruder of Berkeley Haas, published in the Economic Journal, found a half star change in a Yelp review can make or break a restaurant.

They found that moving from 3 stars to 3.5 stars increased a restaurant’s chance of selling out during prime dining times from 13% to 34% (a 21% increase). Moving from 3.5 stars to 4 stars increased the chance of selling out during prime dining times by 19 percentage points (a jump from 30 to 49 percent more likely that a restaurant will sell out its seats during peak hours). Simply put, restaurants with strong reviews do better business than poorly reviewed restaurants because now and more increasingly so in the future, stars and online reviews play an increasingly important role in how consumers judge the quality of goods and services.

Why not improve your reputation online if you have the chance?

Was the decision not to get a reputation management package that could so obviously help Boone’s improve their poor online reputation and poor star rating a matter of cost and cash, ignorance or laziness, lack of resources, lack of trust, belief, training – what? We may never know. Because REALLY even if a small business didn’t want to collect email addresses (and how hard is it to do really when many small businesses easily collect email addresses all of the time – sign in, sign up, promos and mail you your receipt etc.), Boone’s already has an email list of over 10,000 people, and they could have simply sent the reputation management link to their existing database. No additional work on their part required.


It’s not very “wise” to let your mechanic pull your wisdom tooth. 

At the end of the day, Boones’ manager was taking strategic business advice from staff that are not knowledgeable (or as invested) in such matters.  They are not marketing experts, so, why should they/would they care?  They may be great in the kitchen or great greeters, great staff with great ideas, but they don’t think strategically, and they likely don’t understand business to the degree they should to make revenue-impacting decisions. They’re just giving their (very inexperienced, unaware) opinions. Costly mistake.

Got to many customers? Already too busy? 
“We’ve got line ups around the block in the summertime,” their manager says, “Staff are pulling 65 hour weeks.” So, who cares about your #onlinereputation right?? #shame. It’s better to turn business away because you are too busy than have people think about you and view you negatively online.  So, guess what, lots of people care, and you should too! Here’s why. Reputation marketing is the future of online marketing. Millenials trust them, and they are the consumers of the future. So, while things might be ok now, they may not stay that way for long. And by the time you figure out why business is declining… it may be too late.


The future of online marketing – Why reputation matters. 

Small business owners are notoriously late adopters of new technology, meaning they tend to adopt technological innovations long after the average member of the society. These individuals approach an innovation with a high degree of #skepticism and only adopt it after the majority of society has adopted (and benefitted from) new technology, tactics or techniques.

The problem with adopting helpful technologies long after the majority of society has, is they miss out of the lucrative opportunities these technologies provide and only join the space after it is crowded, out-dated and stale and no longer effective. These late adopters only believe in the new system after it has proven itself in the market place. That’s when they decide to adopt it too, thinking it will work for them, and produce the same results. And when it doesn’t work (after it has worked for everybody else) try as they may, they get confused, dejected and wonder why this amazing tactic that has worked so well for everybody else –  isn’t working for them.

REPUTATION MANAGEMENT – a perfect example.

Talk to a small business owner today about reputation management, and they look at you like you have two heads. This is because they are not looking at trends that are taking place online. They are looking at (and investing) in trends that have passed.

For example, many businesses are only now actively adopting social media management as a business strategy and method to promote their business. This is completely fine, but it’s also a completely crowded space. There is so much social media noise these days. So, if people aren’t paying attention to social media as much anymore, what are they paying attention to?  They are looking at your online reputation, and reviews.

Article by: Dichelle Yan
Dichelle Yan holds an Hon. BA Sociology from the University of Toronto and a Master of Business Administration, Marketing Concentration from Northeastern University in Boston, MA.

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