Starting Your Own Affiliate: Yelp!

If you are opening an affiliate, or any business for that matter, you may find yourself playing the waiting game. The number one lesson is that nobody works as fast as you or as fast as you would like them to. Patience is very very important and your ability to have patience will save you numerous anxiety attacks. If you have a solid plan and are in it for the right reasons, not even the city will keep you from doing it! 

Take the downtime as an opportunity to complete some smaller tasks that often are pushed aside once the business is up and running. In this post we will address the importance of the FREE Yelp! for Business Owners page. It is actually ideal to create this as soon as possible as we waited 2 weeks before we received confirmation and saw our page go live.

I actually do not believe you must have a personal Yelp! profile to claim or create your business page (if you are an existing business, there is a chance that someone has already posted your shop in order to review it. It is a simple process to claim it, especially if no one else has already done so). Once you visit Yelp.com, at the top there is a banner for Go to Yelp for Business owners. 

This gives you the opportunity to either "claim your business" or "sign up." Choose accordingly. I have not had to claim my business before as both have been brand new but I believe, it it is currently unclaimed, it involves sending an email and you confirming. The "sign up" option requires basic information such as name and contact info as well as the address/location and service type offered. Once you submit you are done.

And this is certainly anticlimactic. I found myself searching for Black Wolf over and over only to have nothing come up. I believe it was a solid 2-3 weeks before I received the email allowing me to "unlock" our page. At times I was fairly convinced we had been lost in the system. But, of course, it all worked out.

Now, here is the important part. Up until now you have only done what any bonehead would think to do (no, that does not make you a bonehead), so don't stop there. Go ahead, once you have unlocked your page, and complete as much information as possible. The contact information is certainly the most important. Be sure it is an accurate telephone number and be certain your website connects properly. Now, here's a secret. Everyone has a Yelp! page. So put photos up that truly represent your amazing business and community. Prove that people actually attend your classes. Show how beautiful your facility is. If you have something unique, like showers, take pictures of them! 

NOTE: OFTEN THOSE THAT FIND YOU THROUGH YELP! ARE NOT CURRENT CROSSFITTERS MEANING THEY HAVE NO EXPERIENCE (WHICH ARE THE BEST KIND OF CLIENTS IN MY OPINION). THEY DONT KNOW ABOUT YOUR REPUTATION (GOOD OR BAD) SO THINGS LIKE PHOTOS AND LANGUAGE ARE GOING TO GO A LONG LONG WAY IN GETTING THEM TO VISIT! CROSSFITTERS WILL ASK THEIR FRIENDS OR CHECK FACEBOOK. NEWCOMERS TRUST YELP!

It is my opinion that people will search for "CrossFit" or maybe "fitness" based on their location. Obviously your location will be accurate. But, as we know, gyms are a dime a dozen. You can't throw a rock out your front door without hitting an affiliate on the tin roof. So once a bagillion options come up within walking distance they will begin to mill through the results based on ratings. Assuming you don't have a 2 star rating, you are still in the race. Unless there is a particular review that really catches their eye, they will continue to search for something that jumps out at them. That is why having a complete Yelp! profile is so important. It may be the photos, it may be your logo, it may be your hours, it may be your bio. Who knows?! So fill it all out. It will take you twenty minutes to get it done so just get going.

WARNING: Once you have created a Yelp for Business page, employees from Yelp's advertising department are going to call the bejeazous out of you. Like every day or two with another sales pitch. It is absolutely your business if you advertise with Yelp!. It certainly would be beneficial to pop up at the top of every search and a traditional marketing campaign may be the way to go. Just be prepared. At this point if a San Francisco phone number calls I do not answer. Yelp! is an absolutely great asset to have and it really will drive traffic through your doors (if you run a quality establishment). Yelp! also does a great job of tracking how many people click through to your website or who clicks on your phone number. All useful information to have.

Finally, once it is all filled out, I would begin to mention the existence of the Yelp! page to your core group of clients. I am not a fan of outright solicitation. I believe that if your client is proud to workout in your community then they will love writing about it. And, in my opinion, if a client is unhappy with something and you are running your business for the right reasons, they will bring it to you long before they smear you online. Getting a couple of 5 star reviews on your page is going to be the key. Nobody wants to join a medicare gym. The honest answer is to work your butt off and earn those reviews. But the business savvy answer may be to suggest that if a client loves what they have taken part in then maybe they can tell the world. 

Go get your Yelp! Page up and going! 

-Ben