Bill Tancer's new book explains how restaurateurs can use online review websites to their restaurants' benefit.

Star Power: Leveraging Online Reviews

Today, more than 80 percent of the U.S. population reads online reviews before making any type of purchase. These reviews have tremendous influence, with Millennials even preferring online reviews to the recommendations of friends and family. For restaurants, websites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor are critical in both attracting customers and pushing them away.

In his new book Everyone’s a Critic: Winning Customers in a Review-Driven World, Bill Tancer teaches business owners how to harness the power of online reviews to increase profit and experience. Tancer interviewed more than 100 business owners for the book and heard one common theme: They do not like online review sites.

Tancer goes to the root of this problem, addressing transparency and legal issues with websites like Yelp, as well as the difficulty in accepting criticism.

Everyone’s a Critic also tackles how to deal with reviews of all types. Strategies range from simply thanking the reviewer to turning colorful, negative responses into creative publicity strategies. Readers witness successes and failures in handling reviews through the stories of real businesses.

Ignoring any review, even when it is difficult to read, can be disastrous. A Harvard Business School study confirmed a direct correlation between a rating increase on Yelp and revenue growth, showing that reviews must be addressed. Tancer offers a five-step process for businesses to craft a customized response strategy focusing on passion and transparency.

Through a combination of statistical analysis and real-life anecdotes, Tancer breaks down the virtual review world and the steps every business owner should take to leverage the power of star ratings. With Tancer’s advice, online review sites are not a danger, but an opportunity.