Use ‘Check-in’ on Yelp to promote your business

Your business will suffer when number of new customers decline. Before the smartphone age, we could sit and wait for “new” customers to come in, but now people see “you” in the palm of their hand. Even though you want to appeal to them on their smartphones, the expense and lack of knowledge kept you waiting in your store like you always have. Well, it’s time your tried check-in on the Yelp page.

There is an easy way to do this and I would like to explain how I have been doing it for my Mr. Shoewash store.

If Yelp’s reviews can be bought, Yelp would have been gone a long time ago. There is a store with 25 employees with annual sales over 5 million dollars. This store has over 900 reviews and has 3-star rating. If possible, this store would have bought its way to a 5-star rating.

A good location and word of mouth is still important but consumers these days rely heavily on ‘search-before-visit’ way of shopping. And most people rely on Yelp’s review so much so search engines like Google will show top 10 results from Yelp first.

Please visit and do a search for ‘dry cleaner’ in your city and state. Your store should come up in the top 5, or at least 10 results. If your review is good, your store will come up even in adjacent location searches. I’m talking about ‘all results’ below ‘sponsored results.’ 

MZ generation buys lots of designer brands’ clothes so they have a high demand for dry cleaning service. They also share a lot of information on social media. To attract them, you have to take care of your online ratings because:

  • unhappy customers keep new customers from coming in
    In old days, unhappy customers kept several of their family or friends from coming. Now when they give you a 1-star rating, they keep many new customers from coming. Best way to fight this is to ask your loyal customers to give you a 5-star rating.

  • My local customers can go to a different location
    In the past, a good location counted a lot. But with Yelp search being so popular, people do not mind going elsewhere to follow good reviews. If your ranking is below the 15th place, you’re basically shut off from Yelpers.

You might argue that dry cleaning customers value a real-life experience but you need to accept the search-before-visit mentality of today’s customers.

I have maximized my online rating by asking “new” customers as well as my existing ones to do ‘check-ins’ on I suggest you try it right now. These check-ins are free for registered Yelp users and only available from smartphones. You can submit one review but check-ins are allowed every time you visit a store. Checking in can earn you badges and special offers so it is good for your customers, too.

Can you remember when you saw a printed copy of Yellow Page? Online searches are a fact of life now.

When your customers ‘check in,’ they get a ‘You’re Checked In’ message and they can leave a comment then or later. More customer check-ins will increase your store’s page visit count and your rating.

I use ‘Joa Tag’ to make my customer’s check-in easy. Just make a print out, and ask your customer to scan the QR code. This will automatically link to your Yelp page. You can get your Joa Tag from

How I use Joa Tag

It’s time you stopped giving special discounts for free. Instead, you should reward Yelp check-ins with a special discount. These specials can vary from one month to the next. If you want to post ‘X percent’ discount on your Yelp page, don’t. It’s better if you put ‘1 Special As Offered’ so that it can be flexible.

New customers

While you’re inputting a new customer’s information, ask them to scan your ‘Joa Tag.’ Once he/she has checked in, give them $2~$3 discount as a welcome special. Your new customer will feel better because he/she did something for you.

Big order customers

If your existing customers bring in a large order, tell them about your special offer and ask them to give you a 5-star rating. Don’t forget to show them your five fingers and say “I love your stars!” You should list special offers like free button repairs, hemming, sewing & repair and etc. on the back of your Joa Tag.

When you ask you customers for check-ins, your natural smile will make them feel good. Your Yelp rating won’t go up overnight, but doing customer check-ins will improve it step by step.

John Bae

John Bae

The author is the owner and operator of Mr. ShoeWash and can be reached through phone (562-833-2544) or email (

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