What percentage of your business comes from Internet inquiries? What if online listings with your business’ address, phone number or hours of operation suddenly changed? Would business drop off? Could a notation of “Closed Saturday, Sunday and Monday” result in a 75% drop in sales? According to one business owner it did.
Rene Bertagna, owner of the Serbian Crown, closed his Washington DC-area restaurant after he claims a change to his Google Maps listing resulted in significant and long lasting declines in business. A 75% drop in customers in one weekend was the start his business’ decline. Within 18 months, his business closed for good.
After a customer called to find out why the 40-year old business was suddenly closed on the weekends, Bertagna hired an internet consultant to try to fix the problem. It was too late. With the Google Places listing showing incorrect business hours, the Serbian Crown was fated for closure. Now he’s suing Google claiming they turned a blind eye to his problem and others like it.
Google Maps is a crowd-source project. While Google populates Maps with reliable information from sources including infoUSA and Axciom, listings can be changed by anyone on the web. If your business listing goes unclaimed, anyone using Google Maps can modify phone numbers, addresses, hours of operation, and other critical information. In a well-documented event, a whistle blower set up fake listings for the FBI and Secret Service. While he routed phone calls to the correct number, he was still easily able to set up fake listings that could have been detrimental to a small business.
While the lawsuit filed by Bertagna against Google is not expected to progress through the court system due to immunity given to crowd-source websites, it highlights the need for business owners to be aware of and to continuously monitor their online presence.
If you are concerned about your brand’s reputation and online business listings, call Qiigo today. Our Local Listing Management and Reputation Management offerings make it possible for you to ensure your business name, address, phone number and business hours are accurate across hundreds of online business directories.
Call Qiigo at (404) 496-6841 to learn more about Local Listing Management.