Many people base their decisions about trying a new restaurant, switching to a different bank or engaging the services of a PR firm by researching what others have already written about their own experiences with those entities. A business review is a narrative report card that addresses the quality of a company's products and services so that newcomers can make an informed choice as to whether it's a good match for their needs.
Identify the goals and objectives of the business you are reviewing. For example, (1) to offer fun, flavorful and economical meals to low income families; (2) to collect and shred confidential documents and records on a weekly basis for small businesses; and (3) to provide daily coffee and bakery kiosk services in the lobbies of metropolitan office buildings.
Create a list of measurable elements that are pertinent to the type of business you are reviewing. If, for instance, you're evaluating a catering company, some of the categories to address would be price, presentation and delivery and the quality, taste and freshness of the food. If you're evaluating a consulting business, the categories would relate to the scope and diversity of services, fee schedules, time frames, expertise of staff, quality of work product and results.
Evaluate whether the company's objectives met your personal expectations. The easiest way to do this is to assign a numerical score of 1 through 10 with 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest. For every score that is lower than 4 or higher than 7, provide a justification for your ranking. For example, you might praise the catering staff as being wonderfully congenial and efficient but point out that a substitution was made without your knowledge on one of the selections you ordered, and, in the case of food allergies, this could have been disastrous.
Research whether a negative experience was just a one-time glitch or the norm for the business you're reviewing. There may be extenuating circumstances you were unaware of. For example, a power outage that impacted the delivery of the product, a new hire who took longer to process a request than a seasoned pro, the death of an immediate family member in a one-person business or shop, or a relocation. Bringing a mistake or inconvenience to the attention of the business owner will often yield an explanation, an apology and/or an invitation to give the business a second chance--all of which should be taken into account when writing your review.
Take into consideration the target clientele of the business. For instance, if you're a picky gourmet who typically dines at upscale eateries, you're probably not going to be enamored with a family friendly restaurant whose waiters wear clown costumes. This is not, however, a good reason to criticize the entire venue. Because you're not their targeted demographic, you need to put yourself in the shoes of families who are and evaluate whether the restaurant is a good value for their time and money and a fun place to take small children.
Offer suggestions in your review on how the product or service could be improved. Strive for an equitable balance of fact and opinion in your content.
Identify at least one positive item to praise in your write-up. If the bulk of your review is negative, make sure that you open with a positive comment or observation. Be honest but fair.
Take into consideration your own mindset prior to writing your review of a business. Ideally, you should enter into each scenario with an objective and enthusiastic attitude. If you've just had a stellar experience with a Fortune 500 company and you're about to review a mom-and-pop shop that opened its doors only 3 weeks ago, you can't measure the latter against the same expectations that were met by a business that has been serving its constituency for 3 decades. Study reviews that others have written on the same businesses. Websites such as Yelp.com (see Resources) can help you get started if you've never written a business review before.
Use humor sparingly in business reviews. What you may think is a witty remark could be construed as sarcasm. Don't allow extraneous influences to color your impressions. For example, windy weather makes you grumpy, the business owner's first name is the same as your ex-husband who's always late on alimony payments, or the business took over an older business that you were fiercely loyal to. Never write a business review based on the secondhand experience of someone else.