I love Yelp. Really do, particularly as a resource to find out-of-town eateries (i.e., this weekend when we’ll be in Clovis for my son’s water polo tournament). There’s great wisdom in the crowds … crowd-sourced opinions/reviews are generally spot on. And, we have been fortunate to have a handful of RepowerYolo homeowners discover us via Yelp.

But, Yelp doesn’t like me. Well, not me personally, but their “algorithm” (according to sources at Yelp) has refused a half-dozen or so RepowerYolo homeowner reviews, much to the chagrin of the homeowners who invested time and thought in reviewing their solar experience.

Having a Yelp page is an ante for small businesses; we created our page about 18 months ago (click here to take a peek). Since then, 10 Repower homeowners have posted reviews (fortunately, they’re all five-star reviews). Of these, only four are clearly visible on the site; the other six reviews “are not currently recommended.” When a service like Yelp is free, I guess you can’t complain.

Over the past 18 months we’ve received numerous calls and pitches from Yelp salespeople, seeking to sell adds and “up our visibility and placement” when homeowners search for solar. (BTW, Yelp’s team is terrific: Thorough, polite, data-driven, motivated.) Here’s how the conversations go:

- Yelp salesperson: You should advertise on Yelp.

- Repower: Ok, but we don’t advertise.

- Yelp: But you should if you want to do more business … all solar companies are doing it.

- Repower: Ok, but we’re not a solar company; we are a community, group purchase program.

- Yelp: It’s really easy and doesn’t cost much.

- Repower: Ok, but no thanks. We would rather keep the cost of solar low for homeowners and support nonprofit organizations in our community.

- Yelp: (Click.)

I’m certain Yelp is a terrific medium to reach prospective solar homeowners. And, right or wrong, we have chosen not to spend a dime on advertising, cold-calling, commission salespeople, etcetera … we instead pass the savings on to homeowners, and we can afford to donate $500 to local nonprofits every time a homeowner goes solar.