Instead of the Food, Reviews Might Be About the Weather

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Not everybody hates a rainy day, but there's a reason we think of wet weather as gloomy. This actually has business implications for entire communities. Depending on the vagaries of the seasons and the local climate, your favorite restaurant could be in danger of tanking through no fault of its own.

Researchers at Ohio State University have just released a study tracking ratings at restaurants with local weather patterns. In a world where online reviews can make or break a business, customers actually gave a restaurant lower marks on rainy days than on sunny days. It's not that pleasant weather makes your food taste better, but when customers are in a better overall mood, they tend to be more generous about a dining establishment.

The findings go both ways, of course: "A rainy day may put employees in a bad mood and that will affect their service," said co-author Milos Bujisic in a press release. "Managers need to explain that to their employees and work to keep them motivated."

While word of mouth is helpful to the point of essential when it comes to finding new restaurants, we do have reasons as consumers to be skeptical of online reviews. Huge swaths of them are fake, and they don't always lead us to the best experience. That said, open communication can be the best market research around for business owners. Take it all with a grain of salt — and, if necessary, be sure to bring an umbrella.