Google Star Rating is killing my new business.

Hello all — I am a small business owner of a facility with a tuition-based sports instruction service getting ready to hit my two year anniversary. I started this business with absolutely nothing but a vision. No money. No credit. I sacrificed every basic comfort to get it off the ground choosing to live instead at my facility. I managed to grow this thing into a viable business that has begun to be able to support the basic needs of myself and my family. It's truly my passion and I've learned and grown so much.

Unfortunately, I had an incident in January of this year where I let 4 of my "heavy hitter" clients go simultaneously due to mounting issues that were driving me insane and disrupting the quality of services I was providing to other clients. All of them had ongoing issues with athletic misconduct; two had unpaid accounts (totaling over 3k), and one tried to blackmail me into waiving tuitions owed under threat of lawsuit due to an non-serious injury that occurred during training (one the athlete recovered from in less than two weeks.) Needless to say they reacted as expected when they left. While the air in my facility is much clearer, and my client's training environment much improved by getting rid of these toxic families, my business' growth has completely stopped. Seemed I grossly underestimated the impact these families would have on my business from the outside.

I pull a large quantity of business in through google searches. Since February, these former clients were able to pull my google business ranking (previously 4.8 stars) down to just 1 star with a plethora of 1-star reviews. Since February, my new business has experienced a 75% decrease in our monthly new enrollment rate than we have averaged the past two years prior to February. This has amounted to negative growth February -April.

I have tried to encourage my customer base to leave positive reviews – and they have over the last few weeks – but to absolutely no avail. I remain at 1-star. As a business listing who gets maybe 1 review every other month (if I'm lucky) the sudden acquisition of several reviews likely hurt me more than helped.

I have sunk advertising money elsewhere such as Facebook, Instagram and even old fashioned flyering. I have yet to see the rate begin to climb again.

Any advice or encouragement is appreciated.

Edit: Words.

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