The Entrepreneurs at Top Rated Local®: Brandon

Brandon is the Senior Brand Director of Top Rated Local® (or, as we like to call him, the senior Brandon Director). He grew up in West Virginia on a sustainable farm with no electricity and no running water/modern conveniences. From an early age, he had quite a knack for technology, which considering where he lived, he had to find creative outlets for. That’s why, when he was 16, he started building and selling computers, which jump started his entrepreneurial mindset.

That entrepreneurial mindset has taken Brandon far. Along with his wife, Marcia, he owns Life Of The Party, a costume shop in Northern Colorado. The store itself has been around for 38 years, and the couple are the third set of owners, carrying on the store’s long-held standard of inclusivity and service. As an LGBTQ+ safe space, a woman-owned business, the largest supplier of wigs in Northern Colorado, and the only place to get popular stage makeup brands within a 300-mile radius, Life Of The Party has people coming great distances to shop, as evidenced by this story Brandon shared with us:

“We had a professional troupe of rodeo clowns come in recently. They came out from California to do a show in Laramie, Wyoming. They realized they had run out of their ‘clown white’ makeup. They drove five hours to us and told us we’re one of their stops from now on.”

After being asked, at length, about the lifestyles of rodeo clowns (what can we say, we were curious), Brandon told us that Life Of The Party sees a wide variety of customers, be it for a costume, wig, makeup, or something else entirely. Their assortment of clientele can range from people who live completely different lives on the weekend to people buying gag gifts for friends, to professional performers, costumers, and makeup artists. In Brandon’s words, “Who cares what you’re using it for as long as you’re having fun!”

When asked how his two, very different careers intersect, he said:

“They intersect constantly. It’s really a benefit to me working at Top Rated Local, because I’m constantly trying new things and educating myself… I get to try things that, as a small business owner, I would never get to try on my own. The tools I use are not unavailable to small business owners, but most small business owners wouldn’t know to use them…”

The way Life Of The Party navigates reputation management is incredibly unique. That’s not only because of their diverse customer-base, but because of the nature of the products they sell. They’re able to build a positive organic reputation by being a space for people leading alternative lifestyles to shop without judgement, as well as being a local staple. “We cater to everybody, and we get everybody. We get the college kids, the grizzled, old farmer looking for a gag gift, people in transition, rodeo clowns… We get everybody,” Brandon told us.

Of course, we were interested in finding out how Top Rated Local has benefited Life Of The Party. Brandon shared with us that some of his biggest concerns with other review platforms have been the lack of resources for businesses to report fake or false reviews and constant sales calls. Because of that, Top Rated Local has been his go-to. The aggregate score Top Rated Local offers has been particularly helpful in showing off Life Of The Party’s positive overall reputation to potential customers. He left us with this:

“When people ask me where to leave a review, I send them to Top Rated Local.”


Thank you so much for your time, Brandon, and thank you for being such an integral part of the Top Rated Local family!

Want to see what Top Rated Local can do for your business? Sign up here today.

Ask A Reputation Manager: Zach and Nolan

Who is Nolan?

Nolan is half of the reputation management leadership dream team at Top Rated Local. He has been doing reputation management for more than two years and worked in search engine optimization before this

Who is Zach?

Zach, coincidentally, is also half of the aforementioned reputation management leadership dream team here at Top Rated Local. He has been working in reputation management for a year and a half and comes from a military background.

We sat Zach and Nolan down to get an overall feel for reputation management and what it can do for businesses. Here’s what they had to say:

What drew you to reputation management?

N: I think there’s a big opportunity in the world of online reviews, specifically for small businesses. There’s also quite a bit of misinformation and misunderstanding about what is the proper form and cadence when it comes to dealing with online reviews. With the growing significance [reviews] have in terms of SEO (search engine optimization), it was a no brainer for me to join the team.

Z: I kind of went into the role not knowing what all it included, but I definitely learned how important and imperative this role is for small businesses. 

How did apply your previous experience to reputation management?

N: First and foremost, I come from a background of leadership. Also, being confident in my writing definitely helps. It helps me to respond to reviews and work with clients better, as well as develop the strong communication it takes for our clients to be successful. The thing Zach and I have in common most is our dedication to continued learning

Z: I was also a very competent writer in college. One of my degrees is in communication, so a lot of writing goes along with that. The knowledge that the Marine Corps would let me be in charge of lives helped me lead this team. I gain knowledge from our team and incorporating it into my daily work.

Are there any stories that stand out to you from your experience as a reputation manager?

Z: My second or third client when I started here, their reviews did so well with our help that they were able to put up a fourth location — in a pretty tough industry as well.

N: One common thread we see is people’s frustration with other review platforms and their restrictions. They say “I hate reviews” because they’ve only had bad experiences with these platforms. So, I think that says a lot. 

What is the benefit of having a whole team of reputation managers working together with their own individual clients?

Z:  Ideas are always flowing everywhere. We all bounce ideas off of each other first. That’s what has led us to create a powerhouse of Reputation Managers. Everyone’s on the same playing field because we have that knowledge pool all together.

N: That’s the number one thing for sure. I think it also helps that the people on our team are really different. That really works to our benefit in a lot of ways, because we get a lot of different perspectives. Our clients and the people responding to their reviews don’t come from one background, and neither do we. 

Why is it important for businesses to have a solid understanding of reputation management?

Z: When you’re dealing with businesses that don’t have much of a name for themselves or aren’t very well established, reviews can be the only thing that makes them noticeable next to the guy that’s been on the block for 20 years

N: At Top Rated Local, we’re looking primarily at local businesses. When those businesses are competing for attention in a local market, it’s on the internet now. They don’t go to their aunts, uncles, and cousins to ask for recommendations anymore. They take the opinion of a total stranger, so they need those gold stars. 

If you could leave our readers with one vital reputation management tip, what would it be?

N: Not a shameless plug, but you need to be using Top Rated Local. That’s my number one power tip.

Z: Get yourself out of the mindset that on-site testimonials are a benefit to you. Everything you do with reviews needs to be online now.


Thank you so much for your time, Zach and Nolan! If you’re interested in seeing what Top Rated Local can do to elevate your business’ online reputation, sign up here today.

Employer Reputation 101: What Can I Do?

In part one of this two-part blog series, we discussed the ins and outs of employer reputation. So now, you’re probably wondering how you can make sure yours is spotless. As an online reputation platform, we know what it takes to keep your employer brand phenomenal. Here, we’ll teach you how to maintain and expand your employer reputation using the “BE REAL” method, which is an acronym we came up with, just now. Just read this, and let us help you out!

Be Active

Staying involved in your business’ online reputation isn’t just important when it comes to your clientele; it’s a vital part of managing your employer brand. If you want to be appealing to the best talent and future customers alike, you need to be actively responding to and improving upon any feedback you receive. Not only will this help your reputation, but it’ll help your overall business.

Employ The Right People

If you hire candidates who aren’t right for the jobs you have to offer, they are never going to be happy with your company, and they’ll make that abundantly clear to others. It’s time to get strategic about the people you hire. You want people who not only can do the job and do it well but who will give you open and honest feedback because they want to see your company grow and thrive. This all comes with treating people well. 

Respond Correctly

Ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away. People aren’t giving you negative feedback because they want to be mean or see you fail; it’s because they want to see your business and the people involved with it thrive. If you receive a negative employee review on a public forum, like Glassdoor, respond politely and with a genuine willingness to improve, while still maintaining integrity to your brand and vision. It will make a huge difference in most cases.

Encourage Feedback

Without receiving feedback, there is no way for you to get a good grasp on your employer brand, because, well, you have no employer brand. That is — not one that you can see. People are going to talk about whether or not your business is a good place to work. That is inevitable. You want that feedback to be out in the open so you can respond to and grow from it. You also want your employees to be comfortable publicly declaring their pride in your company to level out the feedback you’re receiving.

Assess Your Brand

As with anything in business, you’ll want to routinely check in on your employer brand, especially online. This all goes back to staying active in your employer reputation. Check-in with employees both in-house and on websites, like Glassdoor, every so often just to make sure you’re getting up-to-date feedback. 

Listen To Your Employees

This is the big one — the absolute, most important thing to do if you want to make sure your business looks good as a place to work. You won’t stop getting negative feedback if you don’t actually build your business around the feedback you receive. At the end of the day, it is your job to run your company, and that means treating your team well. Your employees are the backbone of your company. These people have dedicated themselves to your dream and your success. Make sure they know how much you care through your actions. 


Try Top Rated Local®

At Top Rated Local, we are passionate about helping businesses thrive. Using our proprietary Rating Score™ system, you can get up-to-date information regarding your business’ overall online reputation. Sign up today and utilize our tools to grow your business!

Employer Reputation 101: What It Is

All business owners know how important it is to have happy customers, but what about happy employees? Obviously, you want them to be happy and thrive in their workplace, but are they? How do you find out? Where do you find out? In part one of this two-part blog, we’ll answer these questions and more, as well as discuss the basics of employer branding and help you get a good grasp on what exactly that means. Be sure to check back for part two to find out what you can do to make sure yours is great.

What is an employer brand? 

Your employer brand is a huge part of your business’ overall reputation. Essentially, it is a reflection of how good (or bad) of a workplace your company is. If your employees are happy and treated well, your employer brand will be great. Otherwise, it won’t. It’s as simple as that. 

Why do I need a good employer brand?

A great employer brand is key to any business’ success, especially when it comes to growth. Your employees dedicate the vast majority of their time to your business. They deserve an excellent workplace and will be vocal about whether or not they like working for you. Try thinking about it this way — of the companies you know with terrible employer practices and a bad employer reputation, how many are succeeding? How many were doing better before they developed a poor reputation? Which ones haven’t bounced back because they refused to improve or work on their employer brand? 

Where can I find out how I’m doing?

Finding out how well your business is doing reputation-wise doesn’t take as much investigative work as one might think. There are online platforms, like Glassdoor, Inhersight (which specifically rates the woman-friendliness of companies), and Indeed, where employees can give open and honest, anonymous feedback. It’s incredibly easy to find out about your business’ overall employer brand by either checking these sites or simply doing a general Google search. 

Beyond the world of the internet, you can utilize older techniques to gauge employee happiness. Believe it or not, even in the modern era, people still talk face to face. Finding ways to accept anonymous feedback at work and in real-time could be a huge asset to your company’s overall brand reputation. This doesn’t mean asking your employees directly how they feel about the company. This means setting up an anonymous feedback form, either online or off, for your team to tell you what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong.


Let Top Rated Local® Help

At Top Rated Local, we’re here to help small businesses thrive. Through our proprietary Rating Score™ system, you can get a glimpse of the cumulative reputation you’ve built with both customers and your team. We know how challenging it can be to build your business’ online reputation. However, using the right tools, using our tools, it can become a whole lot easier. Sign up for a free Top Rated Local profile today.

How To Get Your Brand Noticed

Whether you’re a newcomer in your industry trying to get traction or a long-standing local favorite noticing business slowing down, getting your brand noticed is key. In this blog, we’ll explore three different ways you can do just that

Have A Memorable Aesthetic

Try to think of three extremely well-known brands in your industry off the top of your head. It’s OK, we’ll wait.

Got it? Now, what do those three brands have in common? Chances are, they all have an immediately recognizable logo and color scheme. That’s because those brands know that human beings are visual creatures, and that, when something is beautiful or novel to look at, it sticks in our minds longer. Utilizing even base level color psychology and tactful font choices can keep your business in people’s minds as a near-permanent fixture.

Build an A+ Website

As many of our grandmothers would say, “Everything is on that internet nowadays.” Frankly, they’re not wrong. Everything is on the internet. Because of that, if you don’t have a good website, your customers are likely to move on from you to one of your competitors very quickly.

Not only does your website have to fit into the aforementioned aesthetic of your business, but it needs to be user-friendly. A great website is an investment in your business’ longevity. Make sure you’re updating it often and working with the right professionals to ensure that your website is one people will rave about to their friends.*

*Chances are, people won’t actually do this, because that’s not how people talk. Just make your website pretty and easy to use by working with people who know what they’re doing and you’ll be in great shape.

Get Fantastic Reviews

We cannot stress enough the importance of great reviews. In fact, we’ve written tons of blogs about it, like this one, this one, and this one. As a business-friendly review platform, we are super passionate about reviews — and for good reason. People trust the experiences of their fellow consumers, and the general sentiment is that people leave reviews to either encourage or discourage others from participating in something they’ve already experienced. Google reviews can even help SEO rankings, making you one of the first names people see when searching for services in your industry. Being the talk of the town in 2019 means being the business people rave about online. If you remember nothing else from this article, remember this: positive reviews are an essential tool in any modern business owner’s toolbelt.

Let Top Rated Local Help

Take the first step to getting your business noticed by signing up for Top Rated Local today for free. Using our convenient site and app, you can manage reviews from verified sites, receive reviews directly on our site, and get a general idea of how your online reputation is doing through our Rating Score™ system.

Maryland’s Top Rated Local® Architects Award Winner: Kimmel Studio Architects

Top Rated Local® is pleased to announce that Kimmel Studio Architects is an award winner for architecture firms in 2019!

If you are looking for an architecture firm that will make your vision a reality, look no further than this award-winning company!

Kimmel Studio Architects has received many overwhelmingly positive reviews across three different verified sites with an average rating of 4.86 stars, earning them an excellent Rating Score™ of 95.62 and a 2019 Top Rated Local award for ranking among the top three architecture firms in Maryland!

Here’s just one of their many five-star reviews:

“I had the privilege to capture one of Devin’s projects in Deale, Maryland, aptly named the Boat House. His creative intelligence is remarkable, and his craft reaches a very high water mark in his field. I confidently recommend his services to anyone who values a very high-quality result.” -Pete A.

It is because of stellar reviews like this that Kimmel Studio Architects is now able to call themselves a Top Rated Local award winner!

Not Your Average Architecture Firm

We were excited to learn all about how Kimmel Studio Architects has been able to build such an exemplary reputation, so we sat down with the Principal Architect, Devin Kimmel.

The first thing we wanted to know was what it is that makes Kimmel Studio Architects stand apart from their competitors. According to Devin, it comes down to two things:

“1. We are able to integrate buildings into the landscape.
2. We are artists. We create a work of art with the structures we build and the surrounding landscape we develop.”

When asked about the Kimmel Studio Architects mission, Devin said, “We believe that architecture is not in competition with nature but an art form that can be a part of nature.”

Building Success By Exceeding Expectations

In Devin’s eyes, the secret to the phenomenal reviews his business has is their willingness to go above and beyond as a team for their clients. When it comes to marketing, they focus on organic traffic and social media.

There are many businesses out there that are looking to build as stupendous a reputation as Kimmel Studio Architects has managed to. We asked if Devin could share any expert advice with these companies. Here’s what he had to say:

“Exceed clients’ expectations. Be a good team player. Work toward a common goal.”


Congratulations to Kimmel Studio Architects for being a 2019 Top Rated Local award winner, and special thanks to Devin for taking the time to speak with us! Check out their website here!

Nebraska’s Top Rated Local® Moving Service Companies Award Winner: I Go Van & Storage

Top Rated Local® is pleased to announce that I Go Van & Storage is an award winner for moving service companies in 2019!

If you are looking for a moving service that will make this your easiest move yet, look no further than this award-winning company!

I Go Van & Storage has received many overwhelmingly positive reviews across verified sites with an average rating of 4.80 stars, earning them an exemplary Rating Score™ of 90.00 and a 2019 Top Rated Local award for ranking among the top 10 moving service companies in Nebraska!

Here’s just one of their many five-star reviews:

“We used I-Go Van & Storage for our office move. I couldn’t have been more pleased with them. We worked with both Jeff and Pat, who were on top of everything and stayed in touch throughout the process. I dreaded moving an entire office, but they made the process stress free and handled it all with ease. I would definitely recommend I-Go to anyone moving, whether it be home or office.” -Kayleen D.

It is because of phenomenal reviews like this that I Go Van & Storage is now able to call themselves a Top Rated Local award winner!

Not Your Average Moving Service

We were excited to learn all about how I Go Van & Storage has been able to build such an awesome reputation, so we sat down with the VP of sales and business development, Jeff Nogg.

The first thing we wanted to know was what it is that makes I Go Van & Storage stand apart from their competitors. In Jeff’s words, “We have more consistent and experienced labor and better office employees. We have low turnover, and we’re more detailed than our competition.”

Building Success Through Communication

According to Jeff, the secret to I Go Van & Storage’s success is simply following up with the people they serve. When it comes to marketing, he and his team focus on social media and networking.

There are many businesses out there that are looking to build as stupendous a reputation as I Go Van & Storage has managed to. We asked if Jeff could share any expert advice with these companies. Here’s what he had to say:

“Get the right people on board to help you.”


Congratulations to I Go Van & Storage for being a 2019 Top Rated Local award winner, and special thanks to Jeff for taking the time to speak with us! Check out their website here!

Georgia’s Top Rated Local® Moving Service Companies Award Winner: Good Guys Moving and Delivery

Top Rated Local® is pleased to announce that Good Guys Moving and Delivery is an award winner for moving service companies in 2019!

If you are looking for a moving service that will work hard to minimize the stress and pressure of your move, look no further than this award-winning company!

Good Guys Moving and Delivery has received many overwhelmingly positive reviews across three different verified sites with an average rating of 4.87 stars, earning them an awesome Rating Score™ of 94.68 and a 2019 Top Rated Local award for ranking among the top three moving service companies in Georgia!

Here’s just one of their many five-star reviews:

“This is my second time using Good Guys for assisting with a move. They are, by far, the best moving company in Macon. Damian and Godfrey were very courteous and careful. I cannot say enough positive things. You will not be disappointed by hiring this company. Thank you for your excellent service!” -Hannah W.

It is because of incredible reviews like this that Good Guys Moving and Delivery is now able to call themselves a Top Rated Local award winner!

Not Your Average Moving Service

We were excited to learn all about how Good Guys Moving and Delivery has been able to build such a remarkable reputation, so we sat down with the manager, Hunter Smith.

The first thing we wanted to know was what it is that makes Good Guys Moving and Delivery stand apart from their competitors. In Hunter’s words, “No matter what happens, we will send a great crew. We’re a full-service moving and storage company. We have qualified drivers for each of our trucks; we have full-service storage units for people I’ve seen it all so I know what to do.”

When asked about the business’ mission, Hunter simply said, “We are the best, and we better act like it.”

Building Success Through Customer Care

Of course, we couldn’t let Hunter go without finding out what he considers to be the business’ secret to success. “We take care of our customers. We don’t encourage anyone to write reviews, but we tell people to go check them out,” he told us.

In regards to marketing, Hunter told us their trucks are wrapped, they run Facebook campaigns, and their reputation on Google is huge.

There are many businesses out there that are looking to build as spectacular a reputation as Good Guys Moving and Delivery has managed to. We asked if Hunter could share any expert advice with these companies. Here’s what he had to say:

“Trust the customer.”


Congratulations to Good Guys Moving and Delivery for being a 2019 Top Rated Local award winner, and special thanks to Hunter for taking the time to speak with us! Check out their website here!

Nevada’s Top Rated Local® Martial Arts Award Winner: Momentum Martial Arts

Top Rated Local® is pleased to announce that Momentum Martial Arts is an award winner for martial arts schools in 2019!

If you are looking for a martial arts school that will put your needs first, look no further than this award-winning company!

Momentum Martial Arts has received many overwhelmingly positive reviews across three different verified sites with an average rating of 5.00 stars, earning them an exemplary Rating Score™ of 96.00 and a 2019 Top Rated Local award for ranking among the top 10 martial arts schools in Nevada!

Here’s just one of their many five-star reviews:

“We LOVE Coach Darien and Momentum! Our entire family (kids and adults) train here. [They have] awesome coaches, wonderful and welcoming families, and are the best place to learn martial arts and self-defense!” -Jessica L.

It is because of terrific reviews like this that Momentum Martial Arts is now able to call themselves a Top Rated Local award winner!

Not Your Average Martial Arts School

We were excited to learn all about how Momentum Martial Arts has been able to build such an amazing reputation, so we sat down with the owner, Darien.

The first thing we wanted to know was what it is that makes Momentum Martial Arts stand apart from their competitors. In Darien’s words, “Our facility is 6,000 sq. feet, so there’s plenty of room. We offer several different classes at several times. We have several beginner classes at one time to allow the whole family to come and have fun. We bring on all kinds of people with all backgrounds. We immerse ourselves into our members’ lives…”

Building Success Through High-Level Instruction

Of course, we couldn’t let Darien go without finding out what he considers to be his business’ secret to success. “We have the highest level of curriculum. People genuinely love our classes and instructors,” he told us.

When it comes to marketing, Darien told us that Momentum Martial Arts focuses on word of mouth and referrals.

There are many businesses out there that are looking to build as wonderful a reputation as Momentum Martial Arts has managed to. We asked if Darien could share any expert advice with these companies. Here’s what he had to say:

“The lazy man works twice as hard.”


Congratulations to Momentum Martial Arts for being a 2019 Top Rated Local award winner, and special thanks to Darien for taking the time to speak with us! Check out their website here!

Maryland’s Top Rated Local® Nail Salons Award Winner: Herbal Organic Nail Salon

Top Rated Local® is pleased to announce that Herbal Organic Nail Salon is an award winner for nail salons in 2019!

If you are looking for a nail salon that will give you a set that shines, look no further than this award-winning company!

Herbal Organic Nail Salon has received many overwhelmingly positive reviews across verified sites with an average rating of 4.82 stars, earning them an extraordinary Rating Score™ of 92.18 and a 2019 Top Rated Local award for ranking among the top three nail salons in Maryland!

Here’s just one of their many five-star reviews:

“I tried this place after a poor customer service experience at my normal nail salon. My money is so much better spent here! The pedicure massages are amazing and for the same price I used to pay! Needless to say, this is definitely my new regular salon.” -Alyssa S.

It is because of enthusiastic reviews like this that Herbal Organic Nail Salon is now able to call themselves a Top Rated Local award winner!

Not Your Average Nail Salon

We were excited to learn all about how Herbal Organic Nail Salon has been able to build such an excellent reputation, so we sat down with one of their team members, Rekha Dahl.

The first thing we wanted to know was what it is that makes Herbal Organic Nail Salon stand apart from their competitors. In Rekha’s words, “We don’t use any chemicals, and we use organic products. We have a friendly, family environment, and we treat the customer like they are in our home.”

When asked about the Herbal Organic Nail Salon mission, Rekha said, “We give good service and good quality.”

Building Success Through Service

In Rekha’s eyes, the Herbal Organic Nail Salon secret to success can be chalked up to the friendly service they provide to their clients.

As for marketing, Herbal Organic Nail Salon focuses on word of mouth and fliers.

There are many businesses out there that are looking to build as exemplary a reputation as Herbal Organic Nail Salon has managed to. We asked if Rekha could share any expert advice with these companies. Here’s what she had to say:

“The most important thing is to good service and be friendly. If any customer or guest comes to your house, you should extend a warm, charming face and provide good service. Everybody likes us because we give good service and we treat all our customers like family. That’s the most important thing.”


Congratulations to Herbal Organic Nail Salon for being a 2019 Top Rated Local award winner, and special thanks to Rekha for taking the time to speak with us! Check out their website here!