How to Find the Right Roofer

When you hire a roofer, it’s important to get it right

Your roof isn’t a small thing. In fact, it’s probably the most important part of your home from a safety and protection standpoint. So, when you’re in need of roofing services, you need to turn to a roofing company that you can rely on to get the job done right the first time.

Hiring a roofing contractor isn’t like hiring a carpet cleaner or a painter. If the job doesn’t get done correctly with one of these contractors, it’s frustrating and will probably look bad, but at the end of the day, no one is in danger or at risk.

But, that’s not the case with your roof. If a roofer makes a mistake, the consequences can be much, much bigger. That’s why you should never settle when it comes to hiring a roofing contractor.

Hiring the right roofer for the job takes a little more time and research than hiring almost any other contractor or local business. Top Rated Local® is here to help!

5 tips on finding the right roofer

#1. Work with a local roofing company

There are countless horror stories out there of homeowners who hired a roofer that offered a five-year warranty, only for that roofer to be nowhere to be found when they actually need them. Unfortunately, roofing is one of those industries where scams are common, but one of the best ways to avoid a roofing scam is to hire a company that has a long history of serving your community.

Another reason why hiring local is beneficial is that a local roofer will understand the unique issues that affect roofs in your area. Whether your roof is prone to algae growth, hail damage or wind damage, a local roofer will understand that, and they’ll be able to better prepare your roof for those kinds of common problems.

When I say to hire a local roofing contractor, that doesn’t mean hiring someone that just operates locally. You want to hire a local contractor that has an established reputation in your community.

#2. Double-check that they are licensed and insured

You want a roofer that has experience, knowledge and expertise, but equally as important, you want a roofer who is both licensed and insured to do the job. And, while you may have to take a roofing company’s word when it comes to their skill and knowledge, you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) take their word when it comes to licensing and insurance.

In order to become licensed, a roofer must go through training that teaches them how to do inspections and perform services safely and effectively. Maintaining that licensing also takes work, and any repairs or installations have to meet current building codes. Licensed roofers also follow safety standards, and many of them offer warranties and contracts that help to protect homeowners like you.

Roofing isn’t exactly the safest job, and accidents happen even with the best of roofing companies. If the contractor you’ve hired doesn’t have insurance, you could be the one financially liable for any injuries that occur on the job. Always make sure that any roofer you hire is insured!

#3. Don’t look at the cost alone

Roofing services aren’t exactly cheap, and when you’re in need of roof repairs or a replacement, you might be tempted to simply accept the lowest bid for the job without doing any further research. However, this could potentially be a huge mistake, and while it’s important to consider the cost, it’s certainly not the only thing you should consider.

If a roofing company offers much lower rates than what’s typical in your area, there’s probably a reason for it. Roofers that don’t have a lot of experience or don’t have a strong reputation in their community tend to low-ball when it comes to cost, but chances are, that cost-savings will result in the sacrifice of quality.

Where roofing is concerned, you get what you pay for. That’s not to say that you should automatically choose the highest bid, either, but if a bid is significantly lower than the rest, it’s a red flag.

#4. Find a roofer who shows instead of tells

Roofing services are a lot like automotive repairs in that roofers and auto mechanics know a lot more about the subject matter at hand than your average homeowner or driver. That means that you need to be able to trust the roofer you hire to work with integrity and honesty, and to help you make the right decisions regarding your roof.

Beware of any roofer that tries to sell you a solution without fully explaining the problem or all of the potential solutions to choose from. Any roofer you hire should help to inform you so that you can make the right decision, and that often means showing instead of telling. And, they definitely shouldn’t just make the decision for you.

#5. Read reviews

Every roofer you talk to and every roofing website you visit is going to tell you that they are the best in the business. They’re all going to claim to offer great service and to get the job done right the first time.

However, not every roofer can be the best, and not every roofing company will do what it claims on its website. The only way to know for sure what working with a roofer is really like is to learn what their past clients have said.

Reading reviews is a great rule of thumb to keep in mind when hiring any local business, but it’s especially important when there’s so much on the line. If the roofing contractor has a reputation for leaving jobs unfinished, making mistakes or leaving their clients high and dry when they need them, reading their reviews will help you avoid them.

Find a roofer near you with Top Rated Local®

When you look for a roofing contractor with Top Rated Local, you’ll be able to read each roofing company’s reviews from across the web and compare its overall reputation to the competition.

It’s the only place where you can learn about a roofing company’s online reputation overall without having to visit tons of review sites and directories. There’s a reason why it’s become the go-to local business directory and review site.

Find a local roofer near you today!

Originally published on 3/13/20

New Mexico’s Top Rated Local® Businesses: 2021

While there’s a lot of uncertainty in the world right now, we didn’t want to let that stop us from celebrating the amazing small businesses of New Mexico!

Best known for UFO sightings, the world’s first atomic bomb detonation and green chile, New Mexico is a wonderful state to live in and visit. Home to Carlsbad Caverns, more than 500 dinosaur footprints that date back 100 million years and seven national forests, the “Land of Enchantment” is also home to a number of truly incredible local businesses — from acupuncturists to window cleaners — that work to serve their communities and make the world a better place.

Top Rated Local® is here to recognize the many local businesses that work to make New Mexico such a phenomenal place to live and visit. There are so many amazing businesses that serve the people of New Mexico, but only the best of the best have made it on our list of Top Rated Local award winners for 2021. Today, we’re ecstatic to announce our 2021 award winners in New Mexico.

To calculate our 2021 winners, we’ve looked at each business’s Rating Score™, which is determined by the total number of verified review sites the business is listed on, the total number of ratings/reviews the business has on those review sites and the business’s average overall star rating. The more review sites a business is listed on, the more reviews or ratings a business has and the higher the average star rating, the higher the Rating Score will be, with the highest being 100.00.

There are a large number of businesses that work hard to serve the people of New Mexico and provide them with everything they need to thrive, and this year, we’ve identified 667 total businesses that have made the cut. These one-of-a-kind, local businesses have clearly made an impact on the customers and clients they serve each and every day, as evidenced by their impressive average Rating Score of 95.38 and average star rating of 4.85. For comparison, businesses across Top Rated Local average a 68.86 Rating Score and a 4.20 star rating. These businesses are truly the best of the best.

There are so many stand-out businesses in New Mexico that deserve to be recognized for their success, but we’re especially excited to give a shoutout to the number one award-winner in New Mexico for 2021 — Terry Gomez DDS PC. A dental clinic that cares for patients like family, Terry Gomez DDS PC has become Albuquerque’s premier source for dental care. Terry Gomez DDS PC has received 441 reviews across 5 verified review sites with an average star rating of 5.00, which has earned it a phenomenal Rating Score of 100.00 and the bragging rights of being the number one Top Rated Local business in all of New Mexico for 2021. This is the second year in a row Terry Gomez DDS PC has been a Top Rated Local award winner in New Mexico!

Congratulations to all of our award winners in New Mexico for 2021. We commend you for the outstanding service and support you provide for your community day in and day out.

Why Shop Local This Holiday Season

There’s a lot to love about the holidays — amazing food, beautiful lights and decorations and of course, the presents! Finding the perfect gift for someone you love is high on the list of things that just make you feel good.

When you do your holiday shopping this year, consider shopping locally. Now, more than ever, local businesses need our support, and this holiday season is the perfect time to start giving back to the local businesses that make our communities great.

Here are just a few of the many reasons to do your holiday shopping with the local businesses near you.

3 big reasons to shop local this holiday season

#1. Local businesses make their communities special

If every city and town across the country had the same, few big-box stores and no local businesses, there really wouldn’t be a whole lot of distinction between communities. But, thanks to many amazing local businesses, there are one-of-kind communities across the country.

Small business owners are very much a part of the communities they serve, they share the same concerns and they understand what their communities value. In other words, they are uniquely equipped to help define and reinforce the personality of their communities.

#2. Local businesses give back

Small, local businesses help to keep their communities great in many different ways, notably by keeping their money within their community, supporting other local businesses and donating to local charities and nonprofits.

When you choose to shop with and support the local businesses in your community, you’ll know that your money isn’t going to shareholders who have no interest in your community, but back into the community itself.

#3. Local businesses create jobs

Did you know that small businesses in the United States employ more than 59 million people? That’s about 47% of the country’s workforce (Small Business Trends).

Small businesses give back to their communities in a lot of different ways, but one of the most proud and impactful ways is the amount of jobs they create. Best of all, those jobs are largely local.

Whether through automation or outsourcing, a lot of major corporations have sacrificed their American workforce in order to save money. But luckily, local businesses provide reliable jobs for their friends and neighbors in their communities.

We know how easy it would be to order your gifts this holiday season from online retailers and just be done with it, and with the pandemic in full swing, that idea is even more tempting to many people. However, there are a lot of things you can do to keep yourself safe while still supporting the local businesses you love.

5 tips for staying safe while shopping local

#1. Take advantage of curbside

A lot of local businesses have opened supplemental online stores or websites, and while not all of them are able to offer delivery (particularly the free delivery you might enjoy from some bigger retailers) many are able to offer curbside delivery.

If you don’t feel comfortable shopping in person, visit your favorite local stores online to see if they offer curbside. Even if they don’t advertise it on their website, some may be willing to bring your purchase out to you if you simply ask!

#2. Buy gift cards

Still looking for great gift ideas for the people you care about? Consider giving them gift cards to some of your favorite local spots around town!

This is the perfect way to give your friends, family and loved ones a gift that they can really use, and it comes with the added benefit of supporting your go-to local businesses. Best of all, oftentimes, gift cards can be completely digital, so you won’t even have to leave your home!

#3. Avoid shopping during peak hours

A crowded small business is hardly the ideal place to be during a pandemic, but sometimes, you have no option but to shop in person if you want to support the local businesses you care about. In cases like these, your best bet is to shop when it’s least busy.

In general, evenings and weekends are probably the worst times to shop if you want to avoid big crowds. Most places are less busy if you shop in the mornings or afternoons during the week.

If you’re unsure about when a specific local business is busiest, you can often find peak hours on Google Maps. Or, you can always call and ask about the best times to shop to avoid a crowd.

#4. Make a list (and check it twice)

Have you ever gone to the grocery store without a list? If you’re anything like me, it takes at least twice as much time and you come home with a lot of chips and cookies but not a lot of vegetables or actual meal ingredients.

Shopping around can be a fun way to find holiday gifts for your loved ones, but it also means spending a lot more time among the crowds of holiday shoppers. That’s why it’s best to have a list and some idea of what you’re looking for before you go.

If you want to shop around and you don’t know exactly what you want, consider shopping with your favorite local businesses online.

#5. Follow safety protocols and guidelines

Whether you’re shopping for milk and eggs, toilet paper or holiday gifts, it’s always important to follow safety protocols and guidelines when you’re out and about.

These guidelines include not going out if you feel sick, wearing a mask when required, staying at least six feet away from other shoppers, refraining from touching things you aren’t going to buy and washing your hands frequently.

Find great local businesses near you, read reviews and compare the local businesses in your area side by side with Top Rated Local®. Plus, learn more about why we love and support local businesses at Top Rated Local and how to stay safe while you’re out shopping today.

How to Save More Energy This Summer

Staying cool during the summer doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Keep reading to learn how to stay cool while saving more energy this summer.

7 Tips for a More Energy Efficient Summer

#1. Alter your menu.

Nothing will warm up your home more than turning on the oven or cooking over a stove, which can make your air conditioning work harder to catch up. But, this doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a home-cooked meal this summer.

Luckily, there are a lot of ways to prepare delicious, healthy food at home without warming up the kitchen:

  • Fire up the grill – Summer is the perfect time of the year to start cooking more on the grill.
  • Eat fresh – Not every meal needs to be cooked. When it’s hot out, a fresh salad can really hit the spot. Smoothies full of fresh fruit and vegetables are also a great summertime option, as are cold sandwiches.
  • Cook for leftovers – Cook a big meal that you can eat leftovers from for a few days, like chili or spaghetti. Reheating food in the microwave won’t warm up your home like cooking a new meal every night will, and you can cook in bulk in the morning or at night when it’s cool.

#2. Keep the blinds closed.

If you want your home to stay cool during the day while saving as much energy as possible, consider keeping your blinds closed and/or shades drawn during the day. This is especially helpful if you have energy-efficient blinds or shades.

Natural sunlight is nice, but unfortunately, it can warm up your home. By keeping the blinds closed, you’ll keep your home cooler. This will also prevent your carpet, paint, photographs and artwork from fading in the sunlight.

If you’re like me, and you can’t bear to keep the blinds closed while it’s sunny and beautiful out, consider contacting your local window treatment specialist. New window treatments can protect your home from UV rays and increase efficiency.

#3. Get your HVAC system maintained.

When your HVAC system is working properly and running smoothly, it’s also working as efficiently as possible. That’s why keeping your system in great shape with regular HVAC maintenance is an essential part of keeping your energy bills as affordable as possible.

There are, of course, many things you can do on your own to keep your energy system in good shape. This includes replacing your filters on a monthly basis, cleaning dust and debris off of your system, and clearing any leaves building up around outdoor systems.

Having a local HVAC contractor come out to have a look at your system will make it last longer. It will also help you catch minor issues before they can lead to expensive repairs or even replacement.

#4. Wash with cold water.

Did you know that when you run the washing machine, the part that takes up the most energy is actually warming the water up? Even if the cold water cycle takes longer, you’ll end up saving a lot more energy if you wash in cold water than warm, and luckily, cold water works just as well for cleaning clothes.

It all comes down to detergent. Back in the day, when hand-washing was the norm, detergents required hot water to work most efficiently. Hot water also cut down on the time people had to spend scrubbing their clothes. Modern detergents are formulated to work efficiently regardless of water temperature.

Not only does washing your laundry with cold water help you save energy; it’s also better for your clothes in most cases. Warm water is much harder on the fibers in your clothes, and washing in cold water could actually make your clothes last longer.

The benefits of washing with cold water go beyond laundry. Cold water is also better for your skin and hair. If you can handle it, turn down or off the warm water while you shower.

#5. Make sure your home is properly insulated.

Proper insulation plays a big role in how energy efficient your home is. The better your home is insulated, the more effective it will be at keeping the cool air inside your home and the warm air out. This will make your air conditioner’s job easier, saving you more energy.

According to NAIMA (the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association), 90 percent of homes in the United States aren’t properly insulated. That means that most American households are paying more for their energy bills than they could be, and many don’t even realize it.

If you’re not sure whether or not your home could use additional insulation, contact an insulation contractor near you to find out. Proper insulation will not only help you save more energy, but it can also keep your home quieter and more comfortable.

#6. Be strategic with your landscaping.

Many people realize that landscaping is an important part of curb appeal. The right landscape can make your home look like the best on the block. But, did you know that it could help you save more energy?

Shade can be a very powerful thing for keeping your space cool. A few well-placed trees or bushes could provide your home with a lot more shade, while also adding to your home’s curb appeal.

Work with your local landscaping company to develop a landscaping strategy to keep your home cooler while adding to the aesthetics of your home.

#7. Upgrade your thermostat.

Upgrading to a programmable thermostat is an excellent way to save more energy in your home, especially if you learn how to use your thermostat strategically.

Modern thermostats can be programmed to make adjustments automatically based on your schedule. This way, you won’t be paying to keep your air conditioner running when you don’t need it to, for example, when you’re at work or asleep.

They can also be controlled remotely, so you can turn your thermostat down or off when you’re away from home.

Need help making your home as comfortable and efficient as possible? Find the best home contractors and other local businesses near you with Top Rated Local. With our one-of-a-kind local directory, you can read home contractor reviews from across the web and compare local businesses side by side.

Get started today.

Your Guide to Supporting Local Businesses

Here at Top Rated Local®, it’s no secret that we love local businesses. They’re the lifeblood of what we do because we know that our community wouldn’t be the same without them, and neither would yours.

It’s also no secret that the small businesses that make our communities unique and special need our support right now.

Small businesses have had to make so many changes, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, that have hurt many bottom lines. Some local businesses, unfortunately, have had to close their doors already, and many more are fighting to stay alive.

If you love the local businesses in your area as much as we do, now is the time to start giving back and doing your part. And, luckily, there are plenty of ways that you can support the local businesses you love.

How to Support the Local Businesses You Love

#1. Always shop local first.

One of the very best ways you can show local businesses a little love is by making the simple choice to always shop local before you turn to Amazon or a big box store. For example, if you’re looking for some flowers, start by visiting your local garden center.

You’ll be surprised at just how much you can find in your local community. Too often, people just don’t look because they know that the big box store has what they need, and it’s convenient. However, a little inconvenience is a small price to pay to save the local businesses you love.

Whether you’re shopping for arts and crafts supplies to keep you busy at home or you’re looking for a pest control company to help you keep your home pest-free, always look for a local source first. Even when you’re shopping online, look for local businesses first.

#2. Buy gift cards.

Thanks to the coronavirus, you may not be able to visit your local beauty salon or barber shop, or you may not be able to get a massage or pamper yourself with a pedicure. But, just because in-person services are less accessible right now, it doesn’t mean that you can’t show your support.

Buying gift cards helps you show support to your favorite local businesses in multiple ways. Obviously, it allows you to financially support them, but it also helps you provide emotional support.

When you buy a gift card, you’re sending the business in question the message that you plan to work with them in the future. You have faith that they’ll be around when you feel safe going out and getting your nails done again or visiting your hairstylist. That hope is contagious and a powerful motivator.

#3. Write positive reviews.

Most consumers don’t understand the full weight of what reviews do for local businesses. They seem them as a way to give feedback and inform other consumers, but for businesses, they provide powerful testimonies that encourage other consumers to have their own experiences with the business. Reviews also help to make local businesses more visible online.

Reviews are everything to your modern-day local business, and if you want to support your favorite businesses, writing reviews is a great way to do so. The best part about this kind of support is that you don’t have to spend any money, at a time when financial support may just not be in your budget right now.

Take some time to write reviews for the local businesses in your community that you’ve come to rely on over the years. Be honest about your experience, and use the opportunity to let them know why they’re so important to you.

#4. Refer them to your friends and family.

Another powerful way that you can help local businesses in your community stay afloat is by sending business their way. You may not need what they have to provide, but if you know someone who does, let them know who to turn to.

People trust their friends and family to send them to someone they can rely on. Referrals almost always lead to business for local companies.

Not only are you helping local businesses when you make referrals, but you’re also helping your friends and family. It takes time to research local businesses online, but a quick referral from you helps them find someone they can trust right away.

#5. Share the love on social media.

In this day and age, a local business’s visibility online can make or break its success. There’s a lot of competition online these days, and since most people don’t look past the first page of Google, it means that a lot of businesses are competing for only a handful of rankings for competitive keywords.

One way you can help the businesses you love to be more visible online — and therefore, more successful — is to promote them on social media. You can share about an experience you’ve had or just express your gratitude for how they’ve impacted your community.

Even if you don’t have thousands of followers, anything you can do to spread the word about the local businesses you love will make an impact.

#6. Take advantage of online services.

A lot of businesses that have had to restrict or eliminate in-person services have shifted to offering services online. For instance, some fitness centers are offering online classes and online personal training sessions, and some hairstylists are offering online consultations.

Stay connected with the local businesses you love online so that you can be in the know about any online services they’re offering. Visit their website regularly, follow them on social media, and sign up for email newsletters to stay up to date.

If you’re in the market for a local business to support, start with Top Rated Local — your go-to local business directory. Search for local businesses near you in a wide range of categories, read a business’s reviews from across the web, and directly compare local businesses to each other side by side — all from one place.

Start your local business search with Top Rated Local today.

Pro Tips for Baking at Home

The pandemic has led to a lot of free time, and if your Instagram feed is anything like mine, it seems that lots and lots of people are using that free time to bake.

From banana bread and decadent cakes to melty cookies and brownies, lots of people have been perfecting their baking skills from home.

Baking tasty treats is easy, but with a little know-how, you can bake like a pro.

6 Tips for Baking Delicious Treats at Home

#1. Fully read the recipe before you get started.

No one expects you to memorize a recipe before you get started on it. It’s totally acceptable to consult your recipe step by step as you go; however, the first time you read it should not be during showtime.

Before you start pulling out ingredients and measuring cups, take the time to fully read the recipe. Lots of novice bakers will check that they have everything on the ingredient list and call it good, but you can miss out on a lot if you only read as you go.

Prepare yourself for what you’ll need to do in the recipe by reading it ahead of time.

#2. Measure your ingredients properly.

Believe it or not, there’s a right way and a wrong way to measure your ingredients, and if you do it wrong, you can end up with way too much or way too little of an ingredient. That can leave you with an end result with a different texture, shape, size, or taste than what you wanted.

Here are a few tips for measuring your ingredients properly:

  • Dry Ingredients – Measure sugar, flour, baking powder, and other dry ingredients by lightly spooning them into the measuring cup until they overflow, and then level it with a knife. Never dip your measuring cup directly into the ingredient; you could end up with up to 150 percent more than you need.
  • Wet Ingredients – Measure liquids like milk, oil, or water using a clear measuring cup sitting on a level surface, and crouch down so that you are eye-level with the measuring cup. Measure vanilla and other liquids directly into measuring spoons, pouring over a sink to prevent overflow.
  • Butter – Sticks of butter are typically eight tablespoons that are divided equally on the wrapper. Cut the butter and paper it’s wrapped in with a sharp knife.

#3. Get the consistency of your butter right.

The vast majority of baked goods have at least one thing in common — butter. Butter is the foundation of many-a-baked-good, and while you may not think the consistency of the butter will make or break anything, it’s actually incredibly important.

Here are the three butter consistencies you’ll run into and what they mean:

  • Chilled – If a recipe is calling for chilled butter, it wants butter that’s been well-chilled — i.e. chilled in the refrigerator or freezer so well that it won’t melt while mixing. Chilled butter is what makes pie crusts, biscuits, and scones so flaky.
  • Room-Temperature – A recipe that’s calling for room-temperature butter is looking for butter that’s cool to the touch. When you place your finger in it, it should leave an indent, but shouldn’t be so soft that it slides super easily. To achieve this consistency, set your butter on the counter for about an hour before you start a recipe.
  • Melted – Melted butter should be completely liquified, but lukewarm, not hot. If the butter is too hot, it could cook the eggs in your batter (gross!). Melted butter helps to make chocolate chip cookies and brownies chewy and gooey.

#4. Prepare your ingredients ahead of time.

If you wait until you’re in the heat of the moment to scramble to prepare your ingredients, it can make baking feel a little hectic and stressful. Most people bake because it’s relaxing and comforting (and, let’s face it, because who doesn’t love pie?), and you’ll have a much more relaxed bake if you do a little preparation ahead of time.

Before you start preheating the oven, take a few minutes to pull out all of the ingredients you’ll need. To make baking even more peaceful, measure out your ingredients into separate bowls so that you have exactly what you need ahead of time.

Some ingredients will need to be at a specific consistency (see point #3) that you’ll need to prepare for ahead of time, and taking the time to prepare your ingredients before you get started will help you avoid any nasty surprises.

#5. Take recipes out of the oven sooner than directed.

Oven temperatures can vary wildly, and unless you’ve got a brand-spanking-new oven or your oven gets recalibrated on a regular basis, its temperature probably isn’t overly accurate.

Underbaking is much easier to remedy than overbaking, so always make sure to check the minimum baking time, and subtract five to 10 more minutes from it. This is when you should first check on your recipe.

#6. Resist the temptation to open your oven.

Every time you open the oven door, you’re letting a lot of heat out, which can completely change the internal temperature of your oven. This can prevent your recipes from rising or baking properly.

If your oven has a light feature, use that to keep an eye on your baked goods without opening the door. If you need to test how done something is, take it out of the oven quickly, and close the door. Then, do the toothpick test and, if necessary, place the recipe back into the oven, quickly closing the door when you’re done.

Baking is a fun way to fill the time, but most of us will never be able to rival the creations coming out of our favorite local bakeries. Bakeries may or may not be open to in-person business near you, but many are offering curbside pickup and even delivery.

Find a local bakery near you to show your support to with Top Rated Local®. With Top Rated Local, you can find the best bakeries in your area and read bakery reviews from across the web.

Get started today.

What Could a Private Investigator do for You?

To many of us, private investigators are the stuff of movies and books. Although we know that there are a lot of private investigators out there, many of us have no real indication of what they do or how they might be able to help.

The truth is that private investigators can do a lot of things that could benefit everyone from individuals and families to small businesses and major corporations.

10 Things a Private Investigator Can do for You

#1. Infidelity Investigations

Has your spouse been hiding their cell phone or being secretive about their computer? Have they been making every excuse to get out of the house as much as possible? Has there been a marked decline in intimacy in your marriage?

While these signs don’t necessarily mean your spouse is having an affair, they are a few definite red flags. If you have a sinking feeling that your spouse is involved with someone else, but don’t have the proof to confront them, a private investigator can help you uncover the truth.

#2. Background Checks

Are you hiring a nanny to look after your children while you’re at work? Or, maybe you’re a business owner in the process of hiring someone to fill a sensitive or high-ranking position. Either way, getting a thorough background check will help you get the peace of mind you need.

Most private investigators will look into an individual’s criminal history, history of residences, credit history, employment history, and social connections to help you gain a full understanding of who they are.

#3. Divorce Investigations

In a perfect world, divorce would be simple. No one would try to get more than their fair share, and everyone would be amicable. However, that’s not the world we live in, and the truth is that divorce is often messy.

If you’re in the midst of a messy divorce, having a private investigator on your side is smart. From helping to uncover hidden assets to public record digs and surveillance, most private investigators can help you get your fair share.

#4. Adoption Investigations

For some adopted children, finding their birth parents helps them identify their own life stories and answers the questions they’ve had for their whole lives. But, unfortunately, finding your birth parents isn’t always easy. That’s where a private investigator comes in.

Adoption investigations are some of the most personal, emotional cases private investigators take on, so if you’re considering one, make sure that you take the time to find one you trust and will be sensitive to your needs.

#5. Child Custody Investigations

Are you in the midst of or getting ready to take part in a child custody battle? Are you concerned that the lives of the children at stake are at risk if your child custody battle doesn’t go your way? If so, it’s time to consider hiring a private investigator.

Through social media, interviews, and surveillance, a private investigator can help to gather evidence to support your case.

#6. Elder Abuse Investigations

Whether an elderly person you love is living on their own or in a senior living community, it’s important to know the risks of elder abuse and to be able to recognize the signs. Five million Americans are victims of elder abuse each year, and the consequences for the victim can be disastrous.

If you suspect that someone is abusing someone you love, but don’t feel comfortable contacting the authorities without more solid proof, a private investigator can help.

#7. Skip Tracing

Do you want to serve your spouse with divorce papers but are having trouble locating them? Do you need help locating a witness that might be key to a lawsuit? Do you need to find someone who has information you need? If you need help finding someone, it’s time to turn to find a private investigator that offers skip tracing.

Skip tracing is basically just locating someone’s whereabouts, and, luckily, it’s something most private investigators offer.

#8. Surveillance

Surveillance can be useful in many different types of cases, from divorce investigations to infidelity investigations. But, it’s not something that people can typically do on their own, because it often requires skill and experience.

If you need professional surveillance for any reason, I highly recommend working with a good private investigator near you.

#9. Risk Assessment

Have you or your business recently been threatened? Are you thinking about making a big decision, but unsure about whether or not it’s worth the risks?

Evaluating threats and risks is one of the biggest reasons to turn to a private investigator. A private investigator can help you determine which risks to take on and which threats to take seriously, giving your peace of mind.

#10. Corporate Investigations

Are you thinking of merging your business, taking on a new business partner, or making another big move with your business? If so, a corporate investigation may be the thing you need to help you determine which decisions are right for you.

In addition to doing background research into potential partners and helping you assess the risks of major business decisions, a private investigator can help to look into internal and external threats to your business. These include investigations into employee theft, fraud or embezzlement, and more.

These are just a few of the many cases that a private investigator could help you through. But, whether you’re working with a private investigator to find the truth about your spouse’s infidelity, fight for custody of your children, or locate your birth parent, it’s imperative that you find a private investigator you feel comfortable with. That’s where Top Rated Local® comes in.

We’re your go-to local business directory because we make it easy to find local businesses you can trust. With Top Rated Local, you can read private investigator reviews from across dozens of verified sites and quickly compare private investigators based on their online reputation as a whole.

Find a private investigator near you today.

Tips for a Successful Move During a Pandemic

The pandemic adds another layer of stress to already stressful situations, and moving is no exception. The more you know about staying safe, the more prepared you’ll be and the more peace of mind you’ll have.

6 Tips for a Safer Move During Coronavirus

#1. Find the right moving company.

Finding the right moving company is important regardless of whether or not a pandemic is going on, but it’s especially important during a pandemic. Movers will be coming in and out of your home, handling all of your boxes and furniture. You want to know that the moving company you’re working with is taking steps to keep their clients and employees safe.

Here are a few things to look for in a moving company:

  • Licensing and insurance – Always make sure that any moving company you work with has the appropriate license for your move — whether it be a local move or a cross-country move. It’s also critical that they are properly insured in case anything goes wrong during your move.
  • Paid sick time – The last thing that you want is for a sick mover to be working in your home. Make sure that any company you hire encourages its employees to stay home when they’re sick and offers paid sick time.
  • Safety equipment – Your movers should have all of the equipment necessary to keep you and their employees safe and healthy, including masks and hand sanitizer for all of their employees.
  • Contactless moving – Many moving companies are offering contactless moving, which includes virtual estimates and taking steps to maintain social distancing during the move.

#2. Learn the options for postponing or rescheduling.

If there’s one thing we can all take away from the coronavirus pandemic it’s that you never know what the future has in store. One day, we were all going about our normal routines, and the next, we’re all trying to navigate the intricacies of homeschooling and working from home.

Life is unpredictable, and you need to know if life gets in the way, you’ve hired a moving company that makes postponing or rescheduling your move easy and painless. Whatever the reason for needing flexibility with your move, it’s important that any mover you hire offers the kind of flexibility you need.

#3. Invest in fresh moving materials.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the primary way the coronavirus spreads is from person to person, and although it’s not transferred easily from a surface, it’s still possible to get infected after encountering the virus living on a surface. That means that it’s probably in your best interest to invest in fresh, new moving materials rather than looking for used ones.

I am normally a proud proponent of looking for free boxes at liquor stores and grocery stores. They often have plenty of great boxes that are perfect for moving. But these are not normal times, and you’ll have more peace of mind knowing where your boxes have come from and who has handled them.

#4. Do the packing and unpacking yourself.

Relying on your movers to pack your belongings is a great way to reduce your stress during the moving process, but again, times are not exactly normal. Packing and unpacking involve close handling of your belongings, which raises your risk of getting infected.

Moving during the middle of a pandemic can be risky, but the more of your move that you can handle yourself, the less of a risk you’ll be taking. Try limiting the jobs that your movers take on to only the ones that you can’t do yourself.

It’s also important to realize that the safety risks are greater inside your home than outside your home. So while it may be acceptable for movers to be in your home for a few minutes carrying a load in, having them hang around for hours to pack and unpack is a different matter.

#5. Follow health and safety guidelines.

Keep in mind all health and safety guidelines regarding coronavirus during your move. That means, when you’re inside with the movers, wear a mask and ask that any movers entering your home wear masks, too. Also, wash your hands frequently and make your sink available to your movers so that they can wash their hands frequently, too.

Most importantly, maintain your distance with the movers. When they come to the door, greet them with a smile instead of a handshake, and request that any forms that need to be filled out can be completed online. Thoroughly label furniture and boxes so that your movers don’t have to ask where things go.

#6. Wipe down anything and everything.

Before your movers start bringing things into your new home, make sure that it’s thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, making sure to put an emphasis on high-touch surfaces, like doorknobs, counters, faucets, etc. You could even consider waiting for 24 hours before unpacking your boxes, giving any virus that may be living on your boxes time to die off before you unpack. As you’re unpacking, it’s also a good time to wipe down your belongings.

Consult the CDC’s guidelines on how household cleaning and disinfecting.

Find the right local moving company near you with Top Rated Local®.

As I said in my first tip, finding the right mover is always important, but it’s especially important right now in the midst of the pandemic. But, finding the right mover is not always easy to do, especially when all of the moving companies in your community claim to be the best.

One of the best things you can do to ensure you’ve found the right company is to learn what their previous clients are saying about them, and you can do that by reading their reviews.

With Top Rated Local, you can read moving company reviews from across every verified review site, including Google, Facebook, and Yelp, and you’ll be able to compare the online reputations of movers in your area virtually instantaneously with the Rating Score™ system.

Start your search for a local mover with Top Rated Local today!

Professional Tips for Working from Home (and When to Turn to an IT Pro)

When you’re working from home, IT isn’t exactly just a phone call away.

Many of us are working from homes for the first time, and while it’s been great to have constant access to the pantry, the downside is that IT can’t quickly step in if you have a problem. That’s why, today, I’m going to give you a few tips on how to keep the IT blues away while working from home.

5 IT Tips for Working From Home

#1. Keep a close eye on the battery.

If you’re used to working from a desktop computer, you don’t have to think twice about the battery running out, because it’s plugged directly into the wall. But, when you’re working from a laptop, it’s important that you keep an eye on your battery, especially if you’re working somewhere you can’t keep your laptop plugged in all day long.

Why is it so important to keep a close eye on your battery? An unexpected power loss can create all kinds of mayhem, from losing your work to causing damage to your laptop’s operating system.

It’s all too easy to get caught up in what you’re doing and forget to keep an eye on your battery power. Try to find a workspace near an outlet so that you can keep your laptop plugged in, or set a timer to look at the battery every couple of hours (depending on how long your laptop battery typically lasts.

#2. Make sure that your laptop can breathe.

Overheating is a common problem laptop users face, and it’s even more common with so many people now working from laptops on their laps these days. If you work with your laptop in your lap, especially if there’s also a blanket involved, it can block the fans that keep your laptop from overheating. The correct placement of your laptop is on a flat, hard, clean surface. This allows the proper ventilation to flow through your laptop, which makes it possible to “breathe.”

If your laptop’s fan is overactive on a regular basis, and you can feel your laptop getting hot all the time, you may also consider investing in a laptop that has cooling pads to prevent it from overheating.

Overheating can damage both the internal and external components of your laptop, and it can be pricey to fix. You can also help to prevent overheating by making sure the vents are free from dust and debris.

#3. Be careful with liquids.

If you’re anything like me, a cup of coffee is a non-negotiable part of your workday. However, you should be extremely careful about where you put that cup of coffee in relation to your laptop. You may also want to consider using a travel mug or something like it that won’t spill so easily if it’s accidentally knocked over.

Spilling something on your laptop can be incredibly damaging. In fact, liquid damage is the most common reason people take their laptops into a professional for repair, and what’s more is that the average cost to fix a laptop for liquid damage is around $600. In some cases, liquid does so much damage to laptops that it requires full replacement.

Another potential cause of liquid damage to your laptop is cleaning. With coronavirus, we’re all more vigilant about cleaning frequently touched surfaces, and your laptop certainly qualifies. But, it’s critical to clean it the right way to avoid damaging your laptop. Never spray any fluid directly on your laptop. Instead, eliminate germs with a lightly moistened washcloth.

#4. Protect your wifi network.

With so many people now newly working from home, it makes sense that many more people are also working from their private wifi networks. Unfortunately, if your wifi isn’t secure, it can open you up to all kinds of risks.

If your network isn’t secure, it makes it easier for just about anyone to connect to it, giving them access to your data and computer, your usernames and passwords, and your online search data. Here’s what you can do to protect your home wifi network:

  • Create a unique password – Don’t leave the default password for your router. Instead, create a new one, but make sure that it’s long and complicated enough not to be easily hacked into.
  • Disable network name broadcasting – This feature makes it easy for customers to connect to free wifi in select businesses, but it’s unnecessary to enable in private homes.
  • Have a good firewall – While most routers come with a built-in firewall, not all do, and not all firewalls are automatically enabled. If your router doesn’t have a firewall, get a good one, and if it does, make sure that it’s turned on.

#5. Keep your screen locked.

If you are living and working all by yourself, then you probably don’t need to worry too much about your laptop being unlocked. However, if you’ve got kids, or even pets, it’s well worth the seconds it takes to log in to lock your computer screen after a few minutes of inactivity.

All it takes is one rogue paw or sticky finger for the draft of that unfinished email report you’ve been putting together to be sent out, and if your pets are anything like mine, they’re constantly trying to squeeze themselves in my lap between me and my laptop. Besides, keeping your laptop locked is just a good habit to get into for when you eventually go back into the office. If you let yourself get lax about laptop security now, it’ll be easier to let it slip in the future.

While there’s a lot you can do to protect your laptop from home, when damage occurs, you shouldn’t hesitate to turn to a professional when you need one instead of trying to address the problem yourself. The last thing you want to do is cause more damage to your laptop.

When you need computer repair near you, turn to Top Rated Local®. With the ability to read a computer repair shop’s reviews from across the website and quickly see how they stack up against the competition, there’s no other local business directory quite like Top Rated Local.

Tips for Writing More Helpful Reviews

Want to write more helpful online reviews?

Reviews are meant to provide businesses with real feedback from real customers. They are also meant to give prospective customers the information they need to make a decision about working with the business. However, not all reviews are made equal, and not all reviews are actually helpful.

It’s tempting to use reviews as a means of venting frustration about a business or even bragging about great customer service. But, if you really want to write reviews that are helpful to businesses and consumers, you need to learn how to write them the right way.

How to Write Reviews That are Actually Helpful

#1. Try not to get too specific.

While it’s not a good idea to generalize about a business in a review, it’s also not overly helpful if you include a lot of specifics, like the name of the server or technician you had.

A business’s employees absolutely represent the business, but it’s important to realize that employees come and go. If you had a bad experience with one server, for example, it might not be representative of the kind of experience you had overall.

Many review sites also don’t allow doxing (publishing identifying or private information online) of any kind and will take down reviews that violate their policies.

#2. Give context for your review.

Saying that you weren’t satisfied with your service is perfectly acceptable, but if you really want to provide a review that’s helpful to others and gives the business in question feedback they can use, you should also make sure that you give your review more context.

For example, let’s say that a technician wasn’t able to fix the problem you called about or made a mistake in the process. That can definitely create a negative experience, and it’s perfectly valid to write a review about it. However, if they couldn’t complete the repair because the part they needed wasn’t available or the technician bent over backwards to fix their mistake, it paints a very different picture of the business.

#3. Be professional!

One of the fastest ways to ensure that your review is immediately discounted by anyone who reads it is to resort to name calling or pettiness when writing your review. Even if you have a legitimate complaint, personal attacks will outshine any feedback you may be giving. Personal attacks also make you appear unreasonable.

Always try to be as professional as possible when writing a review. If you’re upset, give yourself a few minutes to cool off and gather your thoughts. I know it can be tempting to vent your frustrations in an online review, but if your aim is truly to give feedback and to help other consumers make the right decisions, it needs to be professional.

#4. Try to be objective.

A lot of things can affect the way that we perceive the world around us. Some of those things are in the business’s control – such as the promptness and friendliness of their customer service, the quality of their work or products, etc. — but others have very little to do with the business, like if you’ve had a bad day.

Try to be objective and limit your feedback to only things the business can control. Take a few minutes to ask yourself if your complaints are the result of what really happened or just how you felt at the time. Remember, the point of your review is not to give your personal experience but to give a snapshot of the kind of experience the business provides.

#5. Be honest.

Honesty is incredibly important when writing helpful online reviews. It does neither the business or anyone reading your review any good if you exaggerate or lie about your experience. Defamation isn’t acceptable under any circumstance, including in an online review.

Remember that honesty is always the best policy. Don’t forget that policy when you’re writing online reviews.

#6. Talk about a range of elements.

As I said, an online review is supposed to give other readers a good idea of what working with a business is like. That means that you should try to be cognizant of the entire customer experience rather than choosing to review a single aspect, like punctuality, wait times, or customer service.

If you had a negative experience with a customer service representative, but the technician who helped you was friendly and accommodating, make sure to include all of those things in your review.

It’s for this reason that Top Rated Local® allows you to rate businesses based on the five pillars of the customer experience in addition to writing a review.

#7. Be open to updating your review.

Your review doesn’t have to be set in stone, and it’s completely OK to go back and update your review if you’ve received more information. Sometimes, when a business hears negative feedback, they’ll bend over backwards to make it right. This is the perfect kind of information to include in your updated review because it shows people that, while the business did make a mistake, they were also willing to make it right.

You might also learn new information that changes the way you looked at the service you received. For example, maybe you were upset about a long wait time, but after you learn that the business was operating with minimal staff because of sickness or personal issues, it’s easy to understand how that could affect your wait.

Review the local businesses near you with Top Rated Local.

Want to write a review about a recent experience you’ve had with a local business? If so, turn to Top Rated Local! As I mentioned, we take reviews one step further by allowing you to rate businesses based on the five pillars of the customer experience — quality, value, timeliness, experience, and satisfaction — and you’ll also have a quick and easy way to access a business’s reviews from across the web.

Not only is Top Rated Local a great place to write reviews; it’s also your go-to local directory when you’re looking for the right local business for your needs. Get started today!