Reviews can make or break a business. Customers value and trust recommendations and referrals made by friends, family and familiar sources within their community and online over any other in the purchasing process. And approximately 90% of American consumers are reported to read reviews for just about any product or service they are contemplating before actually making a purchase.

Those that successfully leverage their positive reviews can see a big boon to their SEO strategy, increasing visibility in search. These five small business leaders share how they make it easy for potential brand advocates to share their experiences and, in turn, elevate brand awareness among a highly engaged audience.

 Realtor inside a home getting it ready for showing.
Cait Berry of Insiders Realty located in Madison, Wisconsin engages with reviewers for a true end to end client experience. — Insiders Realty

Cait Berry, founder, Insiders Realty

Who we are: A Madison, Wisconsin-based boutique real estate firm with a modern approach, insider’s knowledge and a passion for the local community.

Online reviews are a crucial part of our real estate businesses success. Once a transaction is completed, we follow up with an off-boarding packet with lots of good information for our clients to take away from the experience and a prompt for them to contact us at any point down the road. We are always here for them, even if it's years later.

We also ask them to review us on Google, Facebook and/or Zillow—whichever forum they choose. To make it easy, we include the links that direct them straight to where they can leave a review. We also send everyone off with a gift to thank them for working with us. We leverage the reviews by including them in all of our marketing collateral, such as our website, client on-boarding materials and social media posts. We feel strongly that customer reviews help solidify a client's trust in us after we have captured their attention with our creative marketing strategies. Follow Insiders Realty on Instagram & Facebook.

 SMPLFD founder wearing his printing uniform inside the workplace.
Receiving 165+ five-star reviews on Google have been integral to business, particularly during the pandemic, for Detroit’s SMPLFD Printing Co. — SMPLFD

Justin Fishaw, co-founder, SMPLFD

Who we are: Concepts, objects, community and printing services all inspired by the spirit of subculture and the blue-collar work ethic—shaped by Detroit.

In a highly competitive business world that puts the little guy in direct competition with Goliath, plus the impact of COVID-19, the impact online reviews have on local small businesses has never been greater. To me, as a small business owner, this drives the importance of an end-to-end positive customer experience. That’s how I encourage positive customer reviews for my business: I must impress by delivering on the promise my business makes at every step of their journey with us. Once you’ve confidently achieved that with every customer, you can rest assured that the online reviews you garner are organic and positive in nature. And if you don’t want to wait for all of them to arrive organically, you can use an auto email campaign that requests a review after every customer’s product is delivered. The combination of the two is how we’ve amassed 165+ five-star reviews on Google—which has been the main driver of new business in 2020 and 2021. Follow SMPLFD on Instagram here & here.

 Jerry's Kitchen food truck parked in a public area.
Philadelphia-based food truck and catering company Jerry’s Kitchen credits its focus on the importance of customer reviews as a key driver of business. — Jerry's Kitchen

Scott Kaplan, owner, Jerry's Kitchen

Who we are: A Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based mobile catering company that provides modern American food and smiles everywhere we go.

Even in pre-pandemic times, reviews were vital to our business. We live in a digital world, one in which a prospective customer can simply head to Google and find details on just about everything related to your business from menu to location to employees. When we opened seven years ago, we were mindful about our online reputation and put garnering positive reviews at the forefront of our strategy.

Most folks would assume that the review is about the actual event, but I've noticed Jerry's Kitchen needs to shine from the minute we first pick up the phone to engage with a customer to the time the final garbage bag hits the bin. It takes a lot to motivate a client to take a moment out of their day and write something nice about their experience with your business. That's why we conduct a debrief call a few days after the event with the customer to ensure everything went perfectly. It also gives us an opportunity to remind them to write a review if they were truly blown away by our services.

Positive reviews have a magical effect on potential customers and we've been blessed with some of the most heartfelt, gushing and honest reviews a business can receive. When we do finally chat on the phone, the first thing they'll say is, "Oh, my God, you have some of the best reviews. Please tell me you still have availability on my date!" To put it in cooking terms, the prospect has been "pre-baked," or pre-sold. Our reviews have done most of the heavy lifting when it comes to marketing. Follow Jerry's Kitchen on Instagram & Facebook.

 Display of Tessemae's products on a kitchen counter.
Tessemae’s uses a strategy to syndicate thousands of online reviews to their partner retail websites to amplify their online presence across highly trafficked platforms. — Tessemae’s

Genevieve Vetter, chief brand officer, Tessemae’s

Who we are: Tessemae's is a flavor-forward food company based in Essex, Maryland, that makes clean-label, organic products with uncompromising ingredients of the highest quality.

I think the key with reviews is consistency and transparency. Customers are looking for reviews to verify their assumptions are correct or for additional information. With so many platforms out there for consumers to choose from, we had to make reviews a priority to make sure our customers had the most information possible to make the best decision possible.

We’ve implemented a strategy to syndicate thousands of online reviews to our partner retail websites, including and Additionally, we’ve exposed our review star-rating at the category level to enhance the customer shopping experience on and make it easier for customers to discover top-selling items and develop trust with our brand. All of this is used to better understand our customers wants and innovate for things that they have suggested to us. Our Everything Bagel Ranch was an online contest for our customers to pick our next product. Once selected, we even sent some of our most loyal customers products to sample before we launched to get their feedback. That engagement and those responses go a long way in maintaining trust with our consumers as we grow. Follow Tessemae's on Instagram, Facebook & Twitter.

 Display of bags by Dagne Dover.
Bags that keep up, stay organized and look good doing it from New York City-based Dagne Dover. — Dagne Dover

Deepa Gandhi, co-founder & COO, Dagne Dover

Who we are: Dagne Dover creates problem-solving bags - for all the problem-solving humans out there.

At Dagne Dover, our customers are always a priority. Since the inception of our brand, their feedback has been integral to our success. We frequently send emails encouraging them to leave honest reviews, making sure we know what they love and what they think we should be doing better. We also see these reviews as an opportunity for them to get real-life feedback from other consumers.

We recently launched a loyalty program where we wanted to make sure that customer interaction was a key component. Not only do we offer points and program perks for leaving reviews, but we have integrated submitting user-generated content as another way to earn rewards. Additionally, reviews and customer feedback are a key step for us in the product design process, and serve as a guide in improving our customer service experience. We want to make sure that we are always listening to the needs of our community and being proactive in making changes where need be. Follow Dagne Dover on Instagram & LinkedIn.

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