A SERVICE helping homeowners to avoid the cowboys and aid tradesmen seeking work and to build their reputation has gone live in the region.
Localandtrusted.com was the brainchild of friends, former Northumberland County Council health and safety manager Terry McGuinness and Steve Hair, who owns Red Kite Construction and Development.
The website is free for homeowners to advertise a job, which ‘trusted’ building specialists express an interest in. The homeowner can then view the firm’s profile, including their quote, references and qualifications.
McGuinness, who previously ran a franchise developing websites alongside his day job, had seen big national companies running sites with a similar flavour.
But he said: “None had a local flavour, there was too much of a blanket approach and no regional listings or community spirit. We discussed it and came up with a business model based on trying to build up a community where both the homeowner and the tradesman benefits.”
Hair reckons that small building firms can often miss out on some of the opportunities provided by the internet.
“It was clear to me that a lot of fantastic local tradesmen are not getting the opportunity to quote for jobs they could complete expertly, simply because, for whatever reason, they didn’t have sufficient online presence.
“Many small outfits have websites but they can’t afford the marketing spend required to get their sites found. Our website changes that completely.”
The Newcastle-based firm checks the references of all the tradesmen allowed on the site and they are initially listed as unverified.
They become ‘trusted’ after receiving a minimum of two verifications from customers on the site.
McGuinness said: “Once they receive consistently high feedback from Local and Trusted customers, they become ‘highly trusted’. We believe the site gives us the opportunity to do our bit and encourage qualified tradesmen to join us and it is easy for people to see their skills.
“What people like is that they can post the details of their job, plus their details are never exchanged with the tradesmen until the homeowner decides to do that.
“The homeowner can instantly view the profiles – their experience, qualifications and most importantly they can see the reviews from customers which we verify.
“The feedback is like eBay and is based on punctuality, communications, the finished product and value for money.”
The website has been live since March and has won support from builders’ merchant JT Dove. It is aiming to take on additional administration staff as it grows and McGuinness has ambitions to roll out the concept nationally.
“But it’s very important to keep that local flavour either through licensing to someone locally or by franchising.” he added.