Need to find an air conditioning repair man or plumber? How about a contractor to do your kitchen remodel, an eye doctor, or a lawyer to draft your will? You may be tempted to open the yellow pages and call a business with a location closest to your home, but that could be a costly mistake.
"There's no way to determine if that business is a quality business. The information that is presented to you in the yellow pages is developed to get you to do one thing: call. You don't know if the company you're calling is reputable, has customer referrals, or is even capable of doing a good job. But, what if you could find the business from a trusted source such as your neighbor?" says Brian Mehnert, director of NeighborReferrals.com. The Web site, launched in January, 2005, is a free service people can use to share information with their friends and neighbors about both positive and negative experiences they've had with businesses that have done work for them.
Padma Hiremath, 36, of Aldie, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C., discovered NeighborReferrals.com this past July when she had to find a company to reseal her driveway. "I've been using Respond.com (an online community that matches consumers with quality merchants) for a couple of years now and when I went there this time, I couldn't find a service provider in my neighborhood so I decided to check out the link to Respond Neighborhoods on their homepage," she says.
When she clicked on the link, she was redirected to www.neighborreferrals.com, where she was prompted to form a neighborhood group of her own and given the tools needed to invite her friends and neighbors to join. Within just a few days, a dozen people had joined and all of them posted five or six referrals of their own. Among those referrals were a deck builder, pediatrician, dentist, veterinarian and a driveway repair service that had just completed work on a nearby street.
"The referral came from a neighbor I didn't know, so I walked over to their house to check out the work and was impressed enough to follow through on the referral," says Hiremath. Not only did she save time by not having to go out and find a reputable business on her own, she saved money. "When I called the company up, they were a lot cheaper than other services I had found on my own."
"When someone like a driveway repair company or deck builder comes into a neighborhood and does a good job, that business is likely to get more business from some of the homeowner's neighbors. If that homeowner puts a good review up on our site, that word of mouth has the potential to reach hundreds more people," says Mehnert.
So far, most of the people who have joined are members of neighborhood communities and some homeowner associations. "Anyone can join -- friends, family, co-workers, school groups, even alumni associations," says Mehnert. Courtesy of ARA Content