THE HERALD BUSINESS JOURNAL EVERETT, WASHINGTON
Published: Monday, August 19, 2013
Screener links homeowners with good contractors
EDMONDS — Cari Barron remembers the call for help with a flooded rental property.
Large waves and extreme high tides last winter rushed into the two-story property on Beach Drive in West Seattle, destroying the lower portion. Barron, founder and owner of Contractor Hotline LLC, helped the property owner connect with specialists who could repair the damage.
“We were able to get people there immediately to resolve the drainage problem, get the property dried and gutted out, and begin the renovation process,” she said. “They were so grateful to have somebody that they could rely on to walk them through that process and make it easier and less stressful than it already was.”
In August 2006, Barron started Contractor Hotline, a home services referral network for people living in Snohomish and King counties. When she launched a website for her small Edmonds-based business in January 2007, she had a network of 20 contractors to match with customers in need of qualified and reliable home improvement and service professionals. Now she works with about 40 contractors.
In order to be part of the network, contractors must pass a screening process and continually meet high standards, said Barron, 52. She makes sure each contractor is licensed, bonded and insured, has positive references and is in good standing with the Better Business Bureau and Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. She also conducts regular credential audits and performance evaluations.
When a customer calls, Barron learns about their needs in order to refer a contractor who will contact them directly to follow up about their home improvement project. The service is free to her customers because Barron earns a commission from the contractors who do the work. She provides personal service and support to her customers throughout the process, Barron added.
“I’m involved with every project, making sure customers are completely satisfied,” she said. “I check in and make sure that contractors showed up on time, they were courteous in their home, and picked up after themselves.”
Keeping her small business personal is important to Barron. While business has doubled every year since 2010, she has also known challenging times in the years since founding Contractor Hotline.
“I had to question it a couple of times when the economy was at its worst, but I just hung in there and managed to keep it going,” Barron said. “I’m glad I stuck it out. You have to be passionate about something to get through the really tough stuff and now I appreciate it even more.”
Jeff Kulik, 52, first heard about Contractor Hotline through a mail flyer and over the past several years has used the business to find several contractors. The Edmonds resident recommends the referral business that has helped him simplify home improvements, including a patio extension and driveway replacement.
“When I call (Barron) and explain the problem I have, she takes the ball and she runs with it,” Kulik said. “I know she’s in constant contact with the contractor and me, asking me how I think the process is going. She just takes all the difficult parts of what I would do out of my hands.”
Kulik said he is planning to remodel his kitchen and will probably use Contractor Hotline again soon. Like Kulik, many of her customers call more than once, Barron said. Although most of her business comes from repeat customers and referrals, she added that one of her goals is to attract new customers while maintaining exceptional customer service.
“We’ve all been on hold with utility or phone companies and you know how frustrating it is when you wait and wait and sometimes they can help you and sometimes they can’t,” Barron said. “I get so frustrated with poor customer service. I vowed my customers would never experience that.”
Posted: 03/05/2010 1:53 PM
(AGING-IN-PLACE) Homeowner Referral Service Features Certified Aging-in-Place Specialsts
Contractor Hotline LLC has added Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists (CAPS) to its contractor network. Developed by The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and the American Association of Retired People (AARP), the CAPS program trains contractors to meet the needs of seniors planning to safely and independently age in their current home.
CAPS-provided services run the gamut from simple design modifications to extensive remodels converting bathrooms, kitchens and other areas into senior-friendly spaces.
The Edmonds, WA-based hotline now features CAPS in its service directory in response to a growing senior clientele with a desire to age-in-place. “There is an every growing need to better enable seniors to live independent and productive lives in their own homes,” Contractor Hotline owner Cari Barron tells HSR. “They have the skills to design and make functional, yet attractive modifications that will blend seamlessly with the home’s current style.”
Contractor Hotline refers pre-screened contractors at no cost to homeowners in Seattle-area King and Snohomish counties.
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PUBLISHED FEBRUARY 18, 2010
Homeowner Referral Service Adds Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists To Contractor Network
Contractor Hotline, LLC PO Box 1775
Edmonds WA, 98020
Contractor Hotline adds Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists (CAPS) to their contractor referral services. CAPS are trained specifically in home safety and accessibility modifications to meet the needs of those planning to age in place and remain independent in their current homes.
Online PR News – 18-February-2010 –FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
EDMONDS, Washington (February 17, 2010) – Contractor Hotline, LLC, a referral service for homeowners comprised of a network of pre-screened home improvement professionals, adds Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists (CAPS) to their list of services to help homeowners locate qualified contractors specializing in home safety and accessibility modifications. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and the American Association of Retired People (AARP) developed the CAPS program to provide training for contractors specifically to meet the needs of those planning to age in place in their current homes and remain as independent as possible.
Contractor Hotline business owner, Cari Barron recognized the need to include this valuable service to their already extensive network of home services. “Millions of Americans are living longer and more active lives”, said Barron. “There is a growing need to ensure a safe, productive, and independent lifestyle well into our golden years. Planning and making appropriate home modifications in advance can help prevent accidents and provide a more secure and accessible living environment.”
Design changes can range from a few simple items to a more complex remodel, depending on the individuals current needs and their plans for the future. Installing attractive stability bars and non-slip flooring accessories in a bathroom; improved lighting in hallways, work areas, and along outdoor pathways; and continuous handrails on both sides of stairways are simple and relatively inexpensive modifications. More extensive remodels can convert kitchens, bathrooms, or entire living spaces into spacious, functional, and yet very attractive living areas. Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists will work with the homeowner to assess both current and potential future needs and help make these important and life-enhancing modifications.
Consulting with a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist is the first step in helping determine specific needs and the many options and related benefits available. Contractor Hotline can recommend at no cost to homeowners, qualified, professional contractors that have not only completed the CAPS program but also comply with their extensive screening criteria. Contractors in their network have proven they not only excel at their craft, but are licensed, bonded and insured, courteous, trustworthy, and competitively priced. Contractor Hotline is available throughout the entire process from the initial consultation appointment throughout completion of the project and beyond. To learn more, please visit www.contractorhotline.net.
Cari Barron, Owner