What is trusted about and what are the results from the trusted partners and the publics sides?
The comprehensive feature in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix Monday 7th Oct 2013 lays it all out beautifully!
Trusted really is the SMART & SIMPLE choice.
Part 1 - the Trusted Story
How many times have you wished someone could recommend a good lawyer? Or plumber? Or financial advisor? There are times you need expertise or just good advice and it's hard to know who to trust. Where do you look to find un-bias information on businesses and services? Imagine that same feeling when you are one of the 100,000 plus newcomers who have arrived in Saskatchewan from another province or another country since 2007. Sara Wheelwright, the founder of S & E Trusted Online Directories, Inc. arrived in Canada from the U.K. in 2006, and she needed everything. As a newcomer it was tough finding businesses and services she felt comfortable trusting. There were lots of differences about Saskatchewan life, both large and small. For example, she had never seen a furnace before!
She didn't know anyone, so she spent hours Googling and researching where to go, yet she still encountered bad service. It occurred to her then that it would be a good idea to have an online database of local verified businesses for the thousands of immigrants and newcomers', like herself, that arrive in Saskatchewan each month. In 2008, she found herself working fulltime and a single mom to three small children. Finding good quality work and businesses she could trust was more important than ever. "I ran a busy and hectic household and I didn't have a lot of spare cash or time available," notes Wheelwright. "Then one day I made what I thought was an educated choice in selecting a service provider. It was an emergency situation and afterwards I was left feeling taken advantage of, both emotionally and financially." The service provider took longer than they advertised to show up to fix the problem. Then they charged a ridiculous fee for an item that costs pennies. In the end the final invoice was triple the original quote. Her father wished he could be there to help out and was annoyed she'd been treated so unfairly, and he said he wished there was a trustworthy directory for single women to refer to.
Wheelwright quickly realized she wasn't alone. People from all walks of life want to deal with trustworthy businesses, not just newcomers. When she began to ask around it soon became clear that regardless of marital status or income, it seemed everyone had a story about being treated badly by a disreputable business in the past. Wouldn't it be great if there was a way to list the great companies in a useful format like an online directory? The directory would have to be unique. It would have to work for the consumers, not the businesses. It would have to demand excellence in service as standard. A directory that could be trusted - no fingers crossed.
TrustedSaskatoon. com launched in 2011. But it's more than a simple online directory of local shops and service providers, and it is not simply a place to share reviews. The Trusted directory is unique in that it only allows 100 per cent verified and real testimonials from the businesses that are featured. "After a business is nominated and then submits an application, we go out and speak to the customers ourselves," explains Wheelwright, "over the phone and in person as part of that application process. The businesses don't pay to be Trusted. They earn their Trusted status by passing the application process, being fully verified and by agreeing to uphold their contractual obligations." Companies do pay a small monthly fee that goes towards membership - this covers running costs, networking events and the far reaching and unique marketing campaign that spreads the word to the public. Wheelwright also adds, her team's certification process doesn't end with initial acceptance either. "Just to make sure we also have a mystery shopper program in place, and we have had to remove businesses and turn others down who were not able to achieve the required standards or who were unwilling to do what was required to retain their status." Contracts are on an annual basis, and if issues come up, there is a clearly defined dispute resolution process that works towards an amicable resolution if a customer is dissatisfied with a Trusted business. The website also offers a treasure trove of tips, information and advice supplied by the Trusted partners, who are the local experts in their industries - over 300 articles cover more than 60 categories. After reading through the tips on the website on a particular subject, a user can then go into the Trusted business that submitted the tip and get more information. It's that connection between consumer to business that makes TrustedSaskatoon.com so unique, and it really is a wonderful local resource and online community. "We have built a valuable local resource library - everything from tips on car care, health and wellness, travel, pets and even financial tips," says Wheelwright. Trusted encourages the public's input via their Facebook page, Twitter and email. Public feedback is then shared with businesses and businesses are able to share information directly with the public. By increasing the level of communication the standard of customer service inevitably rises.
Since launching the website has steadily gained a following with over 100,000 individual visitors passing through its virtual doors, up to 560 a day! With over 65 per cent from Saskatoon and over 80 per cent from Saskatchewan, this is a truly local service. Within a year Trusted spread to Regina. TrustedRegina.com offers the same service and offers local advice and tips from Trusted Regina experts.
Earlier this year, Wheelwright launched the Trusted Canada App, which was built by Saskatoon's CollegeMobile, Inc. Thousands of users have downloaded the app. With people's hectic days, the Trusted Canada app keeps Trusted businesses at their fingertips no matter where they roam. TrustedSaskatoon.com is invested in the community and is an enthusiastic supporter of many local events and non-profits including Child Find Sask, BPW International Women's Day Athena Awards, Synergy-8 events, City Hospital Foundation, Campbell Homes' Pink House, YWCA, The Little Red Dress Club and Saskatchewan Senior Volunteer Awards just to name a few. So the next time you wonder where to find a good electrician or a new hot tub, look for the Trusted thumbs up... they are local and they care.
Did you know...?
According to Google Canadians spend 17.2 hours a week online -that's more time than any other nation in the world, and online reviews and a companies' online reputation are rapidly growing factors in decisions people make on a daily basis. TrustedSaskatoon. com offers verified testimonials from local businesses who meet the criteria.
What Trusted partners are saying
"I am not very technical and don't really use the internet or Facebook personally at all, my only form of advertising was the Yellow Pages but that didn't seem to be working as well as before. I realised that I am now in the minority, and that to continue to grow I had to have an online presence. The TrustedSaskatoon.com team approached me when some customers nominated me, and I admit I was a bit sceptical but met with them to see what was involved. I am so glad I did, as it really opened my eyes and I can say it is the best thing I have done advertising wise for my business, I get many more calls from TrustedSaskatoon.com compared to my Yellow Page ad which I am reducing in size significantly next year. The calls are mostly local , but I also have had some calls from out of province from landlords with revenue properties and condo buildings in Saskatoon. I am proud to be a Trusted Saskatoon business." - Hal McGinnis, The Carpet Guys, Trusted Saskatoon Carpet Cleaners
"Before I was approached by TrustedSaskatoon.com I had never really advertised. Most of my business came from word of mouth, but with over 500 realtors in the city it can be tricky to stand out from the crowd. I thought the idea was brilliant and immediately signed up, like Sara I had moved around in my life and knew what it was to start a new life in a new city and all the challenges that presented, I wish Trusted had been around for me. I can honestly say it has been a wonderful experience all round, my investment has more than paid for itself and the additional value offered by Sara and the Trusted team to the partners is priceless. They have helped me with social media and understanding what I can do to stand out online, they have done some fantastic videos of a condo development I am the realtor for in Warman, and explained to me how important it is to have a good online reputation in the world today. Another benefit is I have a group of fantastic local businesses that I network with and can recommend to my clients knowing they will be looked after. My business has gone from strength to strength in the last few years and I know that being a Trusted Saskatoon business is meaning more and more to the public." - Marla Janzen, Century 21 Fusion, a Trusted Saskatoon real estate agent and the first Trusted Saskatoon partner to sign up
"Trusted Saskatoon is now a household brand name in Saskatoon that everyone has heard of. Why wouldn't Glenwood Auto want to be a part of it? Trusted Saskatoon has helped grow my business in the fast-growing, fast-paced world of social media." - Robert Scott, Glenwood Auto Service
What the public is saying about Trusted
"What an amazing site! It is especially helpful to someone like myself who moved her from another province! Nobody likes to be taken advantage of! Luv it!" - Sherry Ann G., Saskatoon
"I have just discovered your page, I like what you do. Thank you!" - Susan Tady, Saskatoon
"After asking the SGI gent who would you recommend He told me he couldn't say, so okay then... If this was your car where would you take it? He mentioned a few with good service, bad work/great work, poor service. I said I think I'll look and see if there's a trusted one. Told him all about TrustedSaskatoon. com and a few others that happen to have nothing else to do while they waited for their turn. Thanks Trusted, for making this easier!" - Chantelle Butterfield, SK
"What a good thing TrustedSaskatoon.com is. Like them on Facebook and you might win prizes like me. At the very least you will have access to good info (great article on fencing a while ago) and find out which companies are worth your business." - Teresa Gagne., a Trusted Saskatoon.com Facebook contest winner
"I'd like to thank you for taking the time and effort to make a difference in our community. Your services and ambitions are appreciated." - Michael Lander, Saskatoon
"Trusted is the real deal! My husband and I contacted Trusted after having issues with a vehicle that we purchased from a Trusted Auto dealer a few years ago. We notified the owner of Trusted Saskatoon (Sara Wheelwright), who got us in touch with the operations manager. We promptly met with him to iron out our concerns and he dealt with them in a straightforward and timely fashion. He and other staff showed us utmost respect and patience. In the end we walked away feeling very satisfied. We have used more Trusted businesses since and recommend them to anyone looking to purchase as we have found them to be honest and to live by the Trusted Guarantees! Thank-you!" - Tracey D , Warman
What kind of Saskatoon businesses partner with Trusted?
The nomination process leads to partnering with amazing Saskatoon businesses. Just look through the directory and you will find high profile award-winning Saskatoon companies , long-established Saskatoon businesses, and innovative new start-ups you may never have heard of before. Regardless of size, age or demographics the common bonds are integrity, honesty and a commitment to the five Trusted Guarantees BEFORE being approached by a Trusted representative. The Trusted partners as a group give back to their community - in a huge way like Campbell Homes Pink House in support of the Breast Health Centre and Decora Homes Support of the Crisis Nursery, to those that have helped individuals in times of crisis like 3'n1 Construction, KTS Custom Cabinets, Spa Ahava, Saskatoon Woodworks, and Hairstyle Inn. Trusted shares these stories via social media to encourage more local support. See the articles in the TrustedSaskatoon.com tips library and check out the videos on The Trusted Channel on You Tube.
The Trusted Saskatoon businesses are not perfect, but the Trusted team believe that Trustedsaskatoon.com promotes the best our city has to offer.