Urban Referrals, a contractor referral service in Washington, DC, just changed ownership. Sarah and John Steel are the new captains at the helm, and we had a brief chat with Sarah about where they came from (DC!) and what you can expect from their service.
First off, how did you come to Urban Referrals?
It happened organically. I’m friends with the former owner, Marla Ray, and have used Urban Referral several times for projects in my home. When Marla relocated out of the area, she started thinking about selling the company to someone local to the DC area. We had a few conversations about it and ultimately, that “someone” was my husband, John and me.
What’s your background?
John and I have both been in the DC area for nearly 20 years. My background is in business development and operations. I’ve managed so many company relocations and new build-outs over the years that I decided to get a Master’s degree in real estate development and construction. John’s background is in managing large computer networks. He’s a genius with processes and procedures. I’m used to being out in front and he’s used to being behind the scenes — we make a good team!
So how exactly does Urban Referrals work?
It all starts with the Urban Referrals web site and completing the Referral Request Form (found at the “Find a Contractor” button). That request comes to me and I match the client with our contractors and then facilitate the exchange of contact information and project details between them.
From there, the client and contractor work together directly, although Urban Referrals is still available for any questions, concerns etc. If a client chooses to use one of our contractors, we’ll track the job progress and follow up with them at the end of the project to get their feedback about their experience.
What are the benefits of using your service?
The top three are:
1. We only refer professional, trustworthy contractors. Their licensure, insurance and work product is verified before joining our network and tracked afterward. We meet with them to make sure their professionalism and customer service is at the level we demand and we monitor each job we refer to make sure that high level is maintained.
2. We understand that for most people, construction or repairs can be daunting and we’ll talk you through your project (literally!), the process, answer questions, lend support and be your advocate when necessary.
3. Our service is free and will ultimately save you time and money. If everyone calculated how much of their time it takes to research potential contractors, do the necessary vetting, and figure out the best practices for undertaking a construction project they’d be shocked at how much they’ve “spent.”
What kind of contractors can one find through you?
Our network has everything from electricians, plumbers and mechanical (HVAC) technicians to handymen and General Contractors who handle kitchen, bath, basement and whole home renovations and additions. We also have specialty trades like painting, waterproofing, landscaping, locksmiths, flooring, tile work, upholstery etc. Our goal is to have a referral for anything that would be classified as building construction, repair or maintenance.