You may have heard their advert on the radio, seen vans on the road or heard about them through the grapevine, but it is very rare that anybody knows the story behind Checkatrade or indeed, the man who turned a bedroom thought into a household brand.

The Story of Checkatrade

On 8th January 1998 a freak tornado reaped havoc on Kevin Byrne’s home town of Selsey in Sussex causing £10m worth of damage to over 1,000 houses. Kevin witnessed the destruction first-hand and watched as immoral rogue traders flocked to the town, taking advantage of the community’s vulnerable position.

This was when the urge struck Kevin to help protect the public from tradespeople that are not what they seem. He wanted to create a database of credible tradespeople that members of the public can obtain easily. At this point he established a printed directory called Scout which included local tradespeople that had been vetted with proof of qualifications and references from previous customers, with the intention of filtering out the unreliable tradespeople. The directory was distributed to towns that surrounded Selsey for three years until the advancements of the internet came into play.

The growth in internet popularity allowed Kevin to expand his business to a wider audience, creating an endless database that is not limited by printing and distribution costs. Scout moved into the modern age and was renamed, which now boasts over23,000 (a number which continues to grow) tradespeople whom have all been thoroughly interviewed with background checks. The site provides a simple and free way to access tradespeople’s contacts from all over the UK and is reviewed regularly using customer’s feedback.

Kevin’s ambition to protect the vulnerable only grew. He was adamant that he wanted to create a platform for his business that could be used by people of all ages. He understood that the elderly are amongst those in the community who fall victim to rogue traders, but may not own a computer or know how to use the internet. With this in mind over 16.6 million Checkatrade directories are printed and distributed around the country each year.

Being the first of its kind and with an innovative concept Checkatrade has become a nationally recognised website which allows users to personally select tradespeople based on their location, experience and previous work reviews.

Working in partnership with nine trading standards Checkatrade carry out a number of thorough checks on each individual before they are officially published on the site. The process includes an initial interview, ID verification, address verification, qualifications, government accreditations, customer references, a credit check and public liability insurance check.

Kevin Byrne, founder of Checkatrade explained a little more about the company’s trading standards:

“The rogue traders that swamped my hometown after the terrifying tornado carried out below-par repair work charging extortionate prices because they knew everyone would pay – they were desperate! So when I first started Checkatrade I was adamant that I would be very strict with the vetting system I carry out on each individual which is why they are all interviewed face to face, vetted with 18 considerations as well as 14 actual checks. I am proud to say that this level of trust, and reliability subsequently results in only one complaint in every 200 jobs for poor workmanship (the national average is one in every five jobs).

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