It was midnight and she was still at the office, her husband was out of town on business, a sitter was watching the kids and it had been snowing for days. The three snow removal companies she called earlier never called back - she would have to wake up before 5 a.m. to shovel before the kids wake up and avoid yet another round of death stares from the neighbors for not keeping the sidewalk clean. She also had not done anything to prepare for her 6-year-old’s birthday party in three days and really needed to find a psychologist to help her overcome her conjunctivitis phobia—seriously, she was deathly afraid of pink eye.
And at the exact moment she was online blearily trying to find solutions to these problems, somewhere overseas someone was being paid to pretend to be “Maggie W. from Lincoln Park” and write reviews of Chicago businesses.
This tale reflects only a small collection of the dozens of experiences that led to the creation of Plumwise. Our co-founders are women with busy professional lives and even busier families. They were looking for a way to bring a level of trust to the recommendation space that did not and does not exist on other review sites.
Plumwise achieves that level of trust in two ways. First, Plumwise is available only to members. It is not a crowd-sourced review site. And while we all love our friends, family and social networks, the truth of the matter is that most of our friends and family don’t live in our particular neighborhood, or have different needs, means or resources.
People can join in two ways: be recommended by a current member or fill out an on-line application. So we start with a circle of trust where members recommend only the service providers they love. Mediocrity is not an option.
The second level of trust comes in the vetting of the recommendations. After a member recommends a provider, Plumwise takes the extra steps to vet those providers to ensure only the best-of-the-best providers are listed. Plumwise reviews all public information and reviews about the provider including the Better Business Bureau to make sure there are no “red flags” out there. Plumwise also calls each recommended provider to ensure accurate listing and that the provider is indeed taking on new customers, patients, etc. Nothing is more annoying to us than getting a recommendation for the BEST allergist, for example, and finding out that we can’t get an appointment for 8 months.
One of the coolest features of Plumwise is that members can anonymously ask the community for any service they can’t find on the site. Let’s face it, sometimes we have really specific needs or we need a service that we are not exactly excited about asking co-workers or friends about. Imagine you need a caterer for a small dinner party to handle 3 very different food allergies, or a therapist for your teenager, or the best place to get just one or two (gasp!) Botox injections.
Plumwise asks the community for a recommendation on behalf of that member, does the research our members would do if they had the time, and then sends the member personalized results.
Plumwise launched its beta site in September of last year. Since that time, we learned a lot, made a few tweaks, and are excited to announce the launch of a new version of our site this week!
Check us out at www.plumwise.com. Once accepted, members get access to our full range of services, free of charge.