No one likes a rogue trader: not clients, who have to suffer the effects of poor work and services, and not the vast majority of honest and scrupulous tradesmen, who have to see the rare rotten apples among them create negative effects for everyone.

It is to tackle this problem that a new company has been set up in Sunderland, aimed at weeding out the rogue traders in the North East of England through an ingenious online and print trade referral system.

Checked and Vetted was set up by businesswomen, Millie Warham and Christine York in 2011 and has grown rapidly in less than two years to employ a staff of 18. The company carries out a number of rigorous tests on businesses and tradespeople who are recommended to them by people who have used and been very satisfied with their services. The listed professionals have their own online profiles where verified report cards from their customers are posted.

Millie explained, “It also helps to raise standards in the region, and we’re working closely with trading standards officers because we’re determined to defeat rogue traders and boost good local businesses through Checked and Vetted.”

The system is setting up great rewards for the recommended workmen and women on the list, with one member revealing that his last six jobs had been as a result of his profile on Checked and Vetted.

The listing represents skilled, qualified and experiences professionals in all sectors of construction and domestic work, including joinery, plumbing, roofing, painting and decorating, plastering and electrical services. The company is also generating success from the fact that Millie and Christine know who they are seeking to appeal to and structuring the company accordingly. Around a quarter of homes in the North East do not yet have internet connections – a fact that Millie and Christine took into consideration when they decided to make sure their listings were available in a printed format, as well as online.

Christine stated, “That’s why we print the Vetted Tradesmen guides and run our Sunderland based call centre to give everyone access to locally based, vetted tradespeople. This year, we are on schedule to distribute more than four million guides.”

The company has been hailed by local representatives as a model for local enterprise and an example of what a little business innovation can achieve. The leader of Sunderland Council, Paul Watson, said, “This is a great example of an ingenious, enterprising idea in action. Millie and Christine are not only building a successful business but carrying out a valuable service for people across Sunderland and the North East through Checked and Vetted.”