A sea change in home repair habits is occurring, as consumer segments begin to shift from Do It Yourself to Do it For Me models where people are seeking professionals to do everything from changing light bulbs to building decks. As Home Depot Silicon Valley head Anthony Roddio noted at our ILM 2014 event in December, “The market is ripe but no one is there yet.”
To date, Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor (formerly ServiceMagic) have been the ones to beat in the home repair online marketplace. But relative newcomers such as Home Depot (Red Beacon), Pro.com, Handy, HomeJoy, Serviz and Thumbtack are also revving it up. Looming in the background are skunkworks from giant “directory” players such as Amazon.
Home Advisor and Serviz have recently talked to us about their respective approaches. In fact, HomeAdvisor has just formally announced its entry into on demand scheduling for contractors; a new model that will complement its traditional model of providing several referrals in which consumers have to pick and choose, schedule and call themselves.
To HomeAdvisor CEO Chris Terrill, the demand for scheduling vetted professionals at pre-set prices is something that may develop over a period of time. It won’t cause a sudden change in business models. But it will serve two key functions: attracting new customers outside of the company’s traditional 35-60 year old customer set; and begin the process of repositioning the company as a comprehensive provider of information and services for home repair.
“We are building a robust marketplace,” he says. “We have tools that work for pros. If pros want to pay the company to book services for them, fine. If they want to pay for advertising, fine.”
Terrill notes that On Demand scheduling has been in a test mode in several cities. It will now be rolled out nationwide, but won’t receive dedicated marketing - at least, at first. It will mostly remain under the radar in pilot/learn model for three or four months. “We’ll expose people to it as they come in,” he says.
He also expresses confidence that the company’s ability to scale scheduled services will prove to be its ace in the hole. As a longtime leader in the space, HomeAdvisor has the most robust cost guide with real prices for each geo market, he said . It is not survey data. We do it at scale. A lot of people are introducing similar services, but they are not very satisfactory because they can’t meet the demands in each market, he says.
Serviz CEO Zorik Gordon – who formerly served as CEO of ReachLocal — notes that his focus is entirely on creative on demand home services, rather than a marketplace.Serviz, which has 20 plus employees at headquarters, in addition to about 100 technicians, has recently raised a $12.5 Million Series B equity financing round led by PointGuard Ventures. With the money, Serviz will expand beyond its five core categories. More critically, it will also expand its operations beyond its home base of the Los Angeles and Orange County markets.
The key to its success will be to provide super-efficient, mobile-based services that allow booking and buying to be completed in 30 seconds, says Gordon. Another key: focus on the transparency of pricing, enabling independents to lower their pricing for high-end services in return for more business. Under the Serviz model, Gordon claims that all prices are “substantially lower” than existing home service companies.
“We are taking an Amazon-like approach of being a real price disruptor,” says Gordon. “We are building a horizontal platform around higher end home services such as HVAC and electrical work.”