ILM:10: In SMB Verification We Trust

Panelists on the Home and Trade Revolution panel this afternoon echoed the sentiments BIA/Kelsey CEO Neal Polachek expressed during his opening presentation yesterday about the importance of trust. Increasingly, this level of trust is achieved through the process of service provider or SMB verification. In other words, the small business is what it says it is.

Start-up SeniorChecked.com, run by former AOL executive Chris Spanos, is in the business of matching qualified and verified service providers to seniors and their caregivers. As 58 percent of senior-related fraud is committed by service providers, SeniorChecked makes businesses that want to be included in its directory go through a process of background checks and verification as well as annual re-verification. The cost to be a member of SeniorChecked, which currently covers 24 vertical categories targeted at senior-related services, is $699 a year. Spanos expects between 2 percent and 5 percent of businesses that apply to its site to be denied.

Likewise, Charlie Anderson of FindCo talked about the issue of SMBs not knowing whom to trust for their local advertising options. Currently serving a market of 10,000 businesses through its SMB OnRamp product, FindCo provides a variety of products and services ranging from identity management to lead generation and tracking to mobile offerings and the like.

We also heard from Ethan Anderson, CEO of Redbeacon, who like the other panelists referred to the trust element and noted that it is core to its business. Ethan compared a consumer seeking a service provider to the game show “Let’s Make a Deal.” Redbeacon, which matches consumers’ requests to service providers, said that ratings and reviews are fine, but consumers want a price element, availability of the service provider when they want the service performed, qualifications of the provider, background checks/verification and, importantly, using a social network angle (i.e., who their family and friends recommend). Redbeacon is approaching 10,000 businesses in its select markets and reports that almost 100 percent of its consumer requests receive quotes and receive an average of 5 quotes per request.

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