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Chris Terrill Discusses ServiceMagic’s Rebranding to ‘Home Advisor’

By: 17 October 2012

A few years ago, it became apparent that IAC’s ServiceMagic had stalled. While the 1,200 person company has continued to show growth, and had expanded to several international markets, it was clearly vulnerable to new challengers, ranging from Angie’s List and Yelp to new companies, such as Repair.com and RedBeacon (now owned by Home Depot.)

Part of the problem may have been that its assortment of services didn’t reflect how people look for service information. Part of it may have been that after 12 years, it was a tired brand to those in the industry, and unknown to those outside of it.

Now the company has pushed the reset button under the leadership of Chris Terrill, who’d served executive stints at Nutrisystem, Blockbuster and Match.com. Terrill’s been on board for 18 months now, and has extensively studied what he has determined is a “half billion dollar plus opportunity.”

“It’s about more than improvements and home projects,” says Terrill. “It’s all things in the service space.” Looking at the competition, Terrill sees a lot of potential to carve out a unique role for Home Advisor. “There is no go-to, ‘Trip Advisor’-like brand in the homes space,” he notes.

Rebranding is key to much of the company’s next steps. Home Advisor, the name of Microsoft’s real estate portal, was purchased from Microsoft for “less than six figures,” says Terrill. “It was the deal of the century.” The new name does a lot more for the company than the limited idea of “service” and the generic “magic,” he notes. Terrill adds that a major branding campaign, including TV, kicks off in January.

“We didn’t want to stop at the name change,” Terrill emphasizes. “We have completely changed the user experience.” New elements include a project cost guide, which users can use to project the actual cost for projects right down to local zip codes. Another new feature is Home911, which is an emergency service app. There is also content for home remodeling. Users can research it to “get beyond aspirational,” says Terrill.

What isn’t changing very much is the business model, although Terrill says it continues to evolve. There are basically two options. Consumers will still receive several qualified paid leads when they are looking for work. Different pricing is in effect for the standard lead or leads from Home911. What won’t change is that consumers will receive services for free. The company’s surveys showed that 90 percent of consumers would never pay for service information.


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5 Comments

5 Comments »

  • Service Central said:

    At bare minimum they have done a great job with the new logo. Love it!

  • Ararat Car Service said:

    Apart from the name change, you get the feeling that the new Service Magic looks a lot more like Red Beacon with the likes of the price guides.

  • robert said:

    The problem with service magic isn’t that they were behind, it’s that people don’t like paying their ridiculously high lead fees. Their attempt to rebrand themselves is a reach to trick old customers into using them again, squeezing out another dollar from businesses that already feel cheated by the system. I am closely tied into the home renovation/repair market and have personally spoken with hundreds of providers that say their prices are just too high and they double dip by sending the same leads to others and charging them as well, clearly only one will get the job if any, but they ALL pay for that same lead. It’s outdated and this rebranding won’t help. Redbeacon, thumbtack and YerBid will lock down the market and put both servicemagic and angie’s list out of business hopefully

  • Home Improvement said:

    Good points Robert. Service Magic have been in the market for over 10 years now and seem to have never innovated around the way they sell their services, or what they charge for their services. A name change won’t help them at all unless they are also looking at changing their fee structure.

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