As the popularity of Uber, the transportation app that connects private drivers with passengers, continues to grow, the on-demand economy is expanding into other industries. Having already tackled transportation, beauty, and healthcare, hyperlocal vendors are now looking for ways to adapt on-demand marketplaces for the home services industry.
By going beyond basic business listings and customer reviews, and allowing consumers to actually schedule and pay for their home service providers online, hyperlocal vendors are closing the loop and converting more online prospects into paying customers. Here are six examples of hyperlocal marketplaces that consumers can use to research, reserve, and even pay for home service professionals.
1. Handybook: Cut down on the steps it takes to confirm new appointments.
Handybook is all about simplifying the process of finding, booking, and paying home service professionals. Consumers can search for pre-screened plumbers, handymen, and house cleaners in their cities, and they can solicit quotes based on a set of standard hourly rates. Providers in Handybook’s network go through background checks, reference checks, and interviews. Bookings, confirmations, and payments are all made within the Handybook platform. Instant bookings, in particular, cut down on the back-and-forth negotiation process that can slow down business for home service professionals. Handybook “takes a cut” of the revenue its providers generate.
2. MyTime: Sell open appointment times to customers.
MyTime has found a way to prevent home service professionals from having wild swings in their schedules. Providers can list the specific appointment slots they have available — typically during the slowest times of the day, or days of the week — and then “sell” those slots to consumers in need of their services. Professionals can list and sell their non-promoted services for full price, or they can set promotional rates to further drive business during off-peak times. MyTime charges a 3% commission on non-promoted services, and keeps 2/5 of the revenue for promoted bookings.
3. ClubLocal: Offer negotiated discounts to online consumers.
Often referred to as a “concierge” service for consumers, ReachLocal makes it possible for home service professionals to accept bookings online, through an iPhone app, or by phone. Consumers who book services through the ClubLocal platform don’t know which company they’ve hired for a job when making their bookings. However, they feel confident in the professionals they’re hiring thanks to the company’s licensing requirements and background checks. ClubLocal doesn’t charge merchant anything upfront, however the platform takes a 20% to 30% cut of the value of each booking.
4. RedBeacon: Interact with potential customers on your own timetable.
RedBeacon differentiates itself from competing marketplaces by providing consumers with a platform to engage with service professionals in their areas. Consumers can ask questions before they request a service, and they can get custom quotes from qualified professionals. Rather than advertising a flat rate for certain services, merchants can adjust their prices based on the specifics of the job at hand. Once a customer makes his selection, the merchant calls to schedule the appointment over the phone. Payments are made through RedBeacon once the job is complete. RedBeacon charges a $29.99 monthly subscription fee.
5. Thumbtack: Find recurring clients through an online marketplace.
Thumbtack is a services-only marketplace where consumers can solicit quotes from home improvement professionals. After getting multiple quotes, a user can compare prices, read reviews, and hire the professional who seems best suited for the job. Thumbtack leaves room for providers to explain their pricing quotes, and encourages users to ask follow up questions for clarification before making any bookings. Although providers can submit bids on Thumbtack for free, the vendor charges a “fee” to merchants for “introduction to new clients.”
6. Kudzu: Choose a service professional based on customer feedback.
Rather than selecting a service professional based on his pricing or availability, Kudzu encourages consumers to take reviews into account. Consumers can search for listings close to their home or office, and they can narrow down the listings based on the type of job or service they’re looking for. Professionals in the home improvement industry can add their listings to Kudzu and post coupons as an incentive to get consumers to book with them. They can also use featured listings and sponsored links to boost visibility on the platform. Kudzu offers free basic profiles for home improvement professionals.
Know of other hyperlocal marketplaces geared toward home service professionals? Leave a description in the comments.
Stephanie Miles is an associate editor at Street Fight.