Platforms that allow consumers to book appointments with service-based professionals (like plumbers, electricians, and mechanics) are disrupting the way local services have traditionally been scheduled — decreasing drop-off rates by quickly moving customers through the purchase funnel before they have time to change their minds.
According to a survey by BIA/Kelsey, 97% of consumers are going online to research services in their local areas. However, results from that same survey showed that only 19% of have made an online appointment with a non-restaurant business in the last six months. This points to a large opportunity for growth, and opens up the door for platforms that allow service-based businesses to tap into an underutilized channel for customer acquisition.
Here are six platforms working to change the way local, service-based businesses schedule appointments with consumers.
1. MyTime: Use dynamic pricing to boost business during off-peak times.
MyTime is a platform that essentially “sells” a merchant’s open appointments to consumers who are willing to pay in-full when making their bookings. MyTime advertises for businesses with online and mobile ads (using Google AdWords and Facebook, among other platforms), and uses a time-based pricing structure to maximize revenue for its clients during peak periods. Merchants have the option to sell their appointments with a free account, or utilize the platform’s dynamic pricing and promotional features in exchange for giving MyTime a 40% cut of any business that comes through the platform.
2. ClubLocal: Offer a concierge service to customers.
What separates ClubLocal from its competitors is that the merchants it partners with are pre-screened, having been checked for things like licensure, insurance, and financial health before being promoted to consumers on the ClubLocal site. Consumers can use the ClubLocal mobile app to book an appointment when the need arises, and the platform will send a “pre-screened” service professional out to handle the job. ClubLocal provides its merchant partners with iPads, which they can use to receive real-time job request and process mobile payment transactions. In exchange handling customer acquisition and payments, ClubLocal takes a “20 to 30 percent cut of the booking value.”
3. Booker: Book appointments on any platform.
Booker is a service management platform that provides tools for appointment scheduling on virtually any platform. Merchants in the home improvement industry are able to accept bookings through their own websites, along with their Facebook pages and mobile apps. The booking experience a merchant offers is completely customizable, allowing businesses to add custom fields and workflows to their scheduling pages. Businesses have the option to retain any contact information clients enter during the booking process, and later use that information for email marketing campaigns (which can also be created and managed within the Booker platform). Booker offers variable pricing, with a Booker Enterprise edition for businesses with multiple locations.
4. YourMechanic: Offer house calls to clients in need of car repairs.
YourMechanic is a peer-to-peer marketplace where mechanics can connect with potential customers in need of immediate car repairs. Rather than waiting until they have time to visit local auto shops, car owners can get price quotes online. They can then schedule their appointments online, and have qualified mechanics come to their homes or workplaces to make the necessary repairs. YourMechanic handles the billing for its partner mechanics. In exchange for this service, YourMechanic charges a “transaction fee by selling parts,” and says mechanics make an average of “3-4 times more than they would at an auto repair shop.”
5. Thumbtack: Use positive reviews to find new clients.
Service professionals that need a little extra help getting noticed can create profiles on Thumbtack as a way to draw attention to their services. Homeowners who need help with specific tasks (like putting up a light fixture, for example) enter their needs into the platform. Thumbtack then “introduces” those clients to professionals in their local areas, and they can schedule their appointments to meet with these professionals after comparing price quotes from competitors. Merchants can use Thumbtack to submit bids for free, however the platform charges a fee for introducing merchants to potential clients.
6. Redbeacon: Get paid immediately when services are rendered.
Purchased by Home Depot in 2012, Redbeacon is a home services marketplace where consumers can find professionals, book services, and ultimately pay for those services through their computers or smartphones. Customers enter their credit card information when scheduling appointments with the service pros of their choice, and Redbeacon releases the funds automatically 24 hours after a service is complete. Contractors and other service professionals can get referrals thanks to the platform’s integration with Home Depot (when store employees refer customers to Redbeacon), and earn “points” that they can use for buying supplies at the national retailer. Redbeacon charges professionals $29.99 per month to receive and reply to an unlimited number of jobs.
Know of other platforms service professionals can use to schedule appointments online? Leave a description in the comments.
Stephanie Miles is an associate editor at Street Fight.