If you’ve been paying attention to the home services space, you’ve probably noticed that matching is gaining traction among key marketplace players as the preferred way to connect homeowners with local home service professionals. Unlike a traditional directory of business listings, a matching platform collects information about a consumer’s hiring need and presents a handful of professionals that best fit those specific parameters.
Thumbtack just raised $125 million for its matching service; Porch and Angie’s List have pivoted from a directory-centered model to a matching-based one; and my company, HomeAdvisor, continues to report significant growth on the back of the matching service it’s offered since its inception in 1998.
The reasons that the home services vertical is so readily embracing matching are clear. When variables such as trust, uncertainty, availability, and geography are at the core of decision-making — as they so often are when it comes to hiring professionals to perform home services — matching, especially when coupled with ratings and reviews, offers consumers peace of mind. It also provides an immediate connection in an often urgent and sometimes complicated time of need.
Here are four factors behind matching’s traction in the home services space:
- Homeowners aren’t always sure of what they want or need. There are a number of scenarios in which homeowners requiring the help of a home professional may not fully comprehend the scope of services they require. A homeowner who wants to remodel her bathroom, for example, will probably know that she needs to call a contractor. But she may not know how to hone her search to find a professional who will create and construct the new floor plan she desires. A matching service will ask the homeowner a series of questions to ensure she’s immediately connected with a local bathroom remodeler who specializes in exactly the kind of work she wants done.
- Homeowners put a lot on the line when hiring a professional. When it comes to hiring home service professionals, hiring the wrong people may put a homeowner’s home, finances, and security at risk. Therefore, trust and due diligence are of supreme importance. Customer reviews provide one check. Some third-party matching services, including HomeAdvisor, screen service professionals to verify they are licensed and qualified for the job, and many conduct varying levels of background checks, all of which affords homeowners additional confidence to invite professionals into their homes.
- Service professional availability is critical. A homeowner with a flooded basement requires services immediately — and the availability of a service professional to provide those services will determine whom he hires. According to recent HomeAdvisor research, four out of 10 homeowners don’t know where to turn in case of a home emergency. Matching ensures that homeowners find the right professionals to respond to their requirements. It also ensures that they connect with an available professional right away.
- In home services, it’s the location of the homeowner that matters. When it comes to home services like landscaping — in which a professional travels to a consumer — it doesn’t matter where the business is physically located; it matters how far the business is willing to travel. That “coverage area” can be ever changing, depending on job type and seasonal demand. A landscaper may be willing to drive across town for a large design/build job, for example, but it may not be worth a 15-minute drive to prune a single tree. The beauty of matching is that behind-the-scenes technology can take these dynamic service areas into account, ensuring that consumers are connected to the pros that can and will serve them wherever they are.
Adam Burrows is senior vice president of business and corporate development at HomeAdvisor. His responsibilities include general management of HomeAdvisor’s subsidiaries (mHelpDesk and CraftJack), strategic partnerships, and M&A. He also has served as a mentor for TechStars and an advisor for several other successful internet companies.