I swear to God a day does not go by without someone, usually an agent, asking for the name of a good handyman. I wrote about this on CultureMap, I’m writing about it here. Listen up agents, this is a venture you’ve got to pay close attention to. And we’re inviting you to a party NEXT WEEK, TUESDAY AFTERNOON where you can win a $50 gift card to ClubLocal.com and we’ll feed you!
Here’s a conversation I had recently:
Candy: “So, Emmanuel, you came and painted a bit, nice, but where are you today?”
Emmanuel: “Oh, me truck, it no start.”
Candy: “OK, sorry to hear but I really need to finish the painting I have a party here Saturday.”
Emmanuel: “OK, I be there tomorrow.”
Yes, except, tomorrow is my party. I just had new skylights put in and it wasn’t the roofer, but the company that took frigging forever. I started the replacement process in JUNE!
And don’t get me started on roofers! I finally had to put a sign in my front yard with a pirate’s sign warning them to stay away. How many blog posts have been interrupted by door to door roofers?
So when I met Cynthia Neiman I was intrigued. She works for a company that will, she says, change my life, every homeowner’s life, every Realtor’s life. It’s a start-up company called ClubLocal.com. It’s a division of a huge publicly traded company called ReachLocal, which offers digital marketing platforms to small businesses and is based in LA. Well, ClubLocal.com is a new division that is piloting in North Texas (because we are a great test market, a bellwether, in part because of our affordable housing market). As ReachLocal.com pools small businesses to provide affordable digital marketing, ClubLocal.com will do the same for the home service industry. What this means to us as Realtors with perpetually breaking homes: a reliable network of home repair providers — this is starting to sound like doctors — creating a huge web-based network from which consumers can call and QUICKLY find one of 17 servicers in plumbing, heating & air, electrical, handyman, carpet cleaning, pest control, home inspection, house cleaning, appliance repair, window cleaning, garage door, pool & spa repair, locksmith, duct/dryer vent cleaning, damage restoration, pressure washing, gutter cleaning & repair. Dang it, no carpenters yet. All the providers will have been vetted, are licensed and insured with real background checks, so you don’t have to keep the butcher knife in your purse.
(Have you done that with creepy home repair guys? I have.)
Sounds good, and in fact you can make all the appointments on the computer, iPad or iPhone ap, which I love. In fact, you can book instantly online or call, and the technician/handyman will be at your house in a TWO HOUR time window that YOU choose.
So I asked Cynthia when I met her: isn’t this like an Angie’s List?
We’re better, she told me: it’s free to the consumer, no fee to join like Angie’s list and…
“And you don’t have to do all the searching ” she says. “ClubLocal sends you a pre-screened Service Pro during a 2 hour appointment window that you pick (no more waiting around all day) and you can track your ClubLocal Service Pro in real time on your computer or iPhone.”
ClubLocal.com also has a satisfaction guarantee; things don’t go right with your Angie’s List guys, your only recourse is a bad review. And here is the piece de resistance: prices are 20% below the market prices on average.
Let me tell you, I know these sub contractors come into a neighborhood with a bunch of million dollar homes and tack on an extra 20%. We lived in a pre-tear down while we built our home, and the repair guys were way cheaper there on Brookview than when I lived on Park Lane in the Money Pit. Then we moved to our new home, and whamo, up went every single bid.
Cynthia Nieman has some Dallas ties. Have you figured it out? She is distantly related to the Neiman-Marcus family…. recall that Carrie Marcus married a Nieman. An LA native, she was in the marketing department of Mattel prior to joining ClubLocal.com where she is marketing the product. She wants to bring trust and web organization to home services, she says.
“We want to generate a great service experience,” she says.
Which is when I drop my fingernail file. With handymen? OK, you go girl. Also, I ask, how much do you really check out these guys.
Oh an application is not a given, says Cynthia. 10 to 15% are rejected during the vetting process. Club Local is all about customer service, because of course there is the transparency of the experience. We know we cannot hide anything in 2012, even affairs. A few bad online reputation raps won’t cut it.
This sounds great for the consumer, but what about the handyman giving up 20% of his fee?
They love it. ClubLocal.com basically handles their marketing; they will never have to troll for clients again, and it will likely increase business volume. Like one local repair business told the Dallas Morning News (paywall):
“Anybody who’s in business and deals with the public knows everything is going to the internet.”
“The best service pros want to work with us and are willing to give us a percentage of the transaction,” says Cynthia. “We bring customers to them without them having to become marketing mavens while they run their plumbing business.”
Something tell me ClubLocal.com may also be promoting what I call House Couth. I steal blue booties from Labor&Delivery and keep a stash in a drawer by the front door for workmen. Why do I want filthy workboots tramped all through my clean house? The booties are for workers who won’t or cannot remove their shoes.
Well, guess what: Clublocal.com is working on booties that every workman will carry and wear.