SEATTLE - Porch.com, an online platform for finding home improvement professionals, expanded its professional remodeler finder in an effort to help these service providers grow their businesses.
The move reflects the increasingly competitive nature of these remodeling finder apps, which include powerhouses such as Home Advisor and Angie's List, and Red Beacon, a pro-finder acquired by Home Depot for $1 billion in 2014. Angie's List, which had been charging consumers a registration fee to use its professional finders, shifted strategies in July, allowing homeowners to use its locator for kitchen remodelers, plumbing and other services for free - though certain levels of services still require a fee.
“Professionals are core partners in building Porch with us. For the past two years, we’ve been working on increasing the amount of qualified service requests that come through Porch," says Chief Customer Officer, Matthew Neagle. "With the quality and value of these requests at an all-time high, we want to reward our professionals by helping them grow their business."
The pro-finder operators need enough professionals to attract consumers. Porch.com, a venture capital start-up that has a partnership with Lowe's putting it into 1,720 Lowe's stores, also launched Porch Perks, a loyalty program that it says provides exclusive business and entertainment discounts for Porch Guaranteed professionals.
Porch.com says its new features make it simpler for home service professionals to connect to homeowners and to integrate the systems into their own business operations. This includes:
- Enterprise Direct Connect: This allows larger companies to integrate into its project marketplace and have requests flow directly into their CRM (customer relationship management) systems. Porch had already launched this Direct Connect for hundreds of locations like Lowe's.
- “Pay As You Go” was launched letting remodelers and other professionals with a credit card on file to browse a list of homeowner who are seeking bids for projects. projects locally or in targeted areas. Porch says this let's pros test its project marketplace or for filling an occasional hole in a professional’s schedule.
- Automating project bid search: instead of browsing projects, professionals can set criteria based on type of work and a monthly budget. Projects that meet the criteria will automatically be "reserved" and delivered to the pro each month.
"Over the past year, project request volume on Porch from homeowners has exploded so now is the right time to accelerate the connection with all types of quality professionals,” says CEO Matt Ehrlichman. So the company needs more professionals to provide the services.
The services also include Porch.com,'s Porch Guarantee, a free program for homeowners that guarantees a quality experience with Porch professionals, with guaranteed professionals who have passed a 30-point pre-screening and background check, Angie's List launched a similar system last year.
Also launched is Porch Perks, to attract and reward professional service providers. Porch.com says it provides dozens of business discounts and hundreds of local deals to help them operate and grow their business.
"Access to discounts for home products, legal services, payment processing benefits, or food for their crew are just a few examples of how Porch will give time back to professionals so they can continue to focus on doing the work they love,” said Neagle. Porch has already tested the perks program with Lowe's.
“Lowe’s partnership with Porch continues to demonstrate our commitment to helping customers find solutions to their home improvement needs,” said Jay Rebello, Lowe’s vice president of new and emerging business. “Participating in the Porch Perks program is a great way to extend that commitment to our ProServices customers and provide exclusive offers and discounts from LowesForPros.com on the products and tools Porch’s Guaranteed Professionals need every day.”
In the perks program are furniture retailer Wayfair Pro; Weebly, a website builder; and Intuit accounting software. “We’re on a mission to change the financial lives of self-employed people, such as the professional contractors who work with Porch,” says Liz Baker, Senior Business Development Manager at Intuit, which is offering QuickBooks Self-Employed as part of Porch Perks. Media partners for the perks program include Taunton Publishing and Hanley Wood.
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