Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by Web Marketing Today. Practical Ecommerce acquired Web Marketing Today in 2012. In 2016, we merged the two sites, leaving Practical Ecommerce as the successor.
Consumers can now purchase services from local vendors on-demand and pay for them online, via home service marketplaces.
Amazon recently entered this space with its “Home Services” store, but many comparable sites exist that cater to the service sector in one form or another.
How Home Service Marketplaces Work
Consumers request a particular service online through the marketplace. The site then matches them with service professionals in their local area. They only pay for the service when the provider completes the job or, in some cases, at the time of the appointment.
Most sites offer money-back guarantees and pre-screen professionals prior to adding them to the directory. Many sites contain verified customer reviews associated with each vendor’s profile and require businesses to maintain a high rating to stay active.
Sites charge providers on a per-lead generated basis, with some exceptions. Companies must apply, and meet specific criteria, to be considered for inclusion.
Advantages to Using Home Service Marketplaces
Service businesses that use marketplaces experience three advantages.
- Lead generation. Marketplaces give companies another channel in which to generate leads.
- Payment processing. The sites manage billing and payment transactions, relieving the service provider of the responsibility.
- Appointment scheduling. Because customers schedule services through the site, businesses have a central place to view their appointment calendar. Some marketplaces offer mobile apps that enable businesses to monitor their calendar while out on jobs. Some also send emails reminding customers and vendors of the appointment.
If you run a service business, here are seven marketplace sites worth considering.
Handy connects consumers looking for household services with pre-screened independent service professionals. Services include house cleaning, electrical, handyman, and plumbing.
Consumers book online and can schedule service for as early as the next day. The company guarantees service and will refund the purchaser’s money if work is deemed unsatisfactory.
MyTime is an appointment-setting platform for more than 70 services, categorized by automotive, health and beauty, home and garden, lessons, medical and dental, pets, and sports and fitness. MyTime charges the customer at the scheduled appointment time.
Businesses list their services and prices, and then synchronize their software calendars to MyTime, which allows consumers to see provider availability in real-time. The platform lets customers who have booked appointments write reviews of the business.
Redbeacon also connects service professionals with homeowners but uses a unique pricing model for vendors included in its directory. Rather than impose a per-transaction fee, the company charges points for each lead generated. A typical lead costs between 40 and 80 points.
What makes the model even more unique is that Redbeacon’s vendors can avoid charges altogether by purchasing their materials at The Home Depot. Service providers receive two points for every $1.00 spent. Redbeacon does not charge businesses for leads as long as they maintain a positive point balance.
Redbeacon’s services include plumbing, handiwork, carpentry, house cleaning, landscaping, contracting, electrical, and painting.
Serviz lets consumers book services online via desktop or mobile devices. Once an appointment is set, the service professional lets the customer know when he is en route. The company offers a money-back guarantee for unsatisfactory service.
Services include handyman, plumbing, heating and air conditioning, electrical, appliance repair, carpet cleaning, house cleaning, and mobile auto detailing.
Serviz is only available in the general Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego areas but has plans to expand to other markets.
TakeLessons connects students with private instructors from all over the country. Once accepted into the directory, instructors create a profile, choose their lesson subjects, set prices, and list availability.
Instructors can elect to teach lessons at the location of their preference — their home, studio, a public place (such as a coffee shop), via online video chat, or by traveling to the student’s location.
Students search for a TakeLessons teacher in any one of more than 400 subjects that include academic tutoring, health and wellness, music, sports and fitness, language, and visual arts.
Talklocal is a phone-based platform that sends calls to vendors from an automated system, listing prospective offers. The call describes the customer’s problem, location, and the time he would like to receive service.
Vendors connect to the prospect by pressing the number “5” on their phone keypad. Talklocal charges the service provider only if he gets connected and has a conversation with the prospect.
Services cover a range of categories, from accounting to window replacement.
Consumers apply for service through Thumbtack by answering a series of questions related to their project.
Thumbtack sends service requests to local vendors via email or text message. If interested, the provider can respond by sending a quote. Each quote includes:
- An estimate;
- Customer reviews;
- Business contact information;
- Personalized message from the vendor;
- Business profile.
Thumbtack’s service offerings are far too wide-ranging to list here but run the gamut from advertising to wedding photography.