No, I’m not Angie (of Angie’s List) but I must admit that I’m asked that question a lot.
While at first glance, it may appear that my Homeowner Referral Network (HRN) business offers the same type of service as online contractor referral services such as Angie’s List (which was recently acquired by Home Advisor), the truth is that our businesses are quite different.
First and foremost, our revenue models are different. Angie’s List makes money by allowing contractors to advertise and offer promotions to their members. My HRN business earns money from commissions paid by my contractors and they only pay me when they get paid which is far more appealing to them. Contractors can’t pay me a fee to represent them. In my opinion, accepting advertising compromises the unbiased referrals I provide.
Another important distinction between my HRN business and national, online contractor referral businesses like Angie’s List is that my contractor referral business is local and personalized. I meet and screen each contractor in my network. I know his or her work because I’ve actually seen it. Beyond screening my contractors for licensing (which can vary not only by state but by county), insurance, references and more, in most cases I know their employees, family members, and even where they live. How can an online contractor referral service based in Indianapolis adequately vet contractors in 50 different states?
In addition to hand-picking my contractors, I individually match them to every job. And, beyond a contractor’s trade, there are several variables that need to be taken into consideration – time frame, contractors’ schedules, budget and personality types – to name a few.
For example, when a homeowner calls me and says they need a painter to spruce up their home for sale, I’m not going to refer them to the most expensive painter in my network who primarily works with high end decorators and architects. And when another homeowner asked me for a handyman who would take his shoes off when he worked in her home, I knew that would eliminate more than half of the contractors on my list.
And finally, after speaking with hundreds (maybe even thousands) of homeowners over the years, I have heard repeatedly that while they may go online to check out photos and get renovation and design ideas, when it comes to hiring a contractor to work in their home, they want a personal recommendation.
I guess that’s the reason why my HRN business has been so successful. I may not be Angie, but I know the value of providing well-screened, personalized contractor referrals.