Angie’s List Premium Listings

To be honest, the “Premium Listing” model is arguably a declining model due to:

(1) The influx of so many free listing platforms around the web; and

(2) The fact that consumers are charged an ongoing fee to search for businesses.

However, there is still one well-known player in this category – Angie’s List – that is alive and kicking.

What’s the deal?

Angie’s List is a directory of service based businesses. If you’re a service professional, you can sign up and pay an ongoing fee to be listed in this directory. In order to get access to search through this directory, clients / homeowners need to pay an ongoing fee to get access to search, review and hire these professionals.

Angie’s List touts over 3 million individuals who are “members” of its platform, and about 54,000 participating service providers (i.e., who are paying to be listed) as of the end of September 2015.

A way to think about this platform is that there are “serious” customers here looking for professionals they want to hire. You can call them serious because they are paying money to get access to businesses like yours (if you’re listed, of course). Point being – they can afford spending money, and having clients who can afford paying a lot is a good thing!

There are additional advertising products you can purchase on Angie’s List to get promoted in front of its homeowners. You can promote the “ratings grades” that customers give you towards the top of search, or you can promote your business profile in front of local homeowners on the platform.

Angie’s List’s Business Center explains at a high level their goal as a platform. In short, it’s kind of like a smaller Yelp for business and homeowners to pay to get access.

How do I set it up?

You can go Angie’s List’s business center and either claim or create your profile: http://www.angieslistbusinesscenter.com/

From there Angie’s List will send you a starter’s guide of how to subscribe and the things you can do to start promoting your business.

What are the risks?

The risk is that you pay a lot to be listed without have any clients reach out to you at all. So you’re incurring an ongoing fee but you are getting no return out of it.

At one time Angie’s List (which was founded way back in 1995 actually) was the ideal place to be listed and to find premium local professionals, but now with all the directories and search platforms out there for consumers, the amount of customer inquiries that go through Angie’s List doesn’t justify the price. The company’s reported numbers are saying the same thing – a decrease in the number of service providers on platform from a year ago.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

I would be careful jumping into the premium listings game. For the most part, clients searching for service professionals should not have to pay to be able to simply search…but Angie’s List forces this.

Now, if you offer extremely specialized services, then premium listings might be right for you. For homeowners who want specialized and high quality service, then paying a few bucks a month to give them some further assurances at times might make sense. I would simply reflect on your type of business and ask yourself if you really need a “premium service” listing, or if there are plenty of other ways for eager clients to find you.

Pay Per Transaction (“On Demand”)

The “On Demand” platforms are probably the most talked about types of models around these days (FYI, publicity isn’t always a good thing).

Some of the more talked about platforms are listed below, and they range from industry specific to broader services: Handy, TaskRabbit, Uber, Care.com, DogVacay, Amazon Home Services, and others.

For efficiency’s sake, let’s just dig into the On Demand model as a whole…

What’s the deal?

These models are all pretty much the same in terms of how they operate – a client comes in requesting a service, the platform sends the service professional (that’s you!) to perform said service, the client pays the platform, and then the platform pays the service professional for work done anywhere from 75-85% of the job.

They call it “On Demand” because of the convenience for the client. Clients want to book a service and they (for whatever reason) don’t care who comes to perform the service – they just want it done. So that’s the client’s mindset.

For you – the professional – the platform sends you these jobs directly. They tell you what to do and where to go. Then it’s up to you just to perform the service. You don’t have any real interaction with the client, and the entire scheduling and payment part of the transaction is done through the platform itself. You are advised on how to behave (almost like an employee) and you need to agree that the customer is the customer of the platform, not you.

But it’s pretty much guaranteed money (for the work you do), you don’t have to spend any time or money marketing, you only give up a fee (the platform fee) when you get paid, so no upfront costs or financial risk.

How do I set it up?

Since you’re essentially working for the platform directly, setting yourself up for these On Demand companies take a bit of time. They usually do a background check, references sometimes, even bring you in for a personal interview potentially. Each setup process is a bit different depending on the platform, but expect a bit of time to go by before you can start accepting jobs.

What are the risks?

The risk of On Demand platforms is you not being able to grow your business. You’re treated essentially as a subcontractor or employee, and are shielded from having direct access with the clients you serve. Thus you can never really build a base of a clientele from which to grow your business to a larger scale.

The platform is your boss. So long as you do a good job and the platform is large enough to attract a lot of consumer traffic, you’ll get staffed on jobs and paid. However, the pay might be 20% less than what you would normally charge clients directly (since the platform is taking a cut), and your upside is limited. There are also rules you need to abide by in order to continue working for this new boss of yours.

More detail around how entrepreneurial professionals can exist (or can’t exist) in this On Demand world can be found here.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

On Demand platforms overall are ideal for the type of professional who fits into one of the below categories:

(1) You’re just starting out. Say you’re just jumping into a new industry and would like to hone your skills or get some experience under you and even get some cash in your pocket. Taking jobs from an On Demand platform will give you the practice and feedback you need to perform a solid service. Reviews are quite common on these platforms so you’ll be able to manage and react to feedback, and you’ll be able to hopefully save some money along the way to then start your own business when the time is right.

(2) You have no desire to grow a business.  A lot of the workers for On Demand platforms have no interest in entrepreneurship or building a business. They essentially consider themselves as employees or contractors, and are perfectly fine being told where to go and what to do so long as they get their paycheck at the end of the week.

If you are, however, a professional who is an entrepreneur at heart and you’re interested in leveraging these platforms to grow, then here’s a major pro tip: start taking these customers “off platform”.

Here’s what I mean – these platforms deal with the customer directly, and simply send you (as the professional) to perform the service. You technically are not permitted to “steal” the client…that is you aren’t supposed to approach the client and say – ‘Hey, next time you need service can you just call me directly? That way, we don’t have to get the platform involved. The price and service quality is the same for you, and for me I can keep 100% of the service price.’ That is what we call going off platform.

The reality is, for many customers they are totally fine going off platform. If they like you and your service quality, then going to you directly the next time they need a service is actually preferable because they know what service quality to expect (as opposed to going to the platform and getting a new professional to help them). So long as that customer doesn’t tattle on you, then this is the ideal way for you to build a solid book of business and recurring clientele.