Tag Archives: thumbtack

Need a Plumber? Just ask Google

Google is now on track to compete with the likes of TaskRabbit, Angie’s List, Amazon Home Services, Thumbtack, and Pro.com but what makes them different right now is that they are only launching their professional services program in the San Fransisco area. What does this mean if your a handy-man living in midwest America? You better get your website up and running professionally, get licensed and bonded by the city and plenty of insurance because those are some of the requirements that Google is mandating in order to be part of their services option ever time someone searches for any kind of professional service. You will also have to undergo a background check that Google will require all businesses to have. Oh and you will need to have at least one personal photo of someone that works for the company, right next to your company logo.

Google is only offering home services, meaning they will only connect you with plumbers, cleaners, electricians, locksmiths, and carpenters. So for all those home tutors and babysitters and home delivery services you will need to wait but Amazon already allows you to sign up so why wait for Google?

Service Industry Competition
It used to be the case that if you needed help with something at home or elsewhere you had to look up, compare reviews, and do your homework before calling someone. Now with the help of Google you will be able to do all that in one simple search like, “clogged toilet,” and Google will provide you with a list of professional plumbers you can compare and contact right away knowing that each one has already passed all of Google’s requirements to be listed.

Many of the companies that will show up in the results page are long time users of Google’s app, “AdWords Express.” They pay to be ranked near the top so people can find them faster and with a tap of the screen either call them or sign up on their website.

The fact that Google is starting in the San Fransisco area means that they are testing the market to see how things perform but more than likely they will expand to the major cities of the US next before small towns can start using the service but if you are a service provider now you can already sign up with the many other options listed at the beginning of this article. Amazon is the number one online company that everyone buys from so if you sign up with them and offer painting lessons then anytime somebody searches for painting lessons then they will be able to sign up with your program. The same thing is done on Thumbtack and TaskRabbit, which all use a bidding system in order to provide reasonable prices. The thing to do right now is set up your company on these platforms so you can be the first one in to gain the most attention, or as the business term goes, “First-Mover Advantage.”

Anyone who offers a service but doesn’t have the means of building a website or physical company can now sign up on all the services in order to maximize their potential reach. The idea here is that people who hold very special skills can now put them online with Amazon or Thumbtack and find people interested in their services. The competition for providers is growing and with that a number of other companies that are looking to cash in on the action. Take for example TalkLocal, they are a company that connects people with service providers in their area. It is interesting to think that companies like this are around today since most people can just get online and find one on their own but TalkLocal creates a list of pre-approved companies that meet certain industry guidelines in order to make sure that all their customers get the professional service they deserve. Hence, no one wants to hire a con-man with a flashy website.

Google plans to cut out companies like that because people won’t need to sign up for services  which act as a middleman because now people will simply be connected to companies that already qualify. The landscape for professional services is growing by leaps and bounds but the two companies that will have the most force will be Google and Amazon so like I said before if you offer a service on your website, that is all fine and dandy but if you want any kind of sway in your local market you will need to be listed on these two giants if you want to gain more attention. Just be ready to handle the influx of more work coming your way.

List of Professional Service Aggregators

Amazon Home Services
You will need to register your company with Amazon and include banking information so people can just pay through Amazon.

All TaskRabbit employees must sign up and go through a background check in order to qualify for jobs. You must all use the app regularly in order to get jobs that match your skills. The company also favors jobs to employees who respond within a certain time frame.

Angie’s List
One of the more popular services that you pay for. Any company has to pay to be listed and the better the reviews the more work you get. The trade off is that the market will correct for companies that offer top quality service.

They were posed to be Amazon of professional services until Amazon caught hold. You can perform simple searches for “math tutor,” “plumber,” and lots more and find people in the area who can bid or see pricing guides.

Find professional home services to help fix up your home at affordable market rates. You will find people who are professional and licensed when searching on this website, from carpet installers to countertops and more.

Another website that offers professional home services by finding independent contractors in your area who offer home services. This is a great way to find any kind of home service and connect with local companies.

Add to another long list of websites that offer professional home services that conduct background checks of all service providers.

I list Yelp here because you still need to do your homework on companies regardless of what website they are signed up with. You need to make sure that they are operating at the professional level they are supposed to be.

Freelance your Services
The huge benefit to online services like this is that as a Freelancer you can list your services on each website and find people who want your services. Millions of searches are performed for home tutors, cleaners, car repairmen but there are also other areas that get searched but not enough to fill the gaps. If you are creative enough you will find people in need of your help.

For example, the website, Your Man in India, is a perfect example of a company that offers professional services for individuals. Those services can range from paying your credit card bills to ordering take out and lots more. Why not offer to do those same services that they offer here it the US? A.J. Jacobs talked about how he was able to outsource his entire like in his book, My Life as an Experiment, and in many cases had the company he hired even read bed time stories to his kids and talk to his parents and wife when he didn’t want to.

LegalZoom is another sort of company that piece meals legal services and makes it affordable by hiring out as needed. If you are a lawyer why not sign up for Amazon Home Services? I’m sure people would love to be able to find an affordable lawyer. Any one of these websites is an example of freelance work. Axiom and HourlyNerd both take top talented individuals in the legal and business field and connect them to work with companies on a per-project basis. The nice perk from working with such companies are the benefits but the hardship of working for such companies is the unstable employment.

If you plan to go with these services you must be prepared for the ups and downs of the work itself. You will not be able to get ever job that comes up and you might always be underbidded by other competitors. That is the challenge of working in the freelance economy so if you plan to sign up with any one of these services you will need to have a backup plan for when work gets slow.

If you are a professional and want to be listed one of the sites listed, just click on their sign up option and read up more about what the process is all about. If still unsure search on YouTube to find out more about each website and get people’s reactions. If you want to get a head start in your area then sign up for Adwords Express and start getting listed in your area.

Google begins advertising home services in search results

Google Follows Amazon Into Home Services

Google Plunges Into Home Services Market

Here is how Small Businesses compete against the Big Guys

Imagine you are a small cafe owner and you want to be able to bring in the same kind of traffic that Starbucks gets but you just started, how do you go about doing that? The same can be said if you are a plumber or a independent fitness instructor? How do you go about getting your name out there so that people will come to you?

This is something that many small mom-and-pop shops have been dealing with a for a long time. If you lived in the anytime before the internet, the only way to get your name out there was to advertising on billboards, in the yellowpages, radio/TV (if you could afford it) and by passing out flyers by hand. Some businesses still do that today but the internet has changed things, sometimes for the better, but it has created a lot more competition for first time entrepreneurs.

Here are a few ways to start competing with the big boys
If you are an independent Coffee shop then getting on the band wagon with the app Cups will get you some business. Customers can sign up for a subscription to the service where they can go to any independently owned coffee house in the network and get unlimited coffee. The app pays the coffee shops a percentage for signing up to use the service. This allows anyone who uses the app to attend more local coffee houses instead of the bigger chains. Not bad for an unlimited cup of coffee. Subscription rates start at $7 and go up to $85. (Apple, Android)

Many small companies have trouble managing their accounts, some use small business software like quicken to keep track of stuff for them but what about printing receipts for a customer or accepting credit cards? If you are tech savvy and know where to go to set everything up it can take a bit of time but it’s possible but why go through all that trouble when you can let the app, ShopKeep, do it all for you. They take away the responsibility of needing a server so if your business has a fire or flooding nothing will get lost because ShopKeep manages everything on their own. The convenience behind this idea is that it lets you focus on just running your business and you can do it all from an iPad. (Apple)

Independent bookstores will be happy to see that there is a way to compete against Amazon using a service called Edelweiss. It lets librarians, bloggers, reviewers, rights acquirers, bookshop owners, and probably lots more interact with their database to find what they are looking for. It also lets them connect with publishers directly thereby  taking out any middlemen there might be. This service can be very helpful to those looking to create a special collection of books for a specific audience in your neighborhood store. (Sign up here)

Any small business will be happy to know about this service when it comes to advertising what their company does in a style that matches what people expect from a professional company. They want style, elegance and feel when watching a promotional video instead of an armature thrown together look. That is where the company, Shakr, comes in and changes all that and makes it easy for you to create your own professional looking video in just a few minutes. They have cultivated the minds of industry professionals who work in advertising and marketing and take apart the pieces of what makes their work stand out and created a place that utilizes their skills in a unique way that anyone with a computer can access.

Creating Legal documents on your own can be a challenge but not difficult. Some small businesses have created one page contracts using just Word with simple to follow rules. Any contract that both parties sign and agree to is a legally binding contract. The only difference is that contracts created by lawyers have been thoroughly researched to include years of experience about what should be included in certain types of contracts. Now there is an app you can carry with you on your smartphone that includes tons of contracts for all kinds of situations. The nice thing is that once you filled out the form and both parties have signed you can email a copy to the other person. Shake is the name of the program that allows to you to reduce the costs of hiring a lawyer every time you need a contract (but it does not act as a replacement, every contract can be changed and edited before both parties sign and all contracts provided are just standard forms and do not include anything the other party might want to include which you have to be willing to agree to before signing). (Apple)
To learn more about Shake read here.

If you ever needed a site that lets you advertise your services but also find work in the mealtime? Thumbtack has changed how service companies find work. It used to be that if someone needed a plumber they would just go to the yellowpages and called each one to get different prices. That took time and energy to find the cheapest one. Now with Thumbtack all someone has to do is type in the service they need and a zip code and then fill out a questionnaire that explains what they are looking for. After they submit the form local companies in the area can then bid on the project allowing the person to find the cheapest deal or the deal with the best quality. Service businesses of all types can sign up to use the service to help grow their company. Anyone can also sign up and use the website regularly to find what they are looking for. A great way of connecting people with local businesses but also perfect for small businesses just starting out.
You can read more about how Thumbtack got started and why its a game changer.

Additional Apps that offer great service
Mint – Finance app that lets you manage both your personal and small business reports. (Apple, Android)

Quip – App that lets you manage documents and tasks across different people. (Apple, Android)

Asana – App that allows for collaboration between work groups but also personal projects such as family events and friends. It is also able to connect with many popular apps as well for improved performance. (Apple, Android)

Expensify – Help keep track of all your business expenses with this app. It lets you track mileage, scan and upload receipts and even categorize and submit receipts. (Apple, Android)

Whether you are just starting out or looking to reduce the costs of your business or just want to get more business these services are helping small businesses compete against the bigger guys by providing new ways of doing business. If any of these services help please provide a comment about how.

News Article

Modern Tools for Mom-and-Pops