A name that I’ve heard come up more and more in my conversations with home service companies is Porch. Porch is a relatively new company that lets users connect and review local home service contractors and browse photos of projects. It is a free service for homeowners to find those professionals and manage projects, entirely online. It was founded back in 2012, and has since taken off, due in large part to a multi-million dollar partnership with Lowe’s nationwide.
What is Porch?
Porch is similar to a few other sites out there, but has some unique features as well. But, at the end of the day, it’s another lead gen company that has some associated costs – we’ve covered pay-per-lead companies before.
Porch combines a lot of features that you’d find on a number of different sites. You’ll find ideas and photos for home improvement similar to what Pinterest provides. You can find the history of the work done at a home, similar to the history you’d see on a real estate site, such as a Zillow profile (in fact, Porch even had a partnership with Realtor.com to provide insight into the history of a home – however, the tool never gained traction). There’s even a social function, tapping in to some of the successes of social media giants.
Perhaps Fortune put it best: “Angie’s List – featuring Pinterest-worthy photos – meets a LinkedIn intended to connect users to professional plumbers, painters, and design firms.”
How does it work?
From the consumer’s side, homeowners can first describe their project (“deck construction,” for example). They then enter a timeline from within 48 hours to within a year, then enter details as to exactly what they’re looking for. They can add a budget, and even upload relevant photos. The location of the project is then added, and then nearby contractors are alerted to the project. The homeowner can then chat directly with the individual contractors to discuss details. A pro can call, text or email the homeowner through the project page.
Porch charges contractors for the type of work that they want to do, and the zip codes they’d like to do it in. If a contractor wanted to build decks in a high-income zip code, they can advertise themselves that way. If an HVAC contractor wants to market new installs for new houses, they can set that up as well. Porch has a pricing model for each service and zip code.
One of the biggest draws to Porch is their partnership with Lowe’s. The two companies struck a deal in 2014 that would have signs and kiosks all over Lowe’s stores, and Lowe’s employees would discuss the Porch platform to consumers looking for a pro. The basic advantage for Lowe’s in this agreement was that, while they do offer some in-home services, they don’t nearly cover every home improvement project. Lowe’s wanted to provide an alternative for the services they weren’t able to offer.
It appears to be a win-win for both parties, and in some places it’s worked out quite well. However, there appear to be times where a Lowe’s store isn’t as well-versed in the Porch offering – the signage can be minimal, and the employees are not aware of what the partnership entails.
So, is it worth it?
For homeowners, there’s no reason not to check out Porch. It’s free to use, and they’ll get a number of options from different contractors. It can be a great way to approach a project, especially when they don’t have a recommended contractor to help out.
Contractors may want to approach the platform with some caution though. The advantage of the Lowe’s partnership appears to be case-by-case based on individual stores, and there have been some complaints that the leads they receive aren’t in the zip codes they paid for, or for the services they offer. But, it is still relatively new, and which means there’s some potential low-hanging fruit if your service area isn’t occupied.
Ultimately, services like Porch can mean a boost in new business, buy you always remember to track its performance. What’s the cost of the service? How much of a return are you getting? And remember, using Porch and other pay-per-lead services doesn’t do anything for the digital equity of your brand, so it may only be a short-term fix.
About The Author: Ethan is a Business Development Associate in Blue Corona's Maryland office. Outside of the office, you’ll find him golfing, at concerts, or a baseball game - if he’s not parked on the couch watching TV and movies.
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