Tired of paying to see reviews? Looking for an alternative to Angie’s List? You’re not alone. As the new kid on the online home improvement block, we are often asked “How are you different from Angie’s List” or “So, you’re just like Angie’s List, right?”. ServiceWhale and Angie’s List both help homeowners and contractors connect online; however, the similarities stop there.
Angie’s List built its business by creating a place online where homeowners can access unbiased contractor reviews from their peers. In order for homeowners to read the reviews, they must first become a paid member of the AL network. In the early 2000’s, when online reviews were still in their infancy, this was a great model. As the popularity of online reviews grew, they became an important part of making decisions regarding companies and products. The major shift in consumer behavior coupled with tons of free review sites like Yelp, forced Angie’s List to reduce their membership fees from around $10/month to about $10/year and as of July 6, 2016, Angie’s List operates as a completely free service.
The SW Difference
ServiceWhale is 100% free for homeowners to join, review contractor profiles, and read reviews from previous customers. We pull reviews in from around the internet, not just from ServiceWhale customers, in order to reduce the amount of time you, the homeowner, needs to spend conducting research.
“The Big Deal”
For Angie’s List members who are a bit further along in the buying process, they can book their service online at a fixed price via “The Big Deal” (TBD). Offers found on TBD range from small projects such as painting a single room for around $200 to larger services like entire heating and cooling system replacements for $8,000 or more.
On the surface, this seems to be an extremely valuable offering for both the homeowner and the contractor – the homeowner finds a set price for the project they want, and the contractor gets to automate the entire sales process and get a new customer with minimal effort. However, when digging deeper, there appear to be a few flaws with this system. The two most obvious potential pitfalls are:
While it is definitely true that certain information needs to be collected to generate a quote remotely, there are no cookie-cutter home improvement projects – one size does not fit all. For example, when it comes to replacing an HVAC system, knowing the size of the home and where the furnace and condenser are located are just two of the questions that absolutely must be answered in order to ensure that the price of the project is accurate. Angie’s List customers purchasing more complex projects via The Big Deal could wind up in a world of headache if they buy a central air conditioner that doesn’t fit their home or a roof that is too small. Mainly because…
Upfront payment is required
It’s true! If you want to buy a project on TBD it requires you to supply your credit card information and pay for the entire project upfront. This model can be a recipe for disaster and lead to a negative experience on both sides. For homeowners, there is zero chance to negotiate (just because it’s called a “deal” doesn’t necessarily make it true) or work out payment terms that allow the homeowner to put down a deposit before the job begins and pay the remainder once it’s completed, or another similar arrangement.
The SW Difference
Homeowners can get custom quotes on big-ticket home services on ServiceWhale, instantly and without the need for onsite visits, from all of the contractors serving their zip code. Our patent-pending quoting technology solves many of the issues inherent in Angie’s List’s “The Big Deal”. To ensure an accurate quote, homeowners answer a few simple questions about their project and needs. Since there are multiple quotes to choose from, homeowners can attempt to negotiate a great deal online. Once a homeowner is ready to book their project, all they need to do is provide some basic contact info and press “Order” – no payment required. Homeowners pay contractors directly and are free to work out any payment terms that fit their needs.
Side note: We also offer low, fixed rate financing for any project over $1,000
A relatively new feature for Angie’s List, designed primarily to benefit (and profit) from their contractor network, is lead generation. Similar to many other big players in the online home improvement world, AL collects some general information about the project at hand along with the homeowner’s contact information and then sells that information to several local contractors.
This basic form of collecting / selling leads, while “tried and true” (for the time being), doesn’t offer as much value as it appears. For starters, if a homeowner is really interested in finding a few contractors to speak with, they could just browse one of the many directories for the type of professional they are looking for in their area – either on Angie’s List or on another website. Furthermore, the homeowner doesn’t have any say in who receives their contact information. As far as anyone can tell, the whole point of Angie’s List is to find reputable contractors based on information from previous member customers. In this model, the opposite is true; Angie’s List is picking the contractor based on their willingness to pay for a lead. Just because a contractor is willing to buy your information doesn’t necessarily make them the right contractor for you.
The SW Difference
ServiceWhale never sells a homeowner’s contact information. Proactive homeowners can opt to send their contact information, messages or photos to contractors of their choice. Conversely, contractors can send messages and request specific contact information from homeowners, but it will be the homeowner that ultimately decides whether or not they want to release their personal information to that contractor.
The world is changing, and the expectations of consumers are unquestionably changing with it. As consumers, we expect instant prices and a risk free shopping experience for our online purchases. ServiceWhale’s instant quoting technology, risk free booking process, and our fresh take on buying and selling home improvement projects provides the perfect solution for homeowners who are looking for an alternative to Angie’s List.