Sutro and pHin’s contract-work platforms are joining an ever-growing list of similar service marketplaces that pair homeowners with skilled workers and take a cut of the transaction. (See also HomeAdvisor, Angie’s List, Thumbtack, Amazon Home Services and now Google Home Service Ads.)
Should a technician utilize all of them to get leads, he’d be inundated with inquiries coming from all these disparate sources. How can a pro possibly reply to them all while maintaining his routes day to day?
Sutro’s CEO and founder Ravi Kurani believes the answer maybe in the technology. “Our goal is to aggregate all of this to make the pool tech’s life easier, so they can do the job they do best, which is servicing, repairing and maintaining pools.”
He’s is talking about the potential for a third-party software program to receive requests from all these various platforms and serve as a sort of virtual dispatcher. Consider it the Uber approach to pool service. Just like how the ridesharing program instructs its drivers when and where to pick up passengers, the pool pro could choose to outsource all the pesky administrative details leaving him little to do but drive and clean and fix pools.
“How does the driver know what to do? They know what to do because Uber tells them what to do,” says Kurani, who, coincidentally grew up in the pool industry. (His father had a chain of pool stores in California.)
Where Sutro and pHin have an advantage is that they’re pool-specific, unlike their generic counterparts which supply homeowners a variety of contractors – plumbers, handymen, etc. Besides, it’s not as though there will always be a dozen-plus lead-generation platforms competing for your attention, developers say. Over time, pool service technicians will narrow down the options after seeing which ones prove out. Though they all offer the potential to connect with new customers, there are differences between them. For example, pay structures are certainly a consideration, as some charge per lead whether you accept the job or not.
“I think service techs will choose the ones that are working and disengage from the ones that aren’t,” says Justin Miller, co-founder and CEO of Palo Alto-based ConnectedYard, maker of pHin.
Plus, you can probably expect to see some consolidation in this arena, he says – especially as Internet giants Amazon and Google look for market share.