THE MAGAZINE FOR PROFESSIONALS

Porch.com

by Meghann Finn Sepulveda

porch-logo-standardAs a data-driven entrepreneur, this thought inspired him to create an online tool for homeowners so they could easily connect with professionals in all areas of home maintenance, improvement and renovation—from plumbing and lawn care to painting and roofing. Today, Porch.com has grown from a small start-up to a trusted online network employing a team of more than 400 and consisting of 3.2 million home professionals featuring more than 132 million projects—and a strategic partnership with national retailer Lowe’s.

PORCH PLATFORM

According to Porch, millions of homeowners search online to find home-improvement professionals, with painting as one of the top five categories. Porch has connected hundreds of thousands of industry pros with homeowners and jobs by securing new business through a comprehensive search tool that can be customized by type of service and zip code. This gives pros the opportunity to gain quality homeowner referrals and leads by working in the specific neighborhoods of their choice.

“We make that connection between homeowner and professional,” said Porch CEO Matt Ehrlichman. “We have the data homeowners want so they can make an informed decision, which ultimately creates trust and transparency for our users.”

With a free basic Porch profile, pros can upload projects and photos; monitor ratings and reviews; have access to analytics and data; show up in homeowner searches; and connect with Porch partners including Lowe’s customers at 1,720 stores across the country. Pros looking for more significant exposure can upgrade to a premium membership, which includes additional benefits such as reputation monitoring, customer support, competitive insights, search engine optimization, and more.

“I encourage every professional to create a profile on the site,” Ehrlichman said. “Many pros rely strictly on Porch for representation instead of maintaining a separate business web site.”

Porch profiles include company background, services provided, number of years in business, average project costs, and contact information.

To date, Porch has verified 560,000 licenses of its pros, which are posted to those individual profiles, and has a technology partnership with the Better Business Bureau to include BBB ratings on the site.

Later this year, Porch will be rolling out its Guaranteed Professionals program.

“Select professionals will have a guarantee badge next to their profile,” Ehrlichman said. “All professionals who receive the badge have been prequalified and have met initial eligibility requirements, including a background check.”

BUSINESS INVESTMENT

John Shearer, owner of Shearer Painting in Seattle, WA, was approached by Porch before its official launch and asked to participate in the site’s beta testing. A very visible painter, he was happy to oblige.

“What sets Porch apart from its competitors is that it’s the best return on investment,” Shearer said. “It gives people the opportunity to look at the work you do and view real projects that were completed right in their neighborhood, which is not only appealing to potential customers, but brings qualified leads.”

Jeff Clark, president and founder of Three Sixty Solutions, a Seattle-area-based professional painting and flooring business, never advertised before joining Porch in 2014.

“I had made a conscious decision to make myself more visible,” said Clark. “I was given a dedicated resource who held my hand through the entire process, which made it very easy.”

Like many pros, Clark has seen a steady increase in business since creating his premium membership profile with Porch.

“From a design perspective, the site is so visually friendly and simple to understand,” Clark added. “I can very easily add new work that we’ve done and update my profile. To me, that is key.”

LOWE’S PARTNERSHIP

One very unique aspect of Porch is its relationship with Lowe’s. When the national home-improvement retailer began seeking a partner who could connect its customers to local, reputable professionals to help complete a job, it interviewed 62 companies and ultimately chose Porch based on Ehrlichman’s entrepreneurial drive, tech-savvy ability, and business expertise.

According to Jay Rebello, vice president of new-business development and corporate innovation at Lowe’s, “By working together with Porch, we have been able to connect customers from our 1,720 stores with local, experienced professionals for any home-service need outside of Lowe’s current installation services.”

Following a successful pilot program at select Lowe’s stores, the partnership eventually expanded to every location in April 2014.

Today there are dedicated, freestanding Porch kiosks at specific Lowe’s, which gives customers in-store access to industry professionals.

“Our staff is well-equipped to help customers with any home-improvement project from start to finish—including projects like painting, landscaping, and other handyman services,” Rebello added. “We have also strengthened our partnership with our professional customers who shop at Lowe’s by providing them with business leads.”

BECOMING A PORCH PRO

All ‘basic’ Porch pros have the opportunity to grow their business and gain recognition, demonstrate their work, develop a brand, and monitor their reputation while managing their clients. Pros can upgrade to a ‘premium’ membership for approximately $100 per month (cost may vary based on zip code and household income levels).

“We estimate our premium members receive 15 times more leads than basic members,” says. Ehrlichman. Premium members receive more exposure, and have access to sponsor and advertising opportunities, as well as dedicated support and account management services.

“Pros need to ask themselves how much business do they want and what can they really take on,” Ehrlichman said. “We work with every member through our partnership to make that happen.”

Busy painting pros like John Shearer, who is expecting to contract an estimated $500,000 by November in projects booked through Porch, credits the network’s overall design and functionality for his success.

“It’s a win-win situation,” he said. “It’s been great.”

To learn more, visit Porch.com

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