Is Online Networking the Brave New World of Specialty Contractor Success?

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Isn't it interesting how things change over time? By and large, we are a nation of do-it-yourselfers. Most of us like to tackle projects and, around the home, many people are pretty good at the small tasks and easy repair jobs. When it comes to something bigger, however, we usually ask friends, seek local referrals from trusted merchants, and agonize over the choice of a remodeler or specialty contractor. Or we simply call the person in town who has been in the building industry business the longest.

That can be a problem.

Change Ahead

Changes in the building industry and the growth of internet marketing dictate that we explore new ways to buy and sell products, advertise and promote services and contract the work that needs doing. It's a concern both for the homeowner and for the builder/remodeler or building materials supplier. 

We have talked before about the value of social media and the need to establish a presence on the World WideWeb. But there now seems to be a new horse in the race. Two new sharing sites seek to virtually unite service providers with those who are seriously seeking service.

Virtual "Yellow Pages" for the Specialty Contractor

Virtual "yellow pages" like pro.com facilitate finding a pro and getting a price through a digital network of registered and recommended professionals. It's all coordinated by an online project manager, and legitimized through customer testimonials.

Another newcomer is porch.com, a "partner" with Lowe's, with a stated mission "to help everyone, everywhere, to love their home." At first glance, it seems to be a simple listing service. There is a straightforward menu of professionals in a specific location, complete with contact information. Details such as BBB rating, licenses and previous project price range are included. There is also an interactive menu that allows you to type in information about your intended project. The assumption is that an appropriate professional will make contact, saving you the initial step of finding suitable candidates.

Both sites were founded in Seattle in 2013. While pro.com claims to represent 5,500 markets across the country and offers to manage the process, porch.com appears to offer several options. 

Both sites are visually pleasing, easy to navigate, and look promising in terms of value. But do they work?

Room for More? 

Already there are sites that allow professionals to showcase their work and products, flaunt their success and impress potential clients, notably Houzz.com; gallery sites like Pinterest encourage a business presence. Is there still room for more? 

We don't have the answers, but we'd like to hear your thoughts. If you're a part of any such online network, we'd appreciate a shout out detailing your experience. We all know that the specifics of marketing and promotion are changing our world, and that the future of building materials and professional contracting is shifting. We're just trying to calculate where, when and how we will all arrive at some destination. We're wondering what the landscape will look like once we arrive.

Or, are we being too skeptical? 

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LBM

Isaac Oswalt

Owner of 21 Handshake, a strategic marketing company, driven to grow relationship-driven businesses. Futurist in nature, Isaac displays a deep desire to preserve the human element in today's business. Trust being the ultimate currency, his clients appreciate that "new and stronger handshakes" is a success metric in their businesses.

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