No, I’m not Angie (of Angie’s List) but I must admit that I’m asked that question a lot.
While at first glance, it may appear that my Homeowner Referral Network (HRN) business offers the same type of service as online contractor referral services such as Angie’s List (which was recently acquired by Home Advisor), the truth is that our businesses are quite different.
First and foremost, our revenue models are different. Angie’s List makes money by allowing contractors to advertise and offer promotions to their members. My HRN business earns money from commissions paid by my contractors and they only pay me when they get paid which is far more appealing to them. Contractors can’t pay me a fee to represent them. In my opinion, accepting advertising compromises the unbiased referrals I provide.
Another important distinction between my HRN business and national, online contractor referral businesses like Angie’s List is that my contractor referral business is local and personalized. I meet and screen each contractor in my network. I know his or her work because I’ve actually seen it. Beyond screening my contractors for licensing (which can vary not only by state but by county), insurance, references and more, in most cases I know their employees, family members, and even where they live. How can an online contractor referral service based in Indianapolis adequately vet contractors in 50 different states?
In addition to hand-picking my contractors, I individually match them to every job. And, beyond a contractor’s trade, there are several variables that need to be taken into consideration – time frame, contractors’ schedules, budget and personality types – to name a few.
For example, when a homeowner calls me and says they need a painter to spruce up their home for sale, I’m not going to refer them to the most expensive painter in my network who primarily works with high end decorators and architects. And when another homeowner asked me for a handyman who would take his shoes off when he worked in her home, I knew that would eliminate more than half of the contractors on my list.
And finally, after speaking with hundreds (maybe even thousands) of homeowners over the years, I have heard repeatedly that while they may go online to check out photos and get renovation and design ideas, when it comes to hiring a contractor to work in their home, they want a personal recommendation.
I guess that’s the reason why my HRN business has been so successful. I may not be Angie, but I know the value of providing well-screened, personalized contractor referrals.
Do you dream about launching a home-based business?
You’re not alone. (more…)
It’s called the “Graying of America”.
As of November 2016 there were more than 50 million seniors living in the U.S. and according to AARP (American Association of Retired Persons), more than 90% of them want to remain in their homes or “age in place”.
But, as senior homeowners begin to experience reduced eyesight, poorer balance, reduced flexibility, etc. home modifications need to be made in order for them to live safely and comfortably.
The most widely requested home features that are especially important to seniors are:
- Safety features such as non-slip floor surfaces (80%)
- Bathroom aides such as grab bars (79 percent)
- A personal alert system that allows people to call for help in emergencies (79%)
- Entrance without steps (77%)
- Wider doorways (65%)
- Lever-handled doorknobs (54%)
- Higher electrical outlets (46%)
- Lower electrical switches (38%)
The majority of these features do not currently exist in most seniors’ homes:
– The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports that 75% of remodelers report an increase in inquiries related to aging in place.
– The NAHB also predicts that the aging in place remodeling market to be $20-$25 billion which is 10% of the $214 billion home improvement industry.
Most importantly, senior homeowners and their caregivers need to find contractors they can trust which is why Aging in Place Referrals has evolved from my existing Homeowner Referral Network (HRN) business. I personally saw the need to modify the homes of many of my clients and their families who I started working with 20+ years ago.
If you’d like to learn more about the senior housing market in your area, check out https://www.seniorcare.com/directory
This summer marks the 20th anniversary of my Homeowner Referral Network (HRN) business. 20 years! It’s hard to believe.
So much has changed since 1996. Back then, I worked from an old farm table in my basement with my two daughters at my feet. I purchased my first computer with a $5000 loan from my husband’s retirement savings plan and I didn’t have a website because the internet didn’t even exist back then! I started with just 5 contractors in my network—a pest control specialist, painter, handyman, floor refinisher and a plumber–and printed my direct mail cards to homeowners on a refurbished printer. My first commission check was a whopping $30!
Once my business became profitable, I decided to give myself a gift and hired a few of the incredible contractors in my network to renovate our front porch and convert it into my home office:
This is a clip of the first news article that was written about my business in 1997 in a local newspaper. After this article, my phone didn’t stop ringing with calls from contractors, homeowners and other entrepreneurs who were all interested in my business:
By year two, my income had almost doubled and gained the attention of homeowners and contractors nationwide, not to mention the media:
Now, 20 years later, I have worked with almost 100 contractors and am proud to say that 80% of the ones who first started with me are still in my network (including the contractor who paid me my first $30 commission)! I still work alone but am now connected with 300 other incredible business owners who are operating HRN businesses like mine all across the country.
Over the years, I’ve seen the start of companies like Improvenet, Angie’s List and Home Advisor to name a few—all of whom attempt to satisfy the universal need for homeowners to find trustworthy contractors. I started Home Remedies before all of them and have been able to compete and survive for two basic reasons:
- I kept my business personal and local.
- I remained true to my commitment 20 years ago which was to be a “trustworthy resource for local homeowners and an outsourced sales and marketing force for local contractors”.
I never dreamed that the simple home based business I launched from my basement would have grown into a cottage industry nationwide. The rewards have been tremendous and I am grateful for my clients, my contractors and all of my fellow HRN owners who have helped me achieve this extraordinary milestone!
My father was my role model, mentor and best friend for 47 years. I credit his sage advice for many of the blessings in my life including a happy marriage, wonderful children and yes, my successful business. I learned some of the most important lessons from my father just by watching how he lived his own life. He was on his own from the age of 13 and his life experience made him resourceful, street smart and self-sufficient. Sadly, my father passed away 2 ½ years ago, and, as anyone who has lost a parent knows, the loss is unimaginable.
Over the years as my father grew older, his lessons became even more valuable to me because I knew that my time with him was limited. His mind remained sharp but it was clear to him (and to me) that his body wasn’t as strong as it used to be and safety was becoming an issue. He was living alone in a house in Florida and I spent many sleepless nights worrying about potential hazards, accidents, etc.
My father wasn’t one to ask for help so, on every birthday and holiday, I gave him a gift that would make his life more manageable-an automatic garage door opener, carts to wheel out his recyclables, new appliances, shower grab bars, large print books and eventually an aide to stay with him on the weekends. He was proud and accepted my gifts with humility because I think he knew they would help him remain in the home he loved for as long as possible which thankfully, he did.
As I prepare to muddle through another Father’s Day without him, it occurs to me that although he’s not here, my father continues to teach and guide me. Watching him live out his years in his home was the brainchild for the newest chapter in my business, www.aginginplacereferrals.com. Keeping him safe was a priority and finding contractors and service providers who could help me do that made me realize first-hand the value that my business can offer to senior homeowners and their caregivers who are in the same position as I was.
My father was my biggest fan and I was his. I know that he’s looking down on me and is proud of the business I built, the mother and wife I am and the person I’ve become. It’s all a testament to him and for that I am blessed.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad!