Gig Economy – On demand Everything

We are a group of people that find ourselves excited about what modern technology can enable and the prospect of new economies.

Today, there are several products that are in the general ‘Uber for X’ category. As a society, we are fairly new to this. There is a raging debate about the pros and cons of such a ‘gig economy’.

These platforms such as Uber, Lyft, Task Rabbit etc. aim to directly connect a provider capable of a particular skill to a consumer in need of that skill. The underlying technology brings seamless, scheduling, prioritization, payment processing etc.

It is only a matter of time for such convenience and efficiency to arrive in the Home maintenance industry.

 

Govt. Regulations

However, what is at stake is the safeguards that government agencies have built and developed over the years. Granted, in some cases there is a degree of bureaucracy, that is outdated or behind times. Never the less, we have invested time and resources to understand these requirements and are happy to report that at this time, we have either met or exceeded those.

Currently, we operate in the state of Washington. Washington, requires all providers to have the requisite license, insurance and bond. In addition, there are strict workers comp requirements as well. Learn more.

 

Current Eco-System

After having spent time examining current home maintenance service options, we found that they fall broadly into three categories:

License, Insurance and bond

+

Workers comp

+

Taxation

Relationship with end-consumer Provider experience Consumer experience
Individual home maintenance service providers

 

Many do not meet adequate requirements Direct Uncertain work weeks; High risk; Low reliability
Small to medium sized home maintenance service providers

 

Most times, requirements are met. Direct Busy work weeks;

High operational, marketing costs.

Lower risk;

Difficult scheduling;

Aggregators such as homeadvisor, thumbtack etc. The aggregators, generally structure their product to avoid most liability and shift requirements to the providers.

 

Most carry and advertise some type of insurance that is geared toward protecting their liability and not so much accidental consumer property damages.

Aggregator passes on ‘lead’ to provider Provider under pressure to work for low prices; Needs to cycle through leads. Typically, upfront ‘lead cost’ regardless of outcome.

Creates a ‘race to the bottom’ situation.

Hit or miss experience;

Still leaves need to talk to several providers, scheduling and such pain points.

 

Mostly, leaves the risk of assessing need and adequacy of licensing, insurance requirements of the particular job to end-consumer

Classifieds such as Craigslist, Angieslist etc. Generally, classifieds take no responsibility whatsoever. Purely contact information. Consumer responsible for any relationship, contact and followup. Provider will need to put up with upfront costs, uncertainty and poor lead quality. Consumer in on his own. Needs to call several providers, manage scheduling, cancellation, research any online reviews and again assess need/adequacy of licensing/insurance requirements for particular job.

Our Approach

We believe that home maintenance should be a Simple and Delightful experience for both Consumer and Providers.

As are most, we get excited about new age ultra-scalable gig economy platforms. Howeve, as we understood more about the struggles that individual skilled providers face in building their businesses, we fell back to one of our core values: “Do the right thing. Always.”

It has not been easy, but as much as we understand, at this point, there is no gray area on this matter where we provide services now in Washington.

  • Duly registered as General Contractors with Washington Department of Labor and Industries.
  • More than adequate insurance at 2 Million Dollars.
  • Required bond posted
  • Required Workers comp account created
  • All our providers are W2 employees (Paid by direct deposit and taxes accounted for!)
  • Department of Revenue and Secretary of State paperwork completed
  • Back office geared to complete necessary quarterly reporting to various agencies.

 

Underground Economies

There are several forms of underground economies in this industry. Some blatant and some more circumspect by big and small operators.

This is important for all of us. After having been through the wringer on this, we are happy to report that most of it is there simply to ensure protections for providers, homeowners and their properties.

To an extent, we understand the circumstances that drive individuals who have to do that; And recognize the existence of sometimes taxing government red tape.

Our approach is to try and understand the intent of the rules set forth and follow them to our best capability. Where we disagree, rest assured, we will fight tooth and nail.

We support the State of Washington on its quest to address this issue.

http://www.lni.wa.gov/TradesLicensing/Contractors/UE/default.asp

We want to partner with providers who are on the same page with us. In addition, we strongly recommend that home owners do their due diligence on this, take steps to protect their investments and of course, help us along with feedback and comments.