Our goal is to build an online community that serves both homeowners and contractors equally well. The intent is to facilitate a business conversation so that both are happy. We do not intend to favour one over the other.
We have no affiliation with any other business. None whatsoever!
We choose the 411 suffix because most people in North America understand that to mean “getting information”.
MyReno411 uses the google search feature. Further information can be found at http://www.google.ca/insidesearch/tipstricks/all.html
The company started formal operations in January 2013. The first prototype was developed and deployed 6 months later in June 2013.
We went live at the Ottawa Home and Design Show in late September 2013.
The web service continues to be redeveloped, adding new features while redesigning how best to use the site.
We have over 130,000 businesses and stores doing home design and renovation listed across Canada.
We are in the process of qualifying them all, getting them to also post their reference projects, putting in email addresses, etc. That will take months of hard work and will be a never ending task.
We want to be to home design and renovation, what google is to search: the go to shop, for 100% of home design and renovation information. We are improving the features, the usability all the while adding content. The product plan is as follows:
Before starting we did a competitive analysis of over 1 dozen sites. No one site does all things well. Nor did we find one site that had the completeness of vision that we think is necessary for success.
We want to have a virtual marketplace, an online community of homeowners and businesses, all talking to each other on a 7/24 basis. That is what the web is all about. In effect this virtual marketplace is like a huge shopping centre that will allow window shopping (photos and videos) for inspiration, all sorts of information (articles and eBooks) will be provided in our library (without the bother of returning them), and all while connecting with the best business for you.
Many competitors have a directory service listing, listing contractors. Our approach is different.
Our experience is that it is very difficult to slot some businesses into pre-defined categories, for example. So our approach will be to let businesses – whether they are a single tradesperson or a multi-million dollar design and build firm, to describe themselves, as they see fit.
We already have a world class search engine to search through our library of information: through photographs, articles and eBooks.
Our intent is to have the richest web site for information – bar none – for home renovation.
We are always on the prowl for ideas on features as well as content to add.
As a relatively new web site and service our rating is very dynamic, increasing week by week. Ever since we started our ranking keeps improving as we invest in creating compelling content and harnessing social media to spread that content. We produce those statistics on a weekly basis for internal use.
We have been up – in production – since late September (2013) – so we are still the new kid on the block.
Currently, we are Ottawa based.
When Alex Beraskow, the founder of MyReno411, rebuilt his own home, he went through the total renovation experience. He found problems with finding reliable contractors as it was to get information on the renovation process.
Having been in IT for over 40 years he saw there was a much better way to do home renovation – by using the internet to provide information to homeowners while allowing contractors to advertise who they are and what they do.
The overall expectation is that services on the internet, at least on some level, should be free. Many popular internet services – Google, Facebook, LinkedIn – are all free. That is the expectation and the mark that we should meet. That is called a freemium model.
Such services are subsidised by advertising. We hope to do that as well.
If advertising doesn’t cover our costs we will move to a subscription model, charging businesses and possibly homeowners.
Of the 2 dozen sites, no other one has as complete a product and service vision.
MyReno411 will, in time become the one stop shop for home design and renovation – a virtual hub and marketplace, answering 3 broad questions:
Crowdsourcing – having consumers directly rate services and products – has become a popular way of determining quality as well as value. The internet has enabled everyone to have a vote, to have a say. This is a very important shift as now consumers can let others know their opinion.
The premise is that the sum total of everyone’s opinion is the very best measure that we have. That of courses recognises that some consumers may always be tough markers, just as some are very easy to please. In other words, the average of everyone’s opinion will be the best overall score. Moreover, consumers, reading reviews would also get a better sense of what kind of service and product they can expect.
Given the reputation economy that we live in, it also allows businesses providing those goods and services to know what others are saying, to harness those ratings as they are an excellent source of advertising and most importantly, to respond directly to comments and reviews. The intent is to provide an efficient marketplace through the exchange of information.
With the advent of mobility – WiFI, Cellular services – along with ubiquity – devices everywhere – crowdsourcing will become even more important.
Reviews can take less than 1 minute to write or they can take much longer, all depending on what you want to say. Moreover, they can be written in the language of your choice.
Reviews, through a process of crowdsourcing, are the best way to know who is reliable and who is not, who provides excellent service and value. Sometimes knowing who is good is as important as knowing who isn’t. The crowd sourcing process only works if everyone participates – just like voting. If no one voted, who knows what sort of government and services we would have!
The home design and renovation industry is huge, but business performance – individually or corporately – is very uneven. Mike Holmes claims that 20% of contractors are good, 70% are bad, and that 10% are awful. It is very difficult to find the “good” ones. Typically they are busy; some don’t even advertise relying on word of mouth.
Bad renovations are the second largest source of consumer complaints to government. The problem is very real. Governments seem to feel that more regulation is the answer. A better answer is to use crowdsourcing to provide information to homeowners.
So thank or spank a contractor today.
Coca-Cola is the number one recognised brand in the world and yet it continues to advertise, year in, year out. You will notice the logo everywhere, from movie theatres all the way to the Sudan, in the Sahara Desert. The question is why do they continue to advertise, do they really need to? Is it money wasted and does the saying, “half my advertising money is wasted but I don’t know which half”, apply?
How does Coca-Cola relate to you? Advertising, whether it is for a new entity or an established one, does two critical things. First, it creates and reaffirms mind share in consumers: out of sight, out of mind. Second, it affirms availability and, in some cases, it creates appetite and/or informs. Unfortunately, once out of mind, it can be difficult to work your way back in. Many businesses invest money to maintain a presence, to make sure their brand is always the go-to product or service, one step at least ahead of competitors.
If Coca-Cola needs to advertise, do contractors, whether business or trade focused, need to do so also? The real question is, what is the best, and the most effective way, to do so?
Advertising your capability and availability is key to a sustainable business operation. Having homeowners write reviews is the best strategy to promote your excellence and competence. The internet will do the rest. You just have to show that you are the best.
The review writing process is of paramount importance to us as part of the crowdsourcing approach. We realise that we need to be a trusted web site and that all information has to be authentic. That means real people writing about real work and products that they purchased.
Right now all reviews are reviewed by a person before being posted.
We are also developing a smart computer system to analyse the content, and we will use the best technology to find false reviews.
We are currently thinking about what to do when we find a false review. Do we throw the firm of our site, or let consumers know that we suspect a specific review may be false.
We will also automate the process of checking back with a homeowner that they authenticate the review.
Of course, we now automatically check for inappropriate language.
Let’s talk about how much money you currently spend on advertising, approximately, each year.
How many pages are on your web site?
Do you realise that MyReno411 does all that and more?
Isn’t there a better way to spend your hard earned marketing dollars?
Videomercials, a video infomercial, introducing a company and its services is a great way of advertising online. Highly effective and inexpensive. No other competitor offers this service.
Our research shows that there is a compelling reason to use videos in marketing
These videomercials are part and parcel of our extensive marketing campaign, whereby we have been posting compelling content on our web site and drawing homeowners to the site through social media.
In a very recent survey – Canadian Contractor, March/April 2014 – the question was “what were contractors having most difficulty with?”
Of the 7 possibilities – marketing, estimating, administration, accounting, employees, project management, and customer relations – the no 1 issue was “marketing”.
You are not alone.
Most contractors depend on referrals to find new business and not so much from random, unsolicited phone calls from homeowners. Many feel that there is no need to advertise and so continue to work the 60-80 hour weeks, trying to do it all: the work, billing, and marketing. All very time consuming and not all aspects generate revenue. That is the status quo – what most contractors know. There is a much better way.
The internet has transformed the advertising business. Many posit that The Yellow Pages approach is a broken model, caught in an old paradigm of print media and listings while trying to surf the internet. Contractors are asked to pay for their listings online and clients aren’t fooled. A number one listing can cost over $10,000 a year, for example. Google, while ostensibly being a free service, receives 40-50 % of all advertising dollars, and as such has transformed the way advertising gets done.
Given that the internet is becoming the predominant advertising platform what is the best approach?
The principal benefit of a pure online listing service includes the ability to post accurate and complete profile information (e.g. email address), to change it in real time (at any time, wherever you are), as well as to publish references, such as work and people’s comments.
The best advertising can arguably be in-fact the client reviews that should form the backbone of an authentic ranking scheme. While no one wants his/her report card published on the web, the reality is that homeowners hear about horrific projects that have gone awry and want to find reliable contractors. As a homeowner, would you select a contractor that had no reviews (other than a casual conversation from a neighbour or co-worker), or a contractor that had over 50 reviews with an average 80 per cent score?
Rule #1. Do good work for homeowners, your clients. No amount of advertising will overcome shoddy work, especially in an online world, with everyone interconnected, with everyone ready to share their opinions. If you can’t follow rule #1, find another career.
Rule #2. Have clients promote your business. Have them review your work, provide feedback to you, while also promoting you at the same time. Have them be your sales staff.
Rule #3. Establish a web presence as most consumers do their research on the web first. That can be your own or better yet on a site such as MyReno411.com
Do not expect to get a 100% rating. A rating of 80% - 4 out of 5 stars – will differentiate you from your competition by a long shot.
Expect to get a bad review. When that happens fix the problem. Show other prospects that you care and that are willing to look after them, that it is a long term relationship. Show them that you want clients for life, not just 1 single transaction. Studies prove that your rating actually improves by showing that you have acted responsibly.
Step 1. Go to the web site – www.myreno411.com – and find your profile. That process is called “claim your profile”. A correct profile is very important so that clients can find you. If it is there, claim it; if it isn’t there, create a profile. Make sure that your profile, as listed, is correct, including address and phone number. Then complete your profile by adding your logo and email address. It should all be very straightforward to do.
Step 2. While on the site, showcase your work by adding pictures of your work including projects. A complete profile will stand out from one that isn’t. You can also send us any videos and we can upload them.
Step 3. Invite your clients to write reviews of your completed projects. You can do that from your completed profile. Alternatively, send us a list of your clients and we will contact them directly on your behalf. Those reviews are your best advertising. Homeowners will always prefer a contractor with many reviews to one that has no reviews.
While steps 2 and 3 can be done at any time, step 1 – ensuring that your profile is accurate – should be done as soon as possible (ASAP).
Step 4. Let us know how we can serve you better.
Would you prefer buying from a business that had 50 online reviews with an average 4 of 5 star rating or from one that had no reviews? How much would advertising sway you?
Every business – from Coca-Cola and Apple, through your local corner store - advertises: to capture mind share and to let customers know that you are open for business.
Client referrals and testimonials are proven to be the most effective form of advertising. They are trusted by over 90% of consumers. They are also inexpensive and give critical feedback. Both are an integral part of your brand and reputation.
Given our web world, on line reviews – crowdsourcing - are the best form of referrals and testimonials. Research shows that a consumer checks over 10 information sources before making a purchasing decision and that over 70% of consumers trust on line reviews.
Make the on line review process work for you. Show your clients that you care what they think, that you want their feedback and comments. You can email your clients directly from your contractor profile, requesting them to review your work, at any time. Alternatively, we can also email your clients directly on your behalf to request them to review your work and then follow up with a personal call.
We have a very rigorous process designed to catch false reviews; that process keeps getting better. For example, only registered homeowners, ones with confirmed email addresses, can post a review.
Manage your reputation by responding to any review, good or bad. Research shows that a positive and professional response to a bad review in fact enhances your overall reputation. Consumers appreciate contractors who provide full service and support, who follow up on client issues. It clearly demonstrates that you are paying attention and that you care.
Recognise at outset, that attaining perfection – 5 of 5 stars – will be difficult if not impossible. If Olympians can’t do it, with very rare exception, neither should you expect to do so. Ratings highlight the best of the bunch, which should be every contractor’s goal; to be the best not to be perfect.
You will also be sent a copy of every review so that you can manage your brand and reputation. You will always be in the know.