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  #1  
June 26th, 2005, 07:58 AM
mommyang's Avatar Veteran
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 266
sorry in advance this is so long, but i posted it on another site that seemed to have a TON of traffic in hopes of getting some decent responses and advice, but after over 100 views and only 2 responses, im getting really discouraged!! so i copied it and am pasting it here to see if any of you ladies can help...PLEASE!! any feedback would be greatly appreciated!!

first, a little background on my idea...
my dh and i bought our first home last june. this year, after the first winter thaw, we had water POURING into our basement through a wall that wasnt waterproofed because it is behind a built in entertainment unit that covered the whole wall. at first we thought it was our water softener system (we have well water) so we called culligan out to check for cracks or leaks. they didnt find anything. the very next day, the same man that came out called us back to let us know that he was going through past service calls for our address and the lady we bought the house from had them out almost a year earlier for the SAME THING!! it was 11 days before we signed our sellers agreement, and 2 months before we signed closing papers. she never once said anything about water being in the basement and our inspector didnt see physical evidence at the time of inspection. but it was a problem she knew about and failed to disclose. so now, after months and months of bs and trying to find contractors for estimates and such, we finally have what we need and have an ongoing case against this woman. its unfortunate, but theres almost $18,000 in estimates to get this repaired and all the damaged stuff replaced, so we have no choice but to take her to court. so thats what brought on my idea.

going through the phone book looking for contractors was more then frustrating. there are soooo many listed, half dont tell you more then a general description, 3/4 of the ones listed under general contractors didnt even do what we were needing them for (most were new construction builders or remodelers) we spent so much time on the phone it was unreal!! so my idea is this:
wouldnt it be so much easier to call ONE place, tell them what services youre looking for, pay a small fee and get a list of companies in your area, a list of their referrals, any reports from the BBB if there are any? this way, youre not wasting your time calling 50 different places, you have some background on the company, and you can see right away what previous customers have to say about work theyve had done?? not to mention, how many of us REALLY look into a business to make sure they are legit and youre going to get your money's worth?
and im not just talking about contractors here...im thinking about all kinds of businesses, preschools (since we have soooo many in our area to choose from) car dealerships, ect. (i still need some more ideas about businesses to market to)

i would also like to make it a 2 way street. market to businesses who can pay me a yearly fee for listing their company and offer 2 services to consumers. #1- they can call for references and referrals and #2- they can either write or email me about their experiences with certain companies (good or bad) which i will log and rate on some sort of scale for future customers to see. (no charge for this service- actually thinking about offering a small discount or *something* to customers for doing this)
so thats my big idea. but here are my questions- the ones i can think of right now anyways-
#1 is this a service you would pay for? there is no other service like this available in my area OR surrounding areas
#2 i need a bigger list of businesses to market to (any ideas?)
#3 what would be the most effective way to get businesses to go for it?
#4 should i start with just my area or the entire county?
#5 being that there are no other services like this available- how much should i charge, businesses and consumers?

sorry this turned out so long. i just wanted to make sure i covered everything i can think of. this isnt something i plan on doing tomorrow- i want to get as much advice/feedback/support as possible and really do my research before anything. im due any day now with my 3rd baby, so i have no problem going slowly to develope my idea before even taking a step.

TIA,

Angie
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  #2  
June 26th, 2005, 11:24 AM
Shandusky's Avatar Super Mommy
Join Date: May 2005
Location: SATX
Posts: 617
honestly?

I love the idea! Basically your the research department and you give out all the info for the type of help they need. Whatever that may be. I'm currently wondering how th eheck I'm going to find a baby sitter I can trust, in a big big city I have never lived in. Being able to call some place and say.."I need a good baby sitter that is trustworthy, young, can be on call, can baby sit for me when I want to go out some thursday or friday night.. or even in th emiddle of the day if need be... and if she has previous employer ratings.. all the better!

If I needed the sam eservices that you needed, with a ltitle baby.. it's worth the money and saving that TIME that you don't really have.. to at least get a few good leads to call on.

The only problem I see with marketing to the companies, is that you may get jaded information from the company. Maybe have two types of listings. Customer recommend and rated, and company paid listing. Just so the real customers, know that company paid to be listed with you. (Not that it's a really bad thing.. ;it isn't. Means more money for you, and more free services for the customer.) If you got to a point where you were making more money by companies listing, you could then offer the business locating for free.

I really realyl do like the idea! Alot. I wish you luck with it.. I wish I'd had that idea..


To answer your questions..

#1 is this a service you would pay for? there is no other service like this available in my area OR surrounding areas

Yes, depending on the price, and the worth that I see in saving my own time, for a narrowed down listing of trustworthy businesses.

#2 i need a bigger list of businesses to market to (any ideas?)
Any and all businesses. Basically your talking about a list as big as your phone book. Maybe start in one or two area's. Maybe start with things for children? Day care providers, baby sitters, pediatricians, pre-schools, schools. That should be a pretty big area and if you advertise it right.. that could generate quite a bit of interest. If it hits off well, you can expand from there to include things like.. I dunno. Contractors?
If you have a pretty large audience who have already used your service (keep their names and numbers or addresses!) maybe you can ask them what other types of businesses they'd be interested in seeing in your serices.

maybe your customers can earn so much of a 'dollar amount' to use toward their next request for listings and ratings.

#3 what would be the most effective way to get businesses to go for it?
Work up the plan first, to show how it would benefit them. Show them how it would be a worthy investment for them to pay you money to refer them to people for their services. Show them how you can reach parents or community members who are in need of their help, but they can't find them among the vast amount of phone book ads. There are no ratings for wich they can go by, and no customer feedback that can be read or obtained.

#4 should i start with just my area or the entire county?
Depends on how big your area is. How many of one TYPE of business, can you list and get referrals for? If not many, then go by county. But, if your goin gon a local scale, then you may only want to use your own city or at least, the area in wich it's viable that people call them up for help. You don't want to offer info for businesses that are 20 miles away and essentially worthless. If you go county, make sure you make your advertising county wide. Maybe a county newspaper

#5 being that there are no other services like this available- how much should i charge, businesses and consumers?
How much will it take you in time, to (once everything is set up) list and maintain the listings for the business, how much time and money will it take to obtain the BBB information on the business. How much time do you expect you'll be spending on the phone with people looking for the listings?

As far as consumers go, remember they are probably calling for a service that is going to charge them for whatever it is they need. I wouldn't expect to pay more than maybe 5 or 6 bucks - 10 and over, and I'll figure I'll do it myself. That's just me. A low enough amount that it isn't something they are going to miss, and they are more likely to use the service and pay.

I'd consider making it a higher cost for the businesses. Maybe a couple hundred dollars for a few months, or more for an entire year. Not sure how you want to do that, but the heavy cost should be on the businesses that want to pay to have their listing highlighted.

You may have to fine tune that part a bit more. But overall the idea I think, is a pretty nice consumer oriented service that I wish was already in place in SA!
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  #3  
June 27th, 2005, 08:47 AM
in_mommy's Avatar I am just me
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 14,873
I know that there is a place in Indianapolis IN that does something similar to that. Do a little research and see if you can find a website and get some ideas on what they offer and prices.
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  #4  
June 27th, 2005, 04:51 PM
mommyang's Avatar Veteran
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 266
wow! thanks so much for taking the time to respond!! i really like the idea of starting with one specific area (kids, for example) then expanding. it makes things seem a little less overwhelming until i can get my feet wet with the whole process. and you know, my idea isnt patented....lol... feel free to copy....lol

getting such good feedback really gets me more and more excited about all of it! now, if i can just have this baby, get into a good routine, i can finally really start to develope this business!! i cant wait!!!

TA,

Angie
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  #5  
August 22nd, 2005, 10:08 AM
Super Mommy
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 548
There is a company that does this. It's called service magic (.com). I don't know much about them though and I'm sure they could use a little competition!
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