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Serving at your convenience

Jayashree Narayanan Nov 3, 2015, DHNS 23:57 IST
When Prashant Chaudhary came back to India from the United States, he was looking to hire a plumber and electrician for his house maintenance. But different local servicemen quoted different prices or didn’t turn up on time. That is when he and his childhood friend Mayank Agrawal decided to work on a model where these services and servicemen would be available at “convenience and at a fixed price”.

“That is how Mr Right was started, with 50-60 handymen in June 2013,” recollects co-founder Agrawal. After close to eight months of operation as a home cleaning and repair service, they soon shifted to being an on-demand service aggregator to include more than 15 services in the Delhi-NCR region. “Our aim is to enhance the experience of customers and connect both - customers and servicemen seamlessly,” emphasises Agrawal.

Given the fact that smartphone penetration is going to increase monumentally in coming years, market opportunity for these kinds of portals and applications in this sector is set to rise.

According to the start-up industry tracker Tracxn, home service industry in India is growing rapidly as around 69 start-ups were founded in 2014 alone. Some of the players include Mr Right, HouseJoy, LocalUstaad, SBricks, Fixy, Timesaverz, Zimmber, near.in, taskbob, Findyahan, Urbanpro, Urbanclap, Hometriangle and Qyk who offer services like deep cleaning, car wash, housekeeping, plumbing, painting, electrical and pest control to name a few.

“Everybody has a local serviceman whom they can depend on, but the issue begins with chasing them,” Sunil Goel, co-founder of Bengaluru-based HouseJoy tells Metrolife. Working with the premise that neither listing sites nor service providers were providing adequate and satisfactory services to customers, HouseJoy was launched in January 2015. They hired in-house professionals after a “rigorous hiring, operating and feedback process”.

“There is a strict background verification process that we follow. We also monitor their performance continuously through customer feedback,” says its co-founder Arjun Kumar. Beautician Richa Sharma has been working with HouseJoy for the last eight months. She feels working in such kind of set-up is “extremely demanding”.

“It is very different from working in a salon. Customers are much more demanding as any negative feedback is visible online. It pushes one to be adept and be alert,” she says.

Understanding that impeccable services help in gaining trust of consumers in this highly-competitive market, these portals are asking users to mention “convenient date and time” for a serviceman to pay a visit.

“We were the first ones to introduce appointment slabs in the market so that the serviceman can visit anywhere between those timings. Say, for instance, 12pm- 3pm. The customers can priortise their work accordingly,” Agrawal points out.

Goel describes this aspect as a “curated market place so that there is standardisation of quality at a fixed price.”

Bangalore-based Pallav Atreja took couple of services, including carpentry after seeing an ad online. “The prices were decent and they had all the equipments in check.

That made the experience satisfactory.” According to Goel the aim of such service providers is to take “end-to-end responsibility of management.”“Our approach is to reach out to households rather than an individual. A household has issues at multiple levels and that is what we cater to. In fact, hyper local marketing of demand and supply (primary focus on the community’s needs) is what we aim,” he says.

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