Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone
Those annual spring home repairs just moved up the to-do list with the arrival of the season this past week.
Usually small in scope, home upkeep jobs can be a hard sell to a qualified trades person. Ask for a quote on a new kitchen or roof, and contractors will knock on your door the next morning.
But ask someone to come and look at a dripping tap, move a light switch, fix a noisy washing machine or make a toilet flush properly? Good luck with that.
That’s where Jaimie Grossman and his partners saw gold. Grossman is a tech start-up whiz, having already sold one venture profitably to yellowpages.com and now into his second hands-on project: jiffyondemand.com.
The concept is simple: like Uber, it’s a matchmaking service, linking trades with customers who need small jobs completed. Clients book online, or through the mobile app, and get their price quoted up front for the basics — plus parts if required — and then pay through the website. A money back guarantee is offered.
While there are similar matchmakers such as Homestars.com, Grossman says their concept works by going for the small stuff.
“We’re going for the sweet spot of under $ 500 because people have told us it’s really hard to get trades people in for those small jobs,” says Grossman, who with partners brother-in-law Paul Arlin and his former colleague Ryan Shupak, launched Jiffy On Demand in April, 2015.
They have since signed up hundreds of trades have completed 30,000 jobs in 30 different categories, Grossman says.
Now they’ve attracted a third round of financing from venture capital investors and are rolling out across Canada and the U.S., continuing to grow in Ottawa and recently launched in Boston.
“It started because Paul had bought a new house and my sister-in-law had been bugging him to put in a chandelier but he couldn’t get an electrician to give him a quote,” he says. “He was complaining about it and we said there has to be a better way for small jobs.”
They offer handymen, or licensed trades as needed, for jobs like cleaning eavestroughs, fixing toilets, wiring, roof repairs and roofing, cleaning the barbecue, home inspections or even clearing snow.
The key issue in online contracting is trust and Grossman addresses that issue with both a rating system for each trade and a money-back guarantee.
“If they don’t show up, or there’s a problem we refund the client,” he says. “Also, all the businesses are registered and insured.”
For Bell Mobile executive Jeff Schwartz, it’s been a lifeline.
“My wife is a lawyer, we have four kids, we have no time,” he says. “I can’t wait around for someone to show and, worse, have them not show — because that has happened.”
He started using the app for a simple eavestrough cleaning in June, 2015 and has since contracted around 25 jobs he says, from appliance repair, pest control to junk removal and snow cleaning.
“I click in the morning and someone comes by the end of the day,” he says. “Once, they came in an hour.”
Grossman says if the trades fail to show or let customers down, they lose points on their ratings and at some stage could be kicked off the site.
Jiffy has also struck a chord with small business owners like Pouneh Rouhani, of Luloo Boutique Homes, a Toronto real estate developer and rental owner who says despite having their own tradespeople working on major renovations, they were flummoxed trying to get someone to check on a rental property repair.
“Our own trades were too busy for small jobs,” she says ironically. “Often, they wouldn’t even show up.”
Rouhani turned to Jiffy. “We’re pretty much using them on a daily basis now,” she says. “We have our other long-term projects but with the 50 units we own or manage, we can stay on top of our customer service.”
Electrician John Drakos, of Fos Electric in Toronto has been on jiffyondemand.com for almost two years and describes it as a “Godsend.”
“If you ask tradespeople like me, ‘You can work 15 hours straight or spend 15 minutes doing paperwork,’ I think we’d take the 15 hours,” he says. “Jiffy really speeds things up, cuts out all the phone calls and estimates — which is all time and money. The rate is there and so the client has certainty, and so do we.”
He says they get a lot of emergency, after-hours call and last-minute calls.
“Yesterday a client had no power in their daughter’s room,” he says. “They checked the breaker and as much as they could. We came and it was a loose connection.”
Jiffy jobs range from installing a chandelier to almost anything, he says.
“They know they’re not going to get ripped off and don’t worry about who is coming into their home and I know I’m going to get paid,” he says. “It takes things to another level.”