Siblings Adora and Aaron Cheung launched Homejoy in 2012 as a platform that connects consumers — whether owners or renters — with cleaners. Now Homejoy is rolling out two new services — carpet cleaning and what they call general handymen services — and joining the fray of companies like Handy (formerly Handybook) that aim to provide a suite of services that one might need to maintain their homes.
While Handy wants to be the "Amazon for home services," Homejoy COO Xiao Wei Chen told BuzzFeed News, the company wants to be the "get help" button. The services the company is rolling out today are among several that Homejoy had been beta testing in the San Francisco market since July, including window cleaning, plumbing, landscaping, and pest control.
"We're seeing pretty huge demand in almost all the services that we're beta testing," Chen said. "The decision for what to roll out in a slightly larger scale was based on our confidence that we can deliver that great customer service and great customer experience for those services. It's kind of in line with how we developed home cleaning."
Only when the demand for Homejoy's home cleaners service increased and the quality of the product itself improved did the company begin expanding to markets outside of San Francisco. It plans to do the same for carpet cleaning and handyman services, Chen said. The company is first offering these additional home services to the San Francisco Bay Area and San Jose.
General cleaning, however, is arguably a less technical skill than either carpet cleaning or tasks that would fall under the category of handymen services (which Chen says is a broad category that can include anything from mounting a TV to furniture assembly to air conditioner repair.) So the process of on boarding these service providers is much more involved than that of cleaners.
Like cleaners, all Homejoy service providers have to undergo the same government-required background checks. Homejoy cleaners are either professional cleaners or have had some type of cleaning experience and are either paired up with a more senior cleaner on the platform or a Homejoy employee to complete a cleaning assessment.
Those providing these new services (carpet cleaning and handymen), on the other hand, have to have professional experience and are evaluated in Homejoy's testing facilities, which Chen wouldn't go into too much detail about.
"To some extent this is our secret sauce," he told BuzzFeed News.
"We've had to reinvent how we recruit, screen, and train our handymen and carpet cleaners," Chen said. "One of the things that we did in home cleaning was we did an actual hands on assessment of the person's cleaning ability. Putting a handyman in our cleaning evaluation doesn't really make sense so we've actually built our own testing center. It's pretty extensive and find it's a really good way of screening out for our customers."
In terms of payments, the system is largely similar to that of home cleaning services, except that some services cost more than others.
"It's based on how difficult the service is and what it would cost for us to attract service providers," Chen said. "Because we're a two-sided marketplace, we want to make sure we're very competitive for customer price and service providers' pay. They often have many alternatives so we want to pick the right rates."
With the independent contractor economy coming under fire recently for labor issues the independent contractors face, including low wages and lack of insurance, companies introducing a new segment of workers into the world of freelancers have to tread softly. Homejoy, for one, seems well aware of the climate the company is expanding into.
"There's usually two types of service providers that we attract: service providers that work at a company, small business, or franchise company or service providers that work for themselves as contractors," Chen said. "For the service providers that work at companies, our pitch is you can make your schedule — we don't lock you into a 9 to 5 or 8 to 6. You can review the available jobs and pick which one you want to do ... because we have so much technology to make things efficient, we can pay service providers far, far more. They can often work less hours and make often the same annual pay or work more hours and make way more money."
Independent contractors who choose to work for Homejoy full-time are afforded an even better offer, according to Chen.
"For providers that work for themselves, this provides a trusted brand that does all of the marketing, all of the back-office booking, scheduling, and rescheduling. They spend more of their time earning money rather than chasing down customers or negotiating. We found this sweet spot that really appeals to skilled service providers."
According to Chen, Homejoy plans to bring these new services to all of their 34 markets in North America and Europe, though Chen did not give any details on a timeline or which market it plans to tackle next.