RedFish takes the ‘Y’ out of DIY
A new, free online service wants to connect South African home owners with quality tradesmen. By Craig Wilson.
Finding plumbers, builders and other tradesmen can be a stressful process, with most people relying on suggestions from friends or family rather than simply thumbing through the classifieds. Start-up RedFish is a new online service that’s hoping to change that by allowing consumers to post ads for jobs that need doing, getting tradesmen to bid on the jobs, and letting customers review their work when the job is complete.
In turn, RedFish allows tradesmen to find jobs and to market themselves using the reputation they build on the site. It’s free, at least for now, for tradesmen to sign up and free for consumers wanting to list jobs they need doing.
Co-founder and director Genevieve Dalrymple says the intention is to bring the home improvement industry online, allowing vetted and rated tradesmen to find work while also providing consumers with transparent ratings of tradesmen.
“It’s an online solution for customers to get stuff done, with an ocean of potential clients for tradesmen,” she says.
Tradesman can register for free, choose a category that fits their line of work, and they can opt to receive immediate updates of newly posted jobs to which they might be suited. They can then offer a quote and the customer can choose which tradesman they wish to use.
“On completion of a job, a customer is asked to provide a rating of the tradesman and their work, which is then added to their public profile page,” Dalrymple explains. This allows tradesmen to develop a reputation on the site, improving their chances of getting future work in the process.
This customer review mechanism forms the crux of the service, according to Dalrymple. She says the home improvement and construction industries have a bad reputation and RedFish wants to ensure consumers get the best possible service while reputable tradesmen get the business they deserve.
She says customers are encouraged to “think hard” before posting negative reviews and, in order to reduce the chance of people gaming the review system, the only person that can rate a particular job is the customer who posted it.
“We’re a lead-generating platform, so we don’t get involved in the actual jobs or dispute resolution,” she adds. “Anyone can have a bad day and receive a bad review, but over time multiple reviews should give people a good overview of a tradesman.”
Dalrymple says she and fellow founder Theunis Hanekom, who are based in Hout Bay, are the two “active” members of RedFish, with the start-up getting advice from Philipp Hartmann — a German digital marketer who relocated to Cape Town a decade ago — and Joost Gielen, a Dutch entrepreneur who started a lead-generation service called Werkspot in the Netherlands.
RedFish received its initial funding from Europe, having made contacts there through Hartmann and Gielen. Dalrymple is reluctant to reveal who the backers are and how much they’ve invested.
Since the service was launched six weeks ago, it’s had about 100 tradesmen sign up and 50 or so jobs have been completed.
Though there are plans to take the service to every major South African city, Dalrymple says the focus for now is the Western Cape.
“We’re starting here to get a feel for it and see how customers respond,” she says. Nevertheless, jobs are already being posted from other parts of South Africa.
Will RedFish eventually start charging to use the site? Dalrymple says the service will always be free for end users but once it has reached a critical mass of them, it may start charging tradesmen a small subscription fee. “In the meantime, we’re trying to get the message out there and attract the right sort of people.” — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media