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The Race Ahead: Home Services Startups

Home services startups aracere going to face a tough ride ahead faced with challenges like security and competition from rival firms. Connecting home owners with servicemen or technicians via an app may seem like a simple matter, however it’s not.

There is a lot of work that go behind the scenes to ensure that all goes smoothly and the work gets delivered. The first challenge is to persuade the servicemen including carpenters, electricians and plumbers regarding the advantage of working with unknown digital entities.

According to Amit Kumar, chief operating officer of Zimmber, “We sat, interacted and had tea with the servicemen and their families so that we could understand their psychology. We wanted to connect with them and know their aspirations.”

Zimmber asked the servicemen to attend a workshop and bring along their associates for being inducted into Zimmber. There were six people turning up. Kumar and his team repeated the exercise. In each workshop there were more servicemen coming in. At the moment, Zimmber employs around 700 servicemen whom they call ‘champs’.

An important part of ‘maturing’ is making sure that service quality is consistent. This means that execution has to be superb. The startups also need to persuade customers that it is not only handy to use their services, but also safe to permit the servicemen into their homes. For this, there is a lot of planning going on.

Home Service startups are working very hard to put robust systems into place to employ the right people. The company is engaged with background verification companies for checking scores of handymen, and conducting core skills tests, face-to-face interviews and behavioural tests. Housejoy is planning to rope in established brands for training their service providers, which include bathroom fittings maker Jaguar to train the startups’ plumbers on the best way to repair a faucet.

Saran Chatterjee, CEO of Housejoy stated, “We are also planning to have customised training modules for our service providers. Much of quality is also on reaffirmation of processes. We need to keep stressing on how to do a particular job. We would feel extremely satisfied if we ensure that 100 percent of our servicemen reach the homes of the customers at the exact said time.”
Many home services startups have been in the limelight over the past year, attracting the attention of investors as well as customers by bringing together a fragmented market evaluated at $100 billion (Rs 6.6 lakh crore) in India. However, the space is getting contested and is ready for a round of consolidation leaving aside not more than two-three large companies. This implies that the startups have to pace up towards a maturing phase to sustain.

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