When Jorey Ramer bought his own home after renting for several years, he suddenly realized how painful homeownership can be for people not accustomed to the vagaries of maintenance and upkeep.
“I wanted to recapture my rental experience, but still enjoy my home equity,” Ramer said. So this young tech exec did exactly that with a new subscription-based service called Super that he hopes will change the traditional relationship homeowners have with contractors.
“Homeownership is too painful, too expensive and too unpredictable,” said Ramer, founder and CEO of Super. “What we’re about is providing a great customer experience.”
Whether that service is good for contractors remains to be seen said industry watchers. “Marketing, customer identification, and recruitment is not the fun part of the job for most contractors,” said Kermit Baker, Program Director for Remodeling Studies with the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. “But this is taking it to a whole new level. They don’t control the project anymore.”
Ramer said for the right contractor, that’s the beauty of his new service. “We are doing the customer acquisition. We’re doing the marketing. We’re building the customer base,” he said. “There’s nothing contractors need to do other than a great job.”
So far, the service is only available in Washington, D.C. But Ramer said he already has a national waiting list of clients ready to sign up. He hopes to expand the service throughout the East and West coasts as well as the Midwest. “In 2016 we’ll definitely be in new markets,” he said.
Those who sign up for Super can choose from three monthly subscriptions: $20 for Appliance, $60 for Whole Home and $120 for Premium Home.
All plans include:
- Repair/replace major appliances
- Maintenance schedule with optional help
- Concierge to coordinate home service needs
Whole Home and Premium Home plans include:
- Repair/replace major appliance and systems
- Maintenance walk-through
With the Premium Home plan there’s no co-pay per repair. (The other two plans require a $50 co-pay.)
The concierge service included with all the plans covers a number of replacement contracting work including: handyman, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, and gutter cleaning
On first blush, Baker said the service seems to dovetail with current consumer trends as well as two key demographics: millennials and aging baby boomers. “This appeals to folks who aren’t around to manage these things,” he said. “It appeals to any group with multiple wage earners in the household and limited time to sort this stuff out. It’s also attractive to seniors who are less adept at sorting out this marketplace.”
Ramer contends his service stands out from the online review-focused sites such as Angie’s List and Yelp. But the ultimate success of the service will still come down to how well Ramer and company vet contractors, says Robert Criner, president of Criner Remodeling.
In the face of this new competition, Criner says contractors still have plenty of weapons they can use to protect their business. “They have to differentiate themselves from a computer model,” Criner said. “And the one thing they have going for them is personal relationships—as well as their craft.”