- New service provides expert advice and templated designs
- Value of jobs completed sees significant increase
ON-DEMAND service platform Recommend.my has gone through some significant changes and growth since it started in 2014.
Digital News Asia previously reported in November 2016 that RecomN.com, as it was then named, was among the top three in Malaysia, the biggest on-demand services platform in Indonesia (where it is called Sejasa.com) and had plans to expand further into Southeast Asia.
At that time, founders Jes Min Lua, Alex Tan and Anthony Eka Wijaya were transitioning the business model from one where service professionals buy credits and are charged each time they book a job to one where customers are charged directly and the service professionals are paid once the job is complete.
The transition from the Grab-type model has been successful, with the platform recording increasingly higher numbers of jobs booked and completed.
The platform was launched in Thailand as Helpdee.com early this year, the Malaysian website was rebranded and relaunched as Recommend.my in May and was launched in Singapore in July.
Easier, more efficient for customers
Recommend recently launched a new service called Home Improvement Centre of Expertise (COE), which, Lua says, is the first of its kind in Southeast Asia and will complement the platform’s already existing marketplace and on-demand home services.
The Home Improvement COE is basically a concierge service for customers who want home improvement or renovation work done on their properties.
The COE consists of a team of expert interior designers and project managers who is able to advice customers on materials, pricing, quality of products and how to work with contractors and match the job with the right interior designer depending on what kind of design the customer is looking for.
For smaller jobs, Recommend provides a free site visit so that the expert can draft plans and work out requirements for the job.
The project is then tendered to three competitive bidders from Recommend’s panel of service professionals, which means customers obtain three quotations they can compare side-by-side.
Recommend also provides escrow services to manage payments from customers to the service professionals.
Lua explains that when customers use the platform’s payment service RecommendPay, Recommend only releases payment to the contractor as each phase of the job is completed to the customer’s satisfaction.
Using RecommendPay also means that the job is insured and the customer is protected from damage, theft and certain liabilities.
A unique service Recommend provides is templated designs that can be customised for each customer.
Lua explains that Recommend has bought a range of designs for different areas of a home from interior designers. Customers can choose the design that appeals to them and the Recommend COE team will advise on how the design can be customised and installed into the customer’s space, what materials can be used and how much the project will cost.
“We don’t charge anything for the design, only for customisation and installation. In that sense, the customer can save a few thousand ringgit that would otherwise be spent on the design. This way, our customers can get good designs at a lower cost,” says Lua.
Refocusing on bigger things
Lua says that she does not consider this new focus on home improvement projects a move away from Recommend’s model of on-demand services but rather a verticalisation – a refocusing on one vertical so that Recommend can go deeper into solving the problems in the industry.
“We are trying to make things more efficient, match designers and customers better, get people the designs they want faster. We are still using technology and digital marketing to get our leads and leveraging on the same base of service professionals,” she says.
She does admit that the refocus serves to further differentiate Recommend from its two major competitors ServisHero and Kaodim.
Recommend already receives more bookings for large projects, in particular renovations and interior design jobs, than for other small on-demand services such as home maintenance (cleaning or repair services, for example) or event planning.
“Unlike our competitors, we’ve always been more focused on the large-value jobs. We realised that our ability to monetise them and the margins we get are much better,” says Lua.
While the COE service is completely free for the customer – only the actual renovation and installation job is paid for – Recommend receives a small percentage of the payment for the job as a commission from the contractor.
There were about US$3 million (RM12.66 million) worth of jobs, both big and small, booked on the platform in January this year, and about US$8 million worth in July.
Currently, about US$2.5 million worth of jobs across the region are closed per month, with Recommend seeing a tremendous increase in the value of closed jobs since the launch of the COE. (US$1 = RM4.22)
“About 20% of the jobs account for 80% of the value,” explains Lua.
Recommend saw a record revenue growth in September after the launch.
Lua declined to reveal actual monetary numbers but said that revenue grew four times from July last year to July this year, and grew 12 times in the 18 months to September this year.
Recommend has received positive feedback from customers and business peers as it improves its business model.
“We put so much blood and sweat to achieve that increase in revenue, but the hard work was definitely worth it,” says Lua.
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