Angie Hicks was 22 when she co-founded Angie's List, www.angieslist.com, her now famous Internet consumer reporting service that helps homeowners find trusted service companies in their area.
REPLACEMENT CONTRACTOR: Why is the list so popular?
ANGIE HICKS: Consumers are naturally inclined to turn to the Internet for information. On Angie's List, you can get the type of information you'd get from a friend or neighbor over the backyard fence, only faster.
RC: How can home improvement contractors benefit from being on the list?
AH: I've seen companies grow from one-man shops to multiple crews, using Angie's List. If they provide good service, it's a way to magnify their word of mouth.
RC: What if a company gets a negative review?
AH: One review isn't going to make or break a company's rating. A rating is the average of all the reports. That's why we let consumers see all the reports as well as company responses.
RC: What if a member posts a negative report on a contractor and that contractor is unaware of it?
AH: We notify a company when they get their first report. After that they can check their reports any time. We also tell them how they can sign up and get regular alerts, via e-mail, so they know when a new report is posted.
RC: Let's say a contractor receives several bad reports and ends up rated a ‘D' or an ‘F'. How do they reverse that?
AH: The current rating is an average of reports received in the course of the last two years. So, on the one hand, they can't rest forever on what they did, but on the other hand, they won't be forever penalized.
RC: How many contractors or companies actually respond to their reports?
AH: We get responses to 10% to 15% of the reports that come in, both bad and good.
RC: If a member gives a company an ‘F' rating because they don't like its prices, how do you handle that?
AH: We don't allow people to rate a company on price. If you called and asked what it would cost to get a water heater fixed and the only thing you put in your report was the price, we wouldn't take the report. If price is part of the experience, that's another matter.
RC: How do you screen for companies getting onto the list with pseudonyms to slam competitors?
AH: It's less likely to be one company reporting badly on its competitor than it is a company trying to submit a report about itself.