The joys of owning a home can quickly be extinguished when the first signs of a repair require one to call a handyman. When renting, life was a little easier: If something broke, the super or landlord fixed it. However, once people own a home, spending the time and money to repair things around the home falls to them. A new subscription-based service is designed to make that process a little easier for the homeowner and for the contractor.
Super (hellosuper.com) Founder and CEO Jorey Ramer was inspired to create the service after experiencing all the frustrated feelings of new homeownership when he moved to California. “It takes time, money, and is too unpredictable, “ Ramer tells Remodeling. “I wanted to enjoy my home and equity and I didn’t want all the pains of homeownership.”
To remove that stress, Ramer founded Super, a concierge service for homeowners to make repairs and set up equipment. Subscribers book covered repairs and maintenance directly through the site, and to make it easier on contractors and homeowners, Super handles individual payment to the service providers that are dispatched.
Users of Super can sign up for one of three subscription levels, priced at $25, $75, and $150 per month. The $25 level is aimed at condo owners, whereas the most popular, $75 level is for a whole home, including appliances, plumbing, electrical, heating, and hot water systems.
Subscribers of the two less expensive plans pay a co-pay up to $50 at time of service, which never varies no matter the type of job or repair. The rate of a co-pay is determined between Super and the service provider to ensure trustworthiness and fair charges. The co-pay is waived for Premium plan subscribers.
When a homeowner first signs up for Super, the company provides a maintenance schedule with guidelines on routine care like changing the air filters or cleaning the gutters. Under the Whole Home and Premium plans, Super will schedule a maintenance walk-through to assess the home. This way, when a repair is needed, Super already has a profile of the home on file and knows what specific equipment or appliances are needed. When a service provider is dispatched, they can arrive sooner and with the necessary tools and equipment.
After the walk-through, Super shares the information it has gathered and advises on how to best maintain the home.
“We are doing the work for the service provider to acquire customers and the service provider doesn’t have to pay us to do this. We pay them to do work,” Ramer says. “At the end of the day we are trying to make a service provider’s work easier so they can focus on what they do best, rather than other distractions.”
Compiling data from available rating sites before any initial engagement with a client, Super speaks with potential contractors to understand how they operate their business. Super then conducts a screening process by measuring a contractor’s performance, which includes factors such as on-time arrival, rates, and how much time it takes to fix something. Then, Super measures that against their own proprietary customer satisfaction rating scores that are given through the subscription service. "Using our mobile technologies, we have better visibility into operational details than what a consumer would ever find on a ratings website,” Ramos says.
Currently, Super is only available in the Washington, D.C., area. Ramer chose to pilot the program in the D.C. area because it is representative of homeowners nationwide. “We chose D.C. for a variety of metrics: size of markets, density, technical community that would be adopters, diversity, and climate,” Ramer says. “We wanted to make sure we were testing out the service in the wintertime when people have issues with heating systems and then in the summer when people have issues with the AC. We wanted something that was representative of all climates.”
Superwants to expand to other markets once it gains more traction in the Washington, D.C., area. The company’s approach makes use of America’s on-demand economy, which will no doubt appeal to some homeowners. But its ultimate success will likely come down to its contractor vetting process, 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.”
Additional reporting for this story was contributed by Gary Thill