How to Win New Business on Zaarly.com
Two years ago, Kari Tibbetts and Sean Kellerman, a married couple living in Kansas City, Mo., were feeling pretty low. Within six months of one another, Tibbetts, a teacher, and Kellerman, a finance professional, were both laid off. In their 40s and without an income, the pair scrambled to make ends meet by picking up tasks around the community such as cleaning, power washing and refinishing furniture, eventually incorporating their own professional services company, Mr. and Mrs. Odd Jobs.
In March 2011, Tibbetts spotted a news story about Zaarly, a San Francisco-based technology startup designed to facilitate local buying and selling. The article explained that business owners could use the site to capture new leads and buyers could find things to purchase.
Tibbetts immediately logged onto Zaarly and signed up to receive alerts from persons in the Kansas City area in need of her company’s services. A few weeks later, she and Kellerman showed up at their first job: a man who needed brush cleared out from his driveway.
Pulling up to his house, the couple was a little hesitant, but soon was put at ease by the man’s friendly demeanor. Money did not exchange hands (all payments are facilitated through Zaarly’s online platform; the company takes a cut of each transaction), and at the end of the assignment Tibbetts and Kellerman were shocked to learn something about their client.
“It was Bo Fishback, co-founder of Zaarly,” Tibbetts says. “We couldn’t believe it and didn’t know he had a home here. He asked us questions about the service and now whenever he needs help around the house, he calls us.”
To date, Tibbetts and Kellerman have used the service around 15 times and plan to use it long into the future. Tibbetts says “the site has been tremendously helpful in growing our business,” and she checks local requests for handyman help on her smart phone daily. Even though Mr. and Mrs. Odd Jobs doesn’t win every bid, the site doubles as a marketing tool, broadcasting the company’s logo and profile to each person requesting help.
Using the application
Zaarly is a runaway technology success story. The company launched in mid-May 2011 and today has $15 million in funding and 39 employees in its San Francisco office. According to Eric Koester, co-founder and CMO, more than 50,000 small businesses are signed up and using the service to capture new business.
Here are a few ways to make your company stand out.
Pay attention to your profile. Fill out your profile and include a photo. Buyers want to know that they are doing business with a person, not just a brand, says Koester, adding that the likelihood of being chosen doubles when photos are included.
Respond with care. Each time a qualified alert crosses your screen, respond with more than 100 characters, he adds. The more descriptive you are in explaining how your company can help, the more likely that you will get a response.
Be open-minded. Think that just because you own a restaurant in a downtown district, you don’t have a need for Zaarly? Think again.
“Check to see if people are looking for catering or food delivery,” Tibbetts says. “Look at new services you could add to your business. Be creative and let the site work for you.”
Use often. The more ratings and reviews you have, the more likely your company will be chosen.
Focus on customer service. It pays to be creative and customer-oriented, especially when you are be competing with multiple companies for one job.
“One woman posted that she needed a ride to the airport and within an hour she had eight people offering to drive her,” Koester says. “The person that won offered to bring her breakfast as an extra bonus. It is that personal touch that got him the job.”
Have you used Zaarly? What’s been your experience?