Finding the right professional for home improvement projects isn’t exactly easy and most homeowners are pretty anxious about who gets to work on their homes. That’s why Angie’s List can charge for its service, for example. Many homeowners, however, also ask for recommendations in the stores they shop at already. Porch.com, a four-month-old startup that aggregates data about home improvement projects all around the U.S., just announced a multi-year strategic partnership with Lowe’s that will put it in the hands of Lowe’s employees in 139 stores in the Seattle area, as well as North and South Carolina.
Thanks to this partnership, Porch .com CEO Matt Ehrlichman told me, Lowe’s employees will now use Porch.com to recommend local handymen, landscapers, roofers, contractors and other professionals to shoppers. Every day, Ehrlichman said, shoppers ask employees for these kinds of recommendations as they shop, but outside of a few well-defined projects like carpet installs, the company couldn’t really make any reliable information available to its customers.
With Porch.com, Lowe’s employees can now see which contractors know a certain neighborhood well and how people have rated them. If a customer needs a professional for a service that Lowe’s doesn’t offer, the employees will bring up Porch on their mobile devices or on in-store terminals and provide shoppers with a few recommendations. Lowe’s will also put up signage across participating stores.
This is a very big deal for Porch, says Ehrlichman, especially given how young the company is. Lowe’s did $50.5 billion in sales in 2012 after all, and serves about 15 million customers per week in more than 1,800 stores. Not only will this bring Porch to a wide variety of new potential users, but professionals will also have an extra incentive to sign up for the service.
Porch currently features about 90 million projects in its database, and while Ehrlichman wouldn’t provide any concrete usage numbers, he did note that the company is “off to a great start and growing exceptionally quickly.” The company has also ramped up its staffing from 25 employees at launch to about 80 people right now.