In this rough economy, a Redmond-based business is offering home improvement contractors sure ways to sell products and services, while also helping homeowners get savings and know-how.
Homeowners Cooperative (www.homeownerscoop.com) provides an online directory of licensed, insured, bonded and pre-screened contractors in every area of home building, remodeling or maintenance. That includes roofers, plumbers, electricians, engineers, architects, etc.
Homeowners pay an annual fee of $95 for a Green Hammer membership which gives them unlimited access to the directory during that timeframe and 10 to 30 percent off all services or supplies. A three-month membership with the same benefits costs $29.99.
The advantage for participating contractors is that they don’t have to pay for their sales leads.
Meanwhile, Homeowners Cooperative president Lacy S. Wilkinson said he’s confident that customers will like what they get in return for their membership.
He said he looks for contractors “who’ve been in business a good number of years and have good track records. Everyone makes mistakes, but it’s how you handle it. We get homeowners referring people they’ve worked with, give homeowners a way to search by ratings, proximity and service … and we provide suppliers such as lumber stores, tile stores, paint stores, so do-it-yourselfers can get preferred pricing, too.”
Wilkinson noted, “You can go on the Internet and get deals (on home improvement products) but return policies can be a problem or you may need advice on how to install it. We’re offering industry professionals who are locally based. We represent over 130 resources and over 1,000 people in the building industries.”
A forum section of Homeowners Cooperative is an “interchange of consumers talking to contractors,” Wilkinson added. “It’s a way for them to generate more business.”
A resource page includes links to government programs such as rebates or grants to make your home more energy-efficient or to retrofit it for earthquake preparedness, he said.
There are also links to home and garden magazines and a “Hot Deal” section. If a supplier ordered too much of something and wants to sell it quickly, he or she can offer Homeowners Cooperative members a special price.
Last but not least, said Wilkinson, there’s a comment area where members can rate the vendors.
Wilkinson has spent 20 years in the remodeling business and said the idea for Homeowners Cooperative came to him about two years ago.
“At that time, people were saying, ‘Why discount things if I have good business?’,” he said.
Then the recession hit, leaving both consumers and contractors in the dust.
“A community feeling has been growing, I think. … There’s more sentiment now about helping each other out,” Wilkinson reasoned.
He remembered his great-grandfather talking about the pre-Depression era and how he and a neighbor had plowed other people’s land in exchange for some of their crops, a chicken or various services.
“They all worked together in a very mutually beneficial system,” said Wilkinson.
That model can certainly work today, too, he said.
“Homeowners have the work. Contractors have the expertise and supplies to take care of your home,” Wilkinson stated.
And because this is a cooperative arrangement, contractors and suppliers must have more accountability.
“You’re not just an individual homeowner, you’re a member of a group. It changes the dynamic,” he concluded.
For more information about Homeowners Cooperative, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (425) 269-4125.