Fixington is an online booking service for tradesmen. It is powered by a calendar and billing app which we have already distributed to thousands of tradesmen around the UK. Tradesmen use the app to manage their existing work, but can also share their availability with us so we can send online bookings direct to their phones.
There are lots of highly skilled tradesmen who work for themselves but find lots of their time is spent doing paperwork and marketing. The best tradesmen are not always the best at paperwork, which creates frustration for them and their customers.
We want tradesmen to enjoy a steady stream of work, and not have to worry about all the marketing and scheduling and payment processing which can eat up so much of their time. And we want householders to enjoy the convenience of live online booking and convenient payment processing.
Fixington will perform all the functions of a traditional maintenance firm but intend to do it on a national scale: marketing, taking bookings, payment processing and so on, but using technology rather than an office full of people.
We’ll allow the best tradesmen to stay busy and unburdened by paperwork and free from the restrictions of a traditional employer. We’ll allow consumers to book a great local tradesman directly without playing phone-tag or getting out their chequebook.
Substantial accomplishments to date
We’ve been providing a great little calendar and invoicing app to tradesmen for the past year or so. Tradesmen love it, and hundreds of them use it already to manage their existing work.
So we have a large and growing network of tradesmen around the UK whose availability and location we know. We can therefore take online bookings for them, and send the work directly to their phone.
We have built the first iteration of an online booking system and have processed a handful of real bookings. We need this funding round to finance some tactical consumer marketing in those areas where we have tradesmen ready to accept bookings.
Our team includes Bruce Greig who founded 0800handyman in 2001 (sold to Dyno-Rod family in 2007) and KeepMeBooked in 2009 (sold to HouseTrip in 2012); and is led by Chris Shepherd who has held lead product roles at Tesco and BBC.
We will act as an introducer, connecting householders with tradesmen. We will retain a proportion of the value of each booking.
Because of the inherent inefficiency in the industry now, this is a win-win situation for both tradesman and consumer.
Here's why: if a tradesman works independently, he has to spend a lot of his time juggling phone calls and handling paperwork. Time he'd rather be spending on the tools.
If he works for a well-managed local firm he'll be kept busy and mostly freed from paperwork, but up to half of what he bills could be eaten up in the firm’s admin costs. Scheduling tradesmen over the phone, and chasing invoices and so on is time-consuming and expensive.
We consider that there’s a huge opportunity for a tech business like Fixington to make everything more efficient. Fixington will allow independent tradesmen to stay as busy as if they had the scheduling and marketing backup that an employer provides, but much more efficiently and without the downsides of having a boss.
And the consumer benefits from having a more streamlined booking process, and some of the efficiency savings will be passed on as lower prices too.
Use of proceeds
We intend to use the proceeds of this round over the coming 12 months to expand our bookings service. This will help balance our marketplace and optimise our product. We would expect to raise a larger round of financing after this.
We aim to spend our funding on:
- We need to continue to improve our free app for tradesmen and make it even more useful to them, to attract more independent tradesmen into our network
- We need to fund continued optimisation of the online booking process
- We need to recruit more tradesmen in targeted regions for an expanded launch in those areas
- We need to experiment and optimise our customer marketing to bring acquisition costs down and plan for repeat business
The Company currently has a £5,000 interest free director loan. None of the funds raised will be used to pay this loan.
Our target market is the home improvement and repair market, typically jobs under £500. This market alone is worth £14bn, and places us in a good position to expand into the larger sized job market and internationally.
Smaller jobs can generally be booked online either at a fixed price or on an hourly rate, without the need for a complex quoting process.
We are starting off in the UK, but the problem we are solving exists in Europe and USA too, and we do plan to expand internationally once we are established in the UK.
Characteristics of target market
The market size of small (less than £500) home improvement and repair jobs is roughly £14bn in the UK.
Building brand awareness in this sector is undoubtedly difficult. We feel that there are very few national brands in this sector, just Dyno-Rod, British Gas and HomeServe.
We expect that we will only have to market ourselves a little bit more effectively than the next guy to win a job. Independent tradesmen generally don't have the skills, time or inclination to market themselves effectively. We can do it for them, more cheaply and effectively.
This combined with a far better booking experience and service for customers, means that repeat business would be much more likely.
Existing online services are either lead-generation businesses or directory sites. They allow consumers to contact a tradesman, but the tradesman still has to complete the booking by phone. Regarding the lead-generation model (e.g. RatedPeople), we have found that many tradesmen resent paying upfront for a lead which might not convert to a job. These services have been around for over ten years, but still represent only a tiny share of the total market. Their fees are equivalent to about 3% of the value of the job, which we believe may not be enough to cover the marketing cost of acquiring that job in the first place.
There are some newer startups offering something similar to Fixington, but we believe that they don't have the network and industry experience that we have.