Consumers turning to Web for more home improvements

PALO ALTO, CALIF. Consumers increasingly are using the Internet to find and connect with local contractors and home-improvement specialists, according to new data released by Respond Networks. The latest findings indicate that consumers are increasingly going online to request quotes for high-dollar, often complex home-improvement services where trust and personal attention from the contractor are

PALO ALTO, CALIF. — Consumers increasingly are using the Internet to find and connect with local contractors and home-improvement specialists, according to new data released by Respond Networks.

The latest findings indicate that consumers are increasingly going online to request quotes for high-dollar, often complex home-improvement services where trust and personal attention from the contractor are critical. The high level of activity in this category underscores the ongoing increase in consumer comfort and confidence in the Internet for connecting with even the most complex, high-dollar service-based businesses.

Key findings include:

-The average online request for home improvement services is valued at about $9,000;

-The median “general contracting” category request is worth more than $25,000; and

-Overall home-improvement activity in the Respond Networks has increased dramatically in recent months — the number of home-improvement requests in the Respond Networks between March and June 2002 increased 163%.

Respond’s analysis is drawn from its broad network of buyers, sellers and partners, which combined reach nearly 50% of the Internet audience on a monthly basis. Respond Networks is a leading developer and provider of request-for-quote services that connect buyers and businesses.

Respond’s lead management solutions enable directory publishers, associations and portals to create private-labeled services that connect small businesses with purchase-ready buyers from their own customer base or from Respond’s extensive network.

“Finding service providers is an important part of a consumer’s everyday life,” said Lyn Chitow Oakes, president and CEO of Respond Networks. “The rapid growth in requests for home-improvement services within our network is a clear indication that consumers are increasingly comfortable turning to the Web for conducting complex transactions. This is one of several markets where we’ve seen strong adoption of the RFQ service in recent months.”

Kurt Reuss, CEO of Contractor.com, added: “Respond’s RFQ solution is an effective solution for the home-improvement market because it gives consumers the ability to very quickly gather multiple bids for complex, often high-dollar services and enables contractors to cost-effectively attract new customers that are serious about their particular service. As consumers’ confidence in online services continues to grow, savvy contractors everywhere are moving a larger percentage of their marketing budget toward online marketing strategies.”

A consumer using the Respond Networks describes her experience as follows:

“I recently decided to remodel my bathroom and garage. I had a budget range of $25,000 to $50,000 and a lot of complex requirements with regard to the improvements. I needed a contractor who could meet my budget requirements and, at the same time, provide the specialized services my job required. I went online, outlined my request, and in just a few hours received several bids from contractors in my area. Within days, I had selected my contractor and my remodeling project was underway. Given the complexity of my request and my need to review multiple bids, it could have taken weeks to make the decision without Respond.”

Respond Networks provides technology solutions to help local businesses connect with purchase-ready buyers, convert leads to sales and maximize the value of customer relationships, the company said. Respond noted that its lead management solutions enable directory publishers, media enterprises and portals to create private-labeled services that connect small businesses with purchase-ready buyers from their own customer base or from Respond’s network of more than 50 partners. This network includes InfoSpace, Lycos, Martindale-Hubbell, QwestDex, VeriSign and Verizon, and has facilitated more than 1.5 million online buying requests to date, according to the company.