It’s bad enough when one of your home appliances — say your aircon — spoils, but to add to the pain, you now have to go through an arduous search for a fix. For example, two of the aircons and one of the light fixtures in my house have gone unrepaired for years, simply because my family decided it was easier to live with it than search for contractors and face high charges (we’re also saving a small fortune in electricity bills).
But living with it isn’t exactly a great solution, and if a new homegrown startup has its way, putting up with laborious service vendor searches won’t need to be an option at all. Local entrepreneurs Fabian Lim, Ho Boon Peng, Tan Jian Yong and Jamie Lee channelled two years and $500,000 of their own money into building PageAdvisor, a mobile app that aims to radically change the way we hire home service providers.
Through PageAdvisor, consumers can gain access to more than 1,400 registered service providers from over 100 specialised services. From handymen like electricians and plumbers to lifestyle providers like home spa therapists and private chefs, this app boasts them all — there’s even an upcoming service for durian delivery. It’s easy to envision that this first-of-its-kind, one-stop app can hugely simplify the way we search for quick home fixes when we need them.
So how does PageAdvisor work? Essentially, those looking for a particular service will need to answer a short set of questions regarding their requirements — job scope, budget, preferred time slots and so forth. Once you hit send, you can sit back and relax while service providers submit quotes to bid for the job.
You might be wondering how long it takes to secure a service confirmation, and the answer is: within minutes. We got the opportunity to see a live demo of PageAdvisor with founder and CEO Fabian, and by the six-minute mark, three companies had submitted quotes in response to a request for a photographer. In comparison to Googling for service providers and calling them up one by one, searching for a provider via PageAdvisor seems unbelievably speedy and convenient.
Next to speed, safety is probably the most important thing that we’d love guaranteed in a service provider — we’ve all heard horror stories of people being conned by handymen in their own homes. And PageAdvisor delivers on that front, with a dizzying slew of features aimed at making sure we get merchants that we can trust. Before accepting a quote, for example, customers will be able to sort through ratings and reviews — contributed by past users — of each service provider bidding for the job. The app also comes with an enhanced PIN security feature, comprising a 4-digit code that you and your service provider will key in before you open your door to a stranger.
The inspiration behind PageAdvisor, Fabian revealed, was sparked by this very issue of reliability, or lack thereof. He related his — or rather, his mother-in-law’s — bad encounter with a home service vendor last year: a repairman arrived at his mother-in-law’s house and began fixing things that didn’t appear to need repair — instead of the one he was meant to patch up. And when his mother-in-law refused to pay, Fabian says, the man “took off his shirt and said, I just came from prison, you want to pay or not?”
Through PageAdvisor’s Merchant Guarantee Programme (MGP), you won’t have to foot the bill if you have the misfortune of experiencing unsavoury vendors — service providers registered under the MGP will offer a 100% money back guarantee.
The icing on the cake might be that PageAdvisor has the potential to bolster startups and SME service providers, an issue that’s always close to our hearts. According to Mr Inderjit Singh, MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC and advisor to PageAdvisor, the app might just help small enterprises by giving them ready access to a pool of consumers — with good customer reviews and attractive quotes, startups can effectively market themselves at little cost.
The PageAdvisor app is now available for Android and iOS. If you still need an incentive to try out the app, PageAdvisor is planning to give first-time users a rebate of up to $20 on their first transaction, for jobs confirmed by 31 May.
Following its debut in Singapore, PageAdvisor will be launching in Malaysia within the next few weeks, with the aim of amassing 15 million users in Asia Pacific by 2019.