Home Depot testing new installed services model

Home Depot is piloting different versions of a contractor-homeowner referral service in four different markets after quietly acquiring Redbeacon.com last January, according to an article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Redbeacon.com’s matchmaking service, similar to Angie’s List except that it’s free to consumers, does background checks on plumbers, electricians and other pros who join up. Consumers post the details of their home improvement jobs, and Redbeacon sends the names of three potential service providers. Homeowners then deal directly with the contractors, although Home Depot stands behind their work.

Home Depot, which declined to comment for this article, is tweaking the arrangement in four test markets: Atlanta; San Francisco; Dallas; and Austin, Texas. Variations involve ways of getting contractors to participate, and more importantly, shop for supplies at Home Depot stores. One pilot uses a point reward system, while another charges a flat monthly fee of $19.99 to be part of the referral network.

"Our hope, plan, desire is that they'll be more loyal to Home Depot in terms of shopping there," Anthony Rodio, Redbeacon's CEO, told the newspaper. "We want to drive pro loyalty through giving them their next job."

Redbeacon.com shows no affiliation with Home Depot on its website, although its Atlanta parent company plans to make the service more visible through advertisements and in-store promotions, according to the article.