ServiceMagic - the EBay of Home Services
One of my favorite internet companies is ServiceMagic (part of Interactive Corp) - they've been in business for 4-5 years now and help consumers and home services providers find each other. In the last 24 months I've used them to find someone to
-replace my garage roof after a fire
-haul debris to the dump
-paint the inside of the house
-replace broken glass
-fix a broken washer/dryer
-tear out and lay a new driveway
-replace an 80-year-old sewer line to the street
-design an upstairs addition
Most people find ServiceMagic when doing a home services-related search on Google or Yahoo, and from there the process is simple: you fill out a 1-page form describing the project and when you want to start it, and then ServiceMagic forwards your project to a number of local, pre-screened service providers for that category. The service providers tend to be better than average in terms of customer service. They get the leads sent to their pagers, cell phones, via email or fax and respond quickly.
Interestingly, whenever I've had one of the service providers over to my house to do the work, I ask them what % of their business they get from ServiceMagic and they typically say 30-90%.
30-90%. To me that is the sign of a huge business. As far as I can tell they have very little competition at the national level, and charge a much more reasonable fee per lead than these local providers pay to the yellow pages or newspaper classified depts.
What's most exciting about them, IMO, is their very advanced and thorough use of Google and Yahoo Search as sources of traffic. You'd be hard pressed to do a home services-related search and not find them in the results.
That's my kind of Web 2.0 business, and one I think will emerge as a major Internet powerhouse.