Home improvement contractors get their digital fix

by Son Huynh


ReferralBuzzBeing a home owner is tough enough in this current economy and finding contractors to do home improvements or remodeling shouldn’t have to stress you out even more. Finding a home service provider you know, like and trust can be daunting, but local Minneapolis startup ReferralBuzz might have the answer to your woes.

There are a vast number of review sites that provide information and feedback on potential providers. But exactly how much confidence can you put into anonymous Internet reviews? After all, most review sites let just about anybody post a review. Even sites like Angie’s list, who promotes that reviews “come from real people like you,” aren’t entirely useful if you’re looking to get firsthand feedback from people you both know and trust.

With ReferralBuzz, you’re not getting recommendations from anonymous Internet users, you’re getting real time approval  from people in your social network. “ReferralBuzz isn’t about garnering reviews and ratings for businesses, it’s about providing an easy way to share referrals between friends and neighbors,” according to Lisa Schneegans, Co-founder and President of ReferralBuzz, “the core focus is referrals and referrals should come from people you trust.”

Lisa and her partner, Klaus Schneegans, previously sold Praxis Software Solutions, publisher of NetPoint Commerce and NetPoint CRM, to SAP AG in 2006. After that sale, they spent some time in the real estate investment/rehab business and identified the need for a simple and painless way of finding trustworthy providers.

“Most home contractors, while skilled at their craft, do not devote the time or resources to marketing or formalizing their referral systems. ReferralBuzz provides contractors with an easy way to combine their craft with word of mouth  in order to establish an online presence and leverage their referral network,” Schneegans says.

Businesses who register to become a provider on the site, pay $70/month, which allows them to showcase their projects and once the projects are in ReferralBuzz, homeowners are automatically asked for a social referral. For home owners, when they log on to the site through a Facebook account, they can see providers and projects that their friends have liked and recommended. Providing detailed feedback is only allowed if a provider directly requests a referral for a project, ensuring that the feedback is written by somebody who’s previously worked with the provider.

Family-owned and operated, ReferralBuzz is staffed by four people and has been live for less than three months. With over sixty providers already on the site, their target is to enlist 1000 providers by the end of first operational year and become the go-to source for finding trustworthy home contractors within the Twin Cities and beyond.


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