The next time you need a plumber or roofer, Rusty Brett wants your fingers to do the walking — just not through the Yellow Pages. He’d rather you use your keyboard to log onto his new website.
Brett is president and founder of servicenoodle.com, a website launched this month. The company’s physical location: 302 Campus View Drive.
“While sites like EBay or Amazon offer tangible goods, we offer a site strictly for services,” Brett said. “If you need an electrician, a babysitter or a roofer, we try to have a solution for you on our website.”
On the home page, type in a service you need and your hometown, and you’ll come up with a directory of nearby providers. After creating an account, you can send a message to any or all of the companies that describes exactly what service you need, how quickly you need it done and whether you want the work done during or after normal business hours. You also can choose the range of prices you are willing to pay.
Providers can then respond, or “noodle,” directly to you as to their interest and availability by using your preferred communication method: e-mail, phone or private “noodle” page.
Brett said the idea came to him a few years ago. “It seemed like many times my to-do list was compiled in the evenings and on weekends without a way to get it accomplished,” he said. “I wanted to create a site that answered the question, ‘Who can meet my specific service request on my schedule?’ And I wanted to (be able to ask the question) any time, day or night.”
What makes servicenoodle.com different from the Yellow Pages, he said, is its interactivity.
Servicenoodle.com does not get involved in prices or other negotiations for services. It acts only as an interactive middleman getting people together, Brett said. “We want customers to be able to talk to service suppliers.”
Matt Donnelly is the sales manager, Mark Nienheuser is the sales trainer, and Kate Holman is the accounting manager. The company also employs two programmers and a search engine optimizer, along with 23 sales representatives who work primarily on commission.
For consumers, the service is free. “No obligation, which is one thing we harp on,” Brett said. “Customers don’t have to do business with anyone.”
Service providers pay an annual, upfront fee. “Advertising can be expensive,” he said. “We offer a very competitive entry to advertise their service.” The annual fee starts at $275.
The service providers set up and maintain their own profiles on the website. They can edit them at any time and post up to 20 photographs.
“We have some big names like Hy-Vee all the way down to small shoe repair and clock shops,” Brett said. “People are thanking us for the opportunity to tell customers who they are. They now have an affordable option.”
Midway Electric and its affiliated company, Midway CSI, joined servicenoodle.com, which President Michelle Spry called an important and inexpensive decision.
“What I like about it is that I have the flexibility to change on a daily basis to accommodate either one of our businesses,” she said. “I think it is great tool for people to go to one site and find whatever it is they are looking for.”
The company and each service provider know how often the providers’ websites are searched, how many times the profile is viewed and how many “noodle” requests are received, Brett said.
“We can tell all these things, and at the pricing point we are talking about, for most services one job for a provider (that comes through servicenoodle.com), and it has paid for itself,” he said.
The site also offers what Brett calls obscure listings, such as a laborer for a day, tennis lessons, gutter cleaning, farm hand for a day and tutoring.
“Everyone wants an immediate satisfaction; they want an immediate answer,” Brett said. “This is the way to do it. It can be 10 o’clock or midnight, and you can’t call them. Their doors are closed, but you certainly can send them a request.”
The software program for servicenoodle.com was built from scratch, Brett said. “We are still building our site. We want to make it as simple as possible to use.”
A second feature on the website is servicenoodle.com25. It is aimed at college students who want to start their own sites and create profiles. The annual cost is $25.
“This is where we get the listings for assembly assistance, babysitting, bartending, errand runner, housecleaning, part-time college-kid type help,” Brett said. “This is more what you might call the amateur section.”
Brett, a native of Mexico, Mo., does not have a technical background. He is an MU graduate in general studies who worked at the Gallaher Insurance Group from 1996 until this year.
“I realized then just how expensive it was to showcase who we were,” he said. “I wanted an affordable option and figured if I was interested in that, then other businessmen would also be interested.”
Brett hopes to expand the company statewide by July and eventually go national. He said his site is the only one he has found that has such interaction between customer and service provider. “We are a one-stop shop for customer service needs,” he said.