A college friendship and a parent’s problems with finding reliable repair services led an Ahwatukee man and twin brothers to create an online contractor galley they say provides more reliable than more celebrated directories, including Angie’s List.
Ahmad Saleem, a 16-year Ahwatukee resident, and brothers Brian and Brad Scruggs, say their company, Great Pros, connects homeowners with home-service contractors who are bonded, licensed, insured. They also have gone through a deeper background check than similar directories.
“We have an exclusive partnership with the Better Business Bureau in Phoenix, and have been getting increasingly more traction,” Brad Scruggs said. “In the past month, we have had 100 jobs completed through greatpros.com and almost 200 bureau-accredited professionals sign up.”
Add that number of new sign-ups to a list that now includes over 6,000 companies and trades people.
The roots of the venture date back to their student days. Saleem and the Scruggs brothers played tennis at Grand Canyon University and became friends.
“The three of us have always had a strong passion for entrepreneurship,” Saleem said. “It’s funny, during our classes in college, we would sit in the back of the classroom watching the stock market and research up and coming tech companies. We have always had a great chemistry working together in school so we decided to join forces in building a company.”
They’re off to a rapid start.
“The idea of Great Pros was conceptualized about eight months ago,” Saleem said. “We were in development of the platform for about six months, and since then, we have been seeing rapid growth.”
But the initial idea came, in part, from a problem that Saleem’s parent shad when they wanted to replace their windows.
“The process to find a quality service pro to complete the project took over three months,” he explained. “It was very frustrating. When you have everything at the touch of a button these days, why couldn’t I get connected to a high-quality service professional immediately? So, I teamed up with Brad and Brian to figure out a better way.”
“In terms of innovation, this industry is one that has been behind in many ways and we want to make it a little easier to bring homeowners a peace of mind when it comes to maintaining your home. It starts with high quality service, security and trust,” Saleem added.
Top some degree, each of the three partners focuses on specific aspects of the business.
Saleem focuses on business development, research, financials, sales and networking; Brad mainly leads on marketing, research, and networking; Brian is in charge of operations, product management, and marketing.
“There is always something that needs to be done in a startup, so the three of us really do a little bit of everything,” Saleem added. “As our business grows and we get busier, we are each focusing on our strengths while helping each other with the all of things that constantly need to be done.”
Saleem said Great Pros sets itself apart from other directories in several ways.
“We are completely free for homeowners, and we have no plans to change that. Angie’s list recently made it free for the homeowners after having homeowners pay for many years,” Saleem noted, adding:.
“Also, because of the partnership with the BBB, the professionals on Great Pros are licensed, bonded, background checked and insured. Our vetting process for businesses is much more in depth than Angie’s List, and any of our other competitors, because we want our customers to be connected with the highest quality service pros in Arizona.”
But it’s not just homeowners who benefit.
Saleem said many of the professionals who have signed up “do not know where to start when it comes to marketing.”
“Our vision is to be the ultimate marketing solution for these professionals, so that they can focus on what they do best,” he added. “Our company’s current focus is on driving them new customer leads, and in the future, we will provide additional software tools to assist with customer management, marketing, and business operations.”
Technologically, the service is working like a dream, Saleem said.
“Thousands of businesses are set up to receive the job when it is sent out through Great Pros. On numerous occasions, we have seen home owners receive responses for their project within seconds. On average, the home owners hear from at least one professional within the hour,” he said.
Getting the word out is critical to the company’s success.
“Our team specializes in optimizing paid advertisements, unpaid marketing, and social media marketing,” Saleem said. “We have been seeing early success in getting the word out for our company Great Pros, but we are constantly refining our strategy. It is certainly a challenge when you are in the early stages of a business, but we continue to improve our marketing tactics.”
But the technology can’t be neglected, he added:
“Our number one challenge is to be quick with making changes to our software platform. We are constantly getting feedback from users on our software so that we can constantly improve the user experience for our end user.
“Sometimes these changes can take some time, so there is the right balance of technicality needed. We really let our users drive the product. If our users desire a set feature that is not on Great Pros, we work with our team to build it into the software as quickly as we can. We always stress simplicity.”
The partners’ goal is to become “the ultimate solution for homeowners when it comes to maintaining and improving their homes,” Saleem said.
But they also see an opportunity “when the home service professional relies on us for their daily projects.”
“Generating leads is important for the home service pros, but there is so much more value that we can bring to really transform the industry,” Saleem said. “We work day and night to constantly bring value for homeowners and contractors. While we have a big vision, we do take it one day at a time and focus on the task at hand each day.”