Homeyou Takes Page From Wayfair Playbook for Home-Contractor Site

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“be profitable from day one,” Filikov says. Homeyou’s founders didn’t pay themselves a salary until about two years ago, he adds.

The silver lining? “Lack of resources creates a need for creativity and elegant solutions,” Filikov says.

2. Building a unified brand. The way Wayfair and Homeyou built up their Web traffic and then refocused on a single brand is strikingly similar.

Wayfair was originally called CSN Stores and ran a network of more than 200 retail websites with generic names like Cookware.com, Strollers.com, BedroomFurniture.com, Luggage.com, and EveryFaucet.com. Eventually, the company decided to consolidate all those websites under one giant e-commerce roof, and rebranded as Wayfair.

Homeyou has similarly launched more than 800 microsites targeting specific services, like bestroofquotes.com and reliabletreeremoval.com, whose names are geared toward popular search terms. “They’re not very sexy sites,” Filikov admits, but the search engine optimization wizardry has helped the company find more high-quality leads for contractors.

After a couple of years quietly building the business, Filikov and company are marketing the Homeyou brand more aggressively. But its executives haven’t decided if that effort will involve shutting down the hundreds of generic microsites or redirecting them to Homeyou’s website, which could deal a blow to the company’s overall Web traffic, Filikov says. “It’s scary from an SEO standpoint.”

Wayfair’s executives can relate. The company had to weather big drops in traffic as it gradually redirected its 200-plus shopping sites to Wayfair.com between late 2011 and mid-2012. That’s because search-engine algorithms punish traffic redirects, making companies earn back their ranking if they rebrand. But Wayfair saw it as a necessary barrier to overcome if the company was to have a chance at evolving from a huge network of home-goods shopping sites to a one-stop home shop.

Taking a huge chunk of venture capital meant Wayfair had a cash stockpile to sustain the business while it made that transition. Unless Homeyou raises outside money, it might not want to take the same risk with its fleet of websites.

3. Developing technology in-house. This has been an emphasis for both companies. Wayfair, for example, built its own software to manage enterprise resource planning, analyze reams of customer data, and oversee product searching and order management.

At Homeyou, “we built pretty much everything we use in-house,” Filikov says. That includes developing its own customer relationship management software and Web-based call center system.

Homeyou is considering adding more product features that enable it to interact with homeowners, Filikov says. Those might include delivering photos of suggested remodeling designs based on user preferences and sending messages to recommend home maintenance, like “have you checked your air filter lately?”

The goal would be to make Homeyou a destination for more than just hiring a contractor, Filikov says. “We want to create more of a long-term relationship with the homeowner.”

Interestingly, Filikov mentions that Homeyou could also add the capability for customers to purchase furniture and home accessories from it—which might make it a Wayfair competitor someday. Selling home goods is “something in the back of our minds,” he says. “But our bread and butter is still the services.”

Filikov says he admires Wayfair’s emphasis on product and customer service “as an engine to drive growth.”

“The long-term thinking is what I see in Wayfair that personally I think is a really good model,” Filikov says. “We think we have a model that works very well.”

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