After working in real estate and as a contractor in various industries for many years, Michael Johnson left to start a home health care software company. Then, one day he needed a contractor right away.
“I wasn’t all that familiar with the other platforms that were out there because I usually just called the contractors that were already on my speed dial,” he said.
He wanted a platform that would allow him to send repair requests to multiple contractors, so he decided to build one. He took it one step further, though.
“When I sold off my other company, I wanted to do something that had a really nice give-back model and just be different,” he said. He started working with a consultant on a business plan that could do more than just connect contractors with customers.
“The more we talked about it,” Johnson explained, the more they realized that nonprofits “have an audience that is typically vulnerable or at risk. We’re curating a hand-picked list of really good contractors, and we can make them accessible; put them into a pool, so to speak, where if your members are looking for something, our contractors have hit a high mark in terms of their integrity and honesty and professionalism.”
Johnson decided that WallysList would donate 20% of fees charged to local nonprofits. Another 5% is set aside for a scholarship for students interested in trade schools.
WallysList doesn’t charge contractors a referral fee. Instead, contractors who successfully bid for a job with a client pay a flat rate based on the average project cost for that trade. That ranges from $5 for jobs like sewer scoping or radon testing to $250 for jobs like roofing.
“I’m not greedy; I’m not trying to become a billionaire off of this,” he said. “What I want to do is just say, ‘You’re a painter—whether you charged $300 for the job or you charged $25,000 for the job, it’s $30, period.’”
Johnson said he’s also not shopping those leads out to a bunch of different contractors. “That goes back to how we give value to the contractors. We don’t change you for a lead and then sell it to 10 other contractors,” he said.
WallysList launched in late January with 30 to 40 contractors. Johnson said he’s operating with a business plan that’s “1 inch wide,” with most leads coming from charities, “but our whole business plan is probably 6 feet wide.” He aims to add to a business-to-business function in the near future, as well as an education platform.
Danielle Andrus was previously the managing editor for Colorado Builder, and is currently Editor for the Journal of Financial Planning.