By Betty Stephens of Quest Media
Angie’s List is a US-based website that aggregates verified consumer reviews of service companies as a way to “capture word-of-mouth wisdom.” Angie’s List has about 1.5 million subscribers throughout the United States and Canada who post an average of about 40,000 reviews each month. The concept behind the website is to certify their data collection process by only allowing paid and registered subscribers to access the website to prevent anonymous or biased reviews.
Formerly headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Angie’s List was co-founded by William “Bill” Oesterle and Angie Hicks in 1995. It was inspired by Hicks’ search for a reliable contractor in suburban Columbus on behalf of Oesterle, a venture capitalist and her former supervisor. She relocated to Columbus to join him in creating Angie’s List, which started as a call-in service and publication for reviews about home and lawn care. Hicks went door-to-door, signing up members and collecting ratings on local contractors. For a year, it was called “Columbus Neighbors”, the name and idea being patterned after the Indianapolis, Indiana-based community publication, Unified Neighbors. After solely recruiting more than 1,000 members in Columbus within one year, Hicks turned to Oesterle to raise money from investors in order to develop the business at a steady pace.
In 1996, Angie’s List purchased Unified Neighbors, from creator Bill Corbin and relocated its headquarters to Indianapolis. By 1999, the database of local services and reviews was moved to the internet. During the ensuing years, their customer base and business relationships grew throughout North America, while also expanding to include additional service industries such as health care and auto care.
CNN Money featured Angie’s List as one of the 100 fastest-growing inner city businesses in the nation, with their 2009 revenues reaching $45.6 million in 2011. According to their 10k, Angie’s List’s revenue last fiscal year was $90M.
Angie’s List grades companies using a report-card-style scale, which ranges from A to F; these ratings are based on the following criteria: price, quality, responsiveness, punctuality and professionalism. Each company has its own page, which is composed of a description of its business along with the customer reviews. The aggregate grade is drawn from the combined reviews and grades given to the businesses from the consumers. Angie’s List employees are trained to identify any reviews that seem biased or sabotaged, so the overall rating will only reflect legitimate customer reviews. This process was reviewed and approved by BPA Worldwide during a 2009 audit Revenue for Angie’s List comes from member subscription fees, as well as advertising from businesses that have an overall grade of B or higher on the website.
Angie’s List is reputed to have a unique company culture, in that it encourages a laid-back yet innovative atmosphere. Communication is extremely open between management and staff, and ideas are encouraged from all employees, regardless of their positions. Angie’s List was named one of the Best Places to Work in Indiana in 2007 and 2008 by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. The rankings for the list are based on the feedback of randomly selected employees at eligible Indiana businesses.
Angie’s List was also a finalist for the Nation’s Healthiest Employers of 2010. They have had a comprehensive employee wellness program for over 5 years, which includes about 30 different programs and events throughout the year. Employees are offered health, life and dental insurance, as well as access to the fitness programs and the on-site fitness center. They are encouraged to participate in various events created to foster a team environment and boost company spirit.
Angie’s List estimated that its annual revenue in 2008 was $58 million, generated primarily through advertising in its newsletter and membership fees. Angie’s List has not published its annual expenses or net income.
Membership fees are based on volume of service providers at a given location. For example, Angie’s List reported the following annual membership fees as of 4 December 2009:
• Charlottesville, Virginia — $10
• Stamford, Connecticut — $32
• Beverly Hills, California — $36.25
• Pompano Beach, Florida — $47
In 2010, Angie’s List raised a total of $25 million in capital from investors. In September 2010, Wasatch Funds and Battery Ventures invested $22 million. In November 2010, Saints Capital led an additional funding of $2.5 million.
On November 17, 2011, Angie’s List began trading on the NASDAQ exchange under the ticker symbol ANGI. It priced 8.8M shares at $13 and opened for trading at $18, a 33% premium.
Consumers pay a small membership fee to join Angie’s List. They offer different membership options though, so pricing varies depending on your needs and where you are located in the country. In certain grassroots chapters where we’re still building the List, consumers can join for free for at least one year. The price can vary depending on the part of the country you’re interested in and how long you plan to use the service. The Angie’s List membership fee ensures that you get certified, reliable data on the services you need, provides for live staff support and enables the delivery of our award-winning magazine straight to your door.
See the example of a monthly plan for the lowest upfront cost in the Houston area.
Angie’s List Bundle: Member favorite! The most services at the best price
Plan Dues Signup Fee Total Discount
Monthly $4.40 $10.00 $14.40 0%
1 year $39.00 $0.00 $39.00 26%
2 years $70.00 $0.00 $70.00 34%
3 years $99.00 $0.00 $99.00 38%
4 years $125.00 $0.00 $125.00 41%
Getting On the List as a Service Provider
Most providers on the List were added when a member submitted feedback on them. At that time, Angie’s List sets up a complete profile for the business to go along with the member’s review. If someone wants to add a new company that they used to the List, follow these steps:
First, click Write a Review in the banner. Search for the company by name to confirm that they’re not already on the List and then click the small link for “Can’t find the provider you need? Add them to the list.”
Next, select type of work the provider did for you. Businesses that take care of work around your home, auto and yard are on our Classic List. We have our medical categories broken in to sub-categories to cover doctors, health insurance companies, medical retail stores, and hospitals. Classic Car (vehicles 25 years or older) specialists are also separated from our regular Auto category.
Then, enter the provider’s contact information so we can set up a business profile.
On the following page select the specific service that describes the work the company performed for you. Enter the service category and click Apply Category. Add as many as you need and then select Continue to begin writing you review.
Add Your Business
A company or health care professional may set up a free profile so that their contact information will appear on the List. However, they will not be rated and will be listed after businesses with reviews. Providers use their profiles to check their reviews and maintain their reputation in the Angie’s List community. However, companies can also create a free account and appear without a rating on the List. Once your company is registered, you may log in at any time to review and update your company’s profile, check your ratings, and read and respond to new reviews. Registration is quick and easy. On the first step, just enter your company’s name and zip code. They will check to see if they already have any information on your business.
See example login on the next page.
If you don’t see your company in the potential matches, just select Add Company.
A company or health care professional may also set up a free profile to check their reviews, keep their contact information up-to-date, and maintain their reputation in the Angie’s List community. However, providers that don’t have reviews yet will be listed after businesses that have earned ratings from our members. If you are a provider and want to appear on the List, see how to get started!
Providers Can Advertise
Angie’s List does allow providers that earn an average of an “A”- or “B”-rating to advertise in the form of discounts available to our members. Only companies that maintain their positive ratings are offered this privilege. If a company’s rating falls below a “B” or if they fail to respond to a Complaint Resolution case, we remove their coupons from our magazine and website.
Companies and health professionals are not obligated to offer coupons, nor does their decision to advertise affect their rating on Angie’s List.
If they choose they can sort search results to see providers offering discount first, but they can also choose not to display these results. This search option doesn’t change the provider’s grades and companies can’t pay to show up at the top of the List for every search under any setting.
Report Date: 1/12/2008
Was Work Done?: YES
* More weight is given to a report where work has been completed.
Hire Again?: YES
App. Cost: $400
Home Build Year: 1957
*Build Year date helps you locate companies that work on homes that are similar in age to your own.
Description of Work: Replaced a burst outdoor faucet, which required digging a roughly 4 x 2 foot hole.
Member Comments: The faucet burst on Christmas Eve, so this was messy work in very cold weather. They were hampered a bit when my dog jumped in their hole to try to bury a chicken leg. They were prompt, cheerful & courteous (they even disposed of the chicken leg for me). They kept the dirt on a tarp and completely and tidily replaced it afterward. I’ve used this company repeatedly, which happens when you have a 50-year-old house, and they’ve always gone above and beyond. They warranty their work and nothing has ever gone wrong. On previous jobs, I’ve pulled the “while you’re here, could you look at this, too?” bit. They’ve done so if their schedule allows, but sometimes said they couldn’t, which shows me they respect the customers who are after me.
1030 E. Washington St.
Indianapolis, IN 46202