One of the more interesting review opportunities I’ve had on the blog recently has been for a new service company, called Bidvine.
Or, maybe ‘service company’ is the wrong way of putting it. Bidvine doesn’t actually deliver services itself, it just acts as a marketplace for independent contractors to provide local services. If you need a cleaner or a professional trainer in your area and want to support local business, for example, you can put a request on Bidvine and they’ll come back to you with quotes. It’s sort of like Craigslist, but you only get answers from professionals.
Normally this sort of thing wouldn’t excite me much, but given the fact that I now work for an on-demand business I was interested to see how Bidvine compared to the supposedly modern way of doing things. Is it cheaper and better to go slow and book ahead after checking several prices, or is using an on-demand service such as Bizzby or Handy preferable? I wanted to find out and Bidvine offered me £100 of store credit to investigate.
After creating an account with Bidvine, my first reaction was one of pleasant surprise. I had expected Bidvine, like Handy and Bizzby, to support only a small number of obvious services, such as cleaning and handymen – or Ikea assembly, which bizarrely seems to be a USP for Handy. In actual fact though Bidvine supports a huge array of services, from language lessons and person trainers, to archery, fencing and rock-climbing. It also offers cleaning, handyman and man-with-van services too, naturally.
I was surprised at how easy the site was to use too. At a macro level there’s no denying that the Bidvine process takes considerably longer to complete than an on-demand equivalent – you have to request quotes, wait a day or two for them to come in, choose one and then schedule times in advance – but no individual step is more laborious than it needs to be. The theory is also that you end up paying more for the convenience of an on-demand service, so a little planning should save you some cash on Bidvine. Unlike on-demand services which usually charge on a time basis, Bidvine requires you to fill in a short form for each request, so the professionals have enough information to give an informed quote.
I wanted to test the full breadth of Bidvine’s service, so I put requests out for five different services that caught my eye: domestic cleaning, personal massage service, archery lessons, rock climbing lessons and fencing classes. Unfortunately, this is where I ran into a few problems – it was only after I spent time filling in the forms that I found out there were very few rock climbing, fencing and archery instructors in my area. A better approach would be to do as most on-demand service do and either limit my available requests based on my location or else warn me about the low availability before I fill in the forms.
Ultimately, filling in forms for those lessons was a waste of time because it’s now a week later and I still haven’t had any responses despite the fact that I live in London and there’s a fencing and archery club with two miles of my flat. Unfortunately, the same proved true for the domestic cleaning option too. That’s disappointing obviously and, while it should become less of an issue as the company grows, the fact remains that it couldn’t meet my needs on this occasion.
In fact, the only service which Bidvine was able to find for me was for a massage therapist. It got me two quotes for this, one at £50 per hour and one at £45 per hour, both from masseuses who live outside of London but would travel to me. One of the masseuses said she’d have to travel up from Brighton, which is real dedication.
Ultimately, though I didn’t get a chance to try any of Bidvine’s actual services I did still get an opportunity to see how the whole customer journey works and how an order could be completed. On that front I have no complaints and was very impressed with how easy it was to book and how affordable the quotes I did get back were. The only downside is that I got remarkably few quotes back at all – though that will hopefully change as Bidvine grows out of the startup phase and secures coverage in more of the UK.