How to save time and money on small repair jobs on your investment property with Jiffy
Dealing with property maintenance is a normal part of being a landlord and with Jiffy it’s now a lot easier to deal with. Jiffy is a new app that connects property owners with trades people and service professionals for small repair jobs. In this episode Andrew la Fleur chats with Paul Arlin (co-founder of Jiffy) about the service, how it works, and what advantages it offers landlords and condo investors.
PAUL ARLIN INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS
2:30 What is jiffy?
3:20 How did jiffy get started?
5:33 What kind of feedback have you gotten from your costumers?
7:11 How is jiffy different from other options out there?
12:55 What are some ways jiffy can be useful specifically to the real estate investors?
19:55 Have you ever tried removing a trades person from your ecosystems?
20:20 What markets are you available in for people today?
24:16 Anything else we didn’t ask about that you want to cover?
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Click Here for Episode Transcript
Andrew la Fleur: On today’s episode learn how you can save time and money on small repair jobs on your investment property. Stay tuned.
Speaker 2: Welcome to the True Condos Podcast with Andrew la Fleur, the place to get the truth on the Toronto condo market and condo investing in Toronto.
Andrew la Fleur: Welcome back to the show and thank you for listening. One of the biggest problems or complaints or apprehensions that many people have about becoming a landlord, becoming a real estate investor in the first place, is this idea that you’re going to be called at three in the morning to come and fix a toilet. That seems to be the image that a lot of people have in their heads.
Whatever it may be for you, maybe it’s that, maybe it’s something else, but it’s this idea that you’re going to be inconvenienced by the repairs and upkeep of a property that you have to look after. Many people are busy enough and flabbergasted or whatever you want to call it or overwhelmed by the amount of work and energy and time required to maintain their own property, so thinking about having to do that on additional properties is sometimes a daunting thing.
Now of course if you are a seasoned condo investor you know that fixes and repairs and maintenance on especially a brand new condo are extremely rare, but occasionally from time to time there may be things that need to be done and anytime you can save time, money and inconvenience to you having these things taken care of, that’s a major win as an investor. One of the apps that I’ve been using lately a lot is, to help me with this, is called Jiffy.
You may have heard of this already. Maybe you already using it, taking advantage, but Jiffy’s been around for a couple years now and today’s episode, on today’s episode I’m going to be interviewing the co-founder of Jiffy. His name is Paul Arlin, so stay tuned to listen to that episode here and to that interview here.
Also stay tuned, listen all the way to the end of the episode to find out how if you haven’t used Jiffy before you can sign up and there’s a special offer for you for listening to this podcast where you can actually save $25 on your first Jiffy, the first use of the Jiffy App, so stay tuned and listen to the end for that. So here it is, my interview with Paul Arlin. Okay, it’s my pleasure to welcome to the show Paul Arlin. Paul is the co-founder, one of the co-founders of Jiffy App. Paul, welcome to the show.
Paul Arlin: Thanks for having me.
Andrew la Fleur: Great to have you here, Paul. What is Jiffy for those people who don’t know?
Paul Arlin: So Jiffy is a mobile app that connects homeowners with home service professionals in real time, so think if you need a plumber, electrician, a handyman, any one of our 30 categories, a trades person, you can instantly connect with them and within a few minutes have a confirmed appointment, track them when they’re on route, bill out through the app all the while paying a standard rate card that they all follow. Jiffy guarantees all the work by pre-vetting each trades person coming to your house or condo and also standing behind the job after it’s done.
Andrew la Fleur: How did Jiffy get started? I know you guys have been, as a company you have been around for … How long has …
Paul Arlin: For about two. We launched in Toronto about two years ago. We started about two and a half years ago building the apps. It started when one of my partners and I moved into our first house separately, not together, and as young home owners we just quickly saw how much of a pain it was to get trades to come over for very small jobs around the house.
So it wasn’t that hard to get a trade over if you want to finish your basement or do an addition or something big, but it was those small jobs where trades would pick and choose what to come. The exact instance was my wife and I went out one Saturday morning, bought a few light fixtures and at the lighting store we asked them if they had someone who could come and install the fixtures. My wife needs stuff done immediately.
They just handed me two business cards of electricians. Called both electricians, didn’t answer the phone. Went on Home Stars, started reading dozens of reviews of electricians and called 10 and I think two answered the phone. One, the job was too small and they weren’t interested and the other one was located 45 minutes from my house and they were able to squeeze me in the following week. All the while I was sure there was an electrician probably driving around my area that Saturday morning that would have happily come by and done the quick 45 minute job.
I just had no way to find them, so we came up with the idea to create this dispatch network that would outfit hundreds of electricians with a pro-facing app and then homeowners could quickly and instantly reach all these trades and specifically nearby trades with availability on their schedule in an instant versus the old school way.
Andrew la Fleur: Yeah, it’s amazing. What kind of feedback have you gotten from your customers?
Paul Arlin: The customers love it. It’s a game changer in our mind versus the status quo. There are a lot of other platforms out there. They’re all answering the question of who is the best trade to come over, so if you think about review-based sites or lead gen sites where you tell someone, you get a bunch of contractors contacting you and then you can read up on them and negotiate with each of them. That’s about finding who’s the best person for the job, so for those bigger jobs that I was discussing earlier, those sites actually work great.
If I was going to build an addition I’d probably want to read a bunch of reviews, get a few quotes, meet with the contractors themselves, but in my light fixture example I didn’t care who was coming. It wasn’t worth my time reading 20, 30 reviews of various electricians in Toronto. I just wanted someone qualified, pre-vetted, well rated by other homeowners and I wanted to pay a fair market rate for them and get them quickly on my schedule. That’s the part of the market we address are those kind of same or next day under $500 service call type jobs.
Andrew la Fleur: Interesting. Same or next day under $500 service type charge. It’s a very specific market that you’re targeting and I think that’s why you’re so successful is you really know the customer that you’re serving and you know the problem that you’re trying to solve. How is Jiffy different from other options out there for somebody who’s looking for those? I need something done to my house, it fits in that sort of under $500 job category.
Paul Arlin: Yeah. That being said, people definitely order Jiffy’s more than a day out. If you know you’re going to be home, if you know you’re going to be working from home next Wednesday and you want a handyman to come in because you want to be home when they’re there, of course, people book in advance, but yeah, it’s mainly those jobs. Also, of course some jobs are over $500, but that being said, our view is that technology can solve this issue of getting a trade for small kind of black and white commoditized items around the house.
The other platforms that I guess you’re asking about, in our view technology can’t solve that. There’s too much human involvement. When there’s a varying degree of quality, for instance, of remodeling your bathroom or kitchen, we don’t think technology’s going to solve that. There’s going to be humans involved. So how are we different than the other platforms? Kind of like I explained. There’s no back and forth between the homeowner and the trade that’s needed. You just go on the app, you say you want an electrician to swap a light fixture.
You’d see our posted rates, so in each city we in we call 30 companies to get their rates and we try to be average in the market. You would just do just that, in 20 seconds you would say your address, what you need done, when you want it done. All the electricians will receive the notification and then you’ll have someone confirm within a few minutes with a one hour arrival note. You’ll get a push notification when they’re en route and then when they leave they’ll just punch in how long they were there for and any materials that needed to be used.
I hit complete, your credit card gets billed, you get emailed a receipt and Andrew, as a Jiffy user I’m sure you know how much more efficient that is for you than the status quo. The biggest surprise we’ve had to date is how much more efficient it is for the trades. The trades love our platform because on most of the other platforms where they pay a subscription or a pro lead fee versus ours, which we take a nominal percentage from each job they bill through the app, they don’t have to field any leads or tire kickers or people asking questions about their pricing or whatnot.
They just click accept, book it into their calendar, it’s a firm job, bill it out. They don’t have to deal with any payment invoicing, customer service, or even selling the job.
Andrew la Fleur: Yeah. Absolutely. It’s really a seamless model I think. That’s the key thing. That’s the biggest, the most precious thing that anybody has whether you’re a professional trades person or whether you are the customer, the person looking to get a job done and looking to solve a problem, is time. Time is the one thing that everybody is valuing the most it seems these days more and more and more.
So particularly for the condo investor, the real estate investor who most of us, we have full time jobs, we do other things. We’re not just managing our properties all the time. We’ve got better things to do, like you said in your first story of calling around 30 people, looking up reviews online, negotiating back and forth on a price, wondering if this person is legit or not. Sort of all that stuff is all taken care of and it’s really, it sounds kind of cliché, but yeah, that’s been my experience with the app is basically it’s just clicking a button and it’s done.
Paul Arlin: For sure. It’s not at a premium at all, so the big thing, if you search around plumbing companies in Toronto, we’re one of the few that list our prices right there on our website for everyone to see. If you wanted to find out a fair plumbing rate you could call 10, 15 companies, ask what their rates are. It will be kind of ambiguous. One will have a truck charge, one will bill for different amount for the first hour. One will come for free and just quote you for the small job.
Our view is that for those small quick jobs it’s not worth your time getting quotes. We’ll have clients chat with us all the time, “Hey, how much would it cost to swap this faucet in my kitchen?” We’ll just say, “Look, there’s the posted hourly rates and minimums. They go as quick as possible. Here’s what it should be barring any unforeseen circumstances.” But for the most part you can understand why it’s not worth your time or the trade’s time to quote a two or $300 job.
Andrew la Fleur: Yeah, especially for them to come to you to look at the job, it makes no sense, but if they’re offering you a fair rate right off the bat and they’re assuming you’re going to be there, they’re going to do the job in and out, it’s incentive for the trades person to just, to give a very fair price upfront and to [crosstalk 00:12:27].
Paul Arlin: Exactly. It’s just my time. If it’s a five minute job it will be the minimum. If it’s a five hour job it will be five times the hourly rate, but whatever it is, you can just rest assured that that’s what it would have costed if someone came in to quote it because that’s what plumbers bill out at in this city by the hour.
Andrew la Fleur: Specifically talking to the real estate investor, the condo investor in Toronto in particular who’s listening to this podcast, what are some ways that Jiffy can be useful to them?
Paul Arlin: So I’m sure all investors and landlords can sympathize with how much the frustration is amplified with them versus a homeowner because if you’re a homeowner and you want your dishwasher fixed, yeah, it’s a bit of a pain to do that, run around that we talked about, but if it’s your tenant that says, “Hey Andrew, my dishwasher’s not working. Get a tech to fix it.” Back and forth now has a third party, right? It has the landlord so now you’re busy doing the vetting, trying to find when appliance techs can come.
You’ll get their availability, you’ll communicate it to your tenant, you’ll communicate it back to the appliance tech who’s probably not going to answer the phone 50% of the time. Then get back to your tenant and then there’s just a lot of back and forth they’re going on. So a lot of landlords use Jiffy for this stuff, especially because if something, if an appliance or whatnot isn’t working you need to get that fixed right away for your tenant.
So landlords will just order Jiffys and they’ll just put, because it’s their credit card on their account, their personal contact info, they’ll just say right in the Jiffy description, “Contact tenant. Here’s the tenant’s availability. They told me they’re home tomorrow and Friday.” It just all happens and the landlord just receives a bill.
That’s the extent of the back and forth. Now the bill you can also rest assured that you’re not getting gouged because you’re not involved at all in the transaction because the Jiffy appliance tech is simply following the rate card. What we’ve actually built and we’re launching within the coming months in the new year is a landlord tenant function.
So this is where a landlord can actually invite all their tenants, so we actually have a lot of landlords use us if they manager five or less units. We kind of see ones if they manage over five units they may have someone on call and wouldn’t use Jiffy as much, but a lot of landlords that do manage a handful of units, we have a function where they’ll be able to invite all their tenants to be a tenant on Jiffy.
Then how that works is a tenant can say, “Hey, my dishwasher’s not working.” Now the landlord gets a notification, lets them know. They can either approve or reject that request from their tenant. If they approve it a beacon goes out to all appliance techs. Business as usual within the Jiffy app between the tenant and the technician and then the landlord will get the receipt when it’s all done.
For landlords it’s nice because all your receipts, everything you do, whether it’s appliance tech or handyman or a painter or a mover or junk removal or whatever they ordered on behalf, their tenant ordered on their behalf or vice versa, it’s all organized in their Jiffy account with a history of everything.
The other nice thing as you know if something doesn’t go perfectly, and it definitely happens, an appliance tech may come fix the dishwasher and a month or three months later the same issue is occurring. Rather than chasing after that one off appliance tech who’s probably going to start rejecting your calls at a point, unless he’s super honest and guarantees his work and comes back, you just simply come to Jiffy and because we give so much business to each of these pros we have quite a lot of leverage on them.
If we say, “Hey, go fix up Andrew’s tenant’s job,” and they’re there tomorrow and they meet you there, they’re quick to prioritize their Jiffy clients because of how important as a group we are to them.
Andrew la Fleur: Yeah, absolutely I found that as well. If there ever is any issues with most trades people, good luck chasing somebody once they’ve already got your money, right? That’s one of the …
Paul Arlin: Exactly.
Andrew la Fleur: … most common complaints anybody has dealing with any kind of trades person.
Paul Arlin: And your payment’s also held, right? So exactly, so also when you pay through the Jiffy app, your payment’s actually held there for four days just to see how you then rate the pro. If anything didn’t go perfectly with the job we’ll hear about it shortly thereafter and we’ll send them back. They only get release of payment when you’re completely satisfied or if it’s after those four days if you want another pro rather than the previous pro, we’ll do that and just remit the payment to the second pro.
So it’s a lot more of a guaranteed service in that respect as well, so anyone who’s been burned before I think definitely sees the value of us there.
Andrew la Fleur: Yeah, absolutely. There’s so many layers to the system that you’ve created that is in the benefit of the customer from just going in and vetting each pro before they get started, from researching the rates in the particular market and like you said, making sure the prices are fair and they’re not high.
Nobody’s being gouged right from the start. Everyone’s paying a fair price, but after the fact, if there are any issues with the job as well, because these guys get so much business from you you’ve got tremendous leverage on them and built in sort of way of sort of making sure that they always do a good job. If they don’t, they’re gone. They’re kicked out of your ecosystem and that’s obviously a very powerful incentive for them to keep doing a good job.
Paul Arlin: For sure, and like you were mentioning with some of the other platforms out there, very few of them are involved in the transaction like we are purely for this reason, they don’t want to get involved in disputes. That’s also why our focus is on those kind of under $500 small black or white jobs.
Disputes on jobs are very low just because it’s swapping light fixtures, it’s fixing a dishwasher, it’s doing paint touch ups. It’s nothing that would lead to potential complaints. Just in case there is and something doesn’t go perfectly for a client, dealing with a two or $300 situation is a whole lot better than a 50, $100,000 job.
Andrew la Fleur: Yeah, major renovation or something …
Paul Arlin: Exactly.
Andrew la Fleur: … where people start …
Paul Arlin: Will never, yeah, yeah.
Andrew la Fleur: Nobody’s suing anybody if their toilet wasn’t installed properly, their $200 job or whatever. It’s just much better like you said for you just to resolve that problem within your own ecosystem.
Paul Arlin: Yeah.
Andrew la Fleur: Have you ever had to remove a trades person from your ecosystem because they haven’t been keeping up?
Paul Arlin: Yeah, absolutely. They have to maintain a four and a half star rating, so if they do ever … From users so we’ll prompt users after each job to rate them out of five. That’s how we know what’s going on behind closed doors from here. If they fall below four and a half we’ll give them a warning that their next 10 jobs have to be five stars, so we’ve removed some people in that way. Also, when they sign up with us they’re agreeing that we have 100% client satisfaction guarantee, so that means in a dispute situation, they’re going to have their side, the client’s going to have their side.
We will always err on the side of the client unless the pro can prove to us with written approval they got of something, “Hey, this client went with a temporary fix and they got a sign off on it.” Or if we send another pro to just check in on a situation kind of acting as a third party, if they agree with the previous pro then we’ll show the client kind of all the backing of that situation. But other than that we take the client’s side.
We’ll definitely have some pros that sign up and early on they see they’re getting a lot of business from us, but we’ll refund a three, $500 job whatever it may be to the client because we have that guarantee and it’s kind of a he said, she said situation. If they’re not willing to work with us on that we offer we’ll pay you in full on this job and take you off the system or you can refund it, which is our policy and remain on. If they take the first route then that’s their prerogative and it’s not a good longterm business decision in my mind for them, but some do that.
Andrew la Fleur: Right, right. No, that’s great. That’s the bottom line is like you said, you’re always going to err on the side of the customer. Sure, you’re going to get some whack job customers from time to time.
Paul Arlin: Definitely.
Andrew la Fleur: Your focus and the reason why you exist is to solve problems for the customer and the homeowner and the landlord. What markets are you, like if people want to use your services and sign up, obviously I’ll give more information on how to sign up for Jiffy at the end of this interview, but what markets are you available in for people today and what markets are you going to be in soon?
Paul Arlin: So we’re in Toronto and Ottawa right now. We’re from Toronto, our office is in Toronto. We launched here when we started and we were very careful with refining the business, the product, flushing out everything before we kind of started expanding too quickly and we’ve maintained that.
So we’ve extended to Ottawa last year and we’re expanding to Boston late January. So we’re in the process now in Boston of setting up a whole bunch of our initial trades, and we’re very careful what companies we take on in the beginning because it’s all about delivering those wow experiences. That’s what makes people use it again, talk about it. So that’s it. Then …
Andrew la Fleur: So when you say Toronto, is it just the city of Toronto? It’s the entire GTA?
Paul Arlin: It’s the GTA, so people can actually order jobs from anywhere, so we’ll have people order jobs in Burlington, Barry, Oshawa, what have you because a lot of our pros live in or close to those areas. So if you order a job in Barry, very good chance it gets accepted. That being said, we can’t guarantee a Jiffy experience, meaning we’ll have a confirmed pro within three and a half minutes for exactly when you want about 96% of the time.
In Barry, it may be we only have a dozen techs in that category, so they’re not always available, so it’s not a true Jiffy experience there, but in the GTA it definitely is and in Ottawa it is as well.
Andrew la Fleur: That’s great. Anything else we should know about Jiffy? Anything I didn’t ask you about that you wanted to cover?
Paul Arlin: One … Yeah, I guess one fun feature that any of our users will see, and we try to promote this as much as possible, is our Jiffy Flash Feature. So this is where we’re really seeing the future of what we’re doing. It’s cutting down travel time of the pros because they spend a third of their days driving between jobs and passing … So we’re increasing how many jobs they’re doing in a day and we’re passing along savings to the clients if they book before or after their neighbors.
If you download the Jiffy app and you’ll input your address you’ll actually be able to see all your neighbors, anyone within a three kilometer radius of your house or condo and jobs they have booked in the coming week. If you book before or after those jobs, then you’ll get a predetermined savings.
So for instance if you need an electrician, our rates are $180 for the first two hours, but it’s $135 for the first two hours if you book before or after a neighbor. The electrician is ecstatic about it because he doesn’t really have to drive too far.
Andrew la Fleur: He’s already there, yeah.
Paul Arlin: Exactly, so as we continue to increase density with users, you’ll see more and more of those Flash Deals and that’s when we’re actually going to start driving our prices below average. This isn’t taking away from the trades at all. It’s just cutting down their travel time and keeping an electrician in Liberty Village doing four or five service calls versus him typically doing two or three service calls all over the city.
Andrew la Fleur: Yeah, amazing example of technology creating a win-win-win situation. It sort of reminds me of obviously you guys are compared to Uber I’m sure a lot …
Paul Arlin: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Andrew la Fleur: … with the Uber Pool, right?
Paul Arlin: Exactly.
Andrew la Fleur: Going in or about that direction anyway. This other person wants to go that direction. Just share the vehicle, share the cost. The driver makes a little bit more. The customers save a little bit. Same thing with you and your concept here with the Flash Sales with Jiffy.
Paul Arlin: Exactly.
Andrew la Fleur: That’s great. Excellent, well thank you very much for your time, Paul and sharing with us a little bit more about Jiffy. As I said, everybody listening, just stay tuned. I’m going to let you know how you can sign up for the Jiffy App and get started and actually save a little bit of money for doing so. Paul, thank you so much for your time and I wish you much success in the future.
Paul Arlin: Appreciate it. Thanks Andrew.
Andrew la Fleur: Okay, there you have it. That was my interview with Paul Arlin from Jiffy. I hope you enjoyed that and once again as promised, if you want to sign up for Jiffy, give it a try, I do recommend it. I’ve used it myself many times for my own personal residence as well as my rental properties. You can go ahead and use the code, the referral code TRUECONDOS. All one word, TRUECONDOS.
That will give you a $25 credit from your first use of a Jiffy service. So go ahead and enter TRUECONDOS when you sign up for the referral code and you’ll get $25 off your first service. Okay, until next time, have a great week and happy investing.
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