North Shore gets a “Sidekick” to take pain out of home improvement projects

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From left: Sidekick co-founders Andrew Austin, David Dombroski and Alex Arata (photo via SidekickHome.com)

After first thinking their new business idea would be an app, the founders of Sidekick soon realized they should really be building an off-line business.

They still have a website, email, and all the modern technology at their beck and call. But their business is all about personalized customer service to take the pain out of home improvement.

The company, Sidekick, which started in Hingham in September 2016, has now moved to the North Shore.

It aims to provide you with your own sidekick, or concierge, or project manager for home-improvement projects.

Casey Kegel is the North Shore’s new rep, and she comes to the company with a background in sales and marketing. “My passion lies in home renovation,” she said.

Company co-founder Alex Arata said the concept is simple. Homeowners, daunted by the prospect of a renovation, can turn over day-to-day responsibilities to Sidekick.

“It’s such a frustrating, discouraging, inconvenient model, such as it is,” Arata said of the current system. “We all have our respective war stories.”

Kegel, who covers the area from Marblehead to the New Hampshire line, said she is already working on projects from a burst pipe to a large bathroom remodel.

“We’re pulling lots of permits. We’re up and running. It’s really exciting,” she said.

Originally from Marblehead himself, Arata joked that he made “the very difficult decision, prompted by my wife, to move to the South Shore” several years ago.

north shore sidekick
Sidekick’s North Shore sidekick Casey Kegel (courtesy photo)

He hooked up with David Dombroski and Andrew Austin, and they set about perfecting their business model.

Dombroski was a handyman, and, as Sidekick began to expand, Arata said the founders thought at first that other contractor types should be hired.

Then they realized, “We’re not a home-improvement company. We’re a customer-service company,” Arata said.

They needed “sidekicks” with “an appreciation for customer service and good professionalism,” he added.

“You need a person who knows enough and asks the right questions,” Arata said. “They ask the second or third layers of questions to understand enough what needs to get done,” he added.

Sidekick charges home owners a flat five percent fee. It uses contractors it has recruited and vetted, Arata said.

Sidekick organizes the project and negotiates a discount from contractors by taking over their administration, such as billing.

“The tradesmen show up and do the work they are good at,” Kegel noted.

The company’s latest offering has been inspired by Amazon Prime, Arata said. For $120 a year, home owners can turn over responsibility for routine maintenance, such as snowplowing or landscaping, to Sidekick.

Customers also get a twice-yearly walkthrough by Sidekick. Arata said it allows residents to build up a digital history of their home and schedule preventative maintenance.

“You can build a Carfax for your home with the history of all your projects,” he said.

Anyone interested in contacting Sidekick for help with a project can find contact details on the company’s website SidekickHome.com.

 

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