First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID19 times?
Adrienne Minster: Good, thank you. Most of my family are in America and I’m based in London. In a way, I had a head start on a lot of people as I’m used to jumping on a video call to catch up with them, still it’s hard to be far away at a time like this. We’ve all been doing our best to stay safe and adapt to life in the middle of a pandemic.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined RatedPeople
Adrienne Minster: I’ve been lucky to have had a lot of hands-on experience building and leading functions and teams within tech-enabled businesses throughout my career. Before joining Rated People, I launched hibu’s (formerly Yell Group) global eCommerce business and focused on transforming the online customer experience there.
I also built and led operations for BroadReach Healthcare in South Africa, which involved launching a nationwide HIV/AIDS treatment programme underpinned by a disease management platform. I’m drawn to businesses where there’s a real sense of purpose and huge potential for transformation and growth. Rated People ticked that box for me when I first joined in 2015 and still does. Every day brings something new and the company’s grown so much over the last 5 years.
How does RatedPeople innovate?
Adrienne Minster: As a tech company, innovation is in our DNA. I make sure I’m clearly setting our company’s vision and direction and giving everyone at Rated People enough detail and context to enable them to work towards our shared goals. From there, it’s a collaborative process each and every day, as we work cross-functionally. If you bring a team of smart people together to focus on singular projects or challenges, and you’ve given them that clear sense of what you’re looking to achieve and why that’s important, they’ll pool their knowledge and make smart choices a lot faster.
How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting your business and how are you coping?
Adrienne Minster: When lockdown was announced in the UK, we saw a drop of around 50% in the number of home improvement and repair jobs being posted through Rated People, with 70-80% drops for some internal trades like tilers, painters and decorators and bathroom fitters. Outdoor work like gardening and tree surgery has been the most popular overall, where a trades business wouldn’t need to come inside your home.
As time has gone on, consumer confidence has been building and we’re currently 13% up on jobs versus our pre-lockdown level at the beginning of March. Thousands of homeowners are reinventing their spaces to get more out of their homes and make them better suited to working from home. Extra money they’ve been saving on not commuting and carrying out their usual leisure activities is going back into re-imagining their homes.
We’re also seeing rising interest in green improvements – nearly 1 in 3 homeowners want to make eco-friendly improvements this year and 29% of our tradespeople have already seen an increase in the number of green jobs they’ve been asked to quote for since last year. We think the government’s new Green Homes Grant will accelerate that trend as it’ll make those improvements more affordable for many.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Adrienne Minster: We’ve been very fortunate compared to most from a financial perspective but like thousands of other businesses, furloughing some of our staff was difficult. What we found was that most of our staff really wanted to help in whichever way they could to enable both our company and customers to come out of the lockdown in the best shape possible. They wanted to be working and we wanted to allow everyone to help, but of course, that wasn’t possible because of the conditions of the furlough scheme. Our sales team decided to self-select who would go on furlough, based on who they felt was best placed to absorb that temporary change and I’m really proud of how they responded to that.
At the moment, our main choice is around the future of working life and when and how our team returns to the office. During this phase, we’ve found we can be just as efficient and effective working remotely, but we do miss the informal interactions and time we all had together in the office and some of our staff members really need and want that in-person interaction, especially those who live on their own.
We’ve always had some degree of working from home, but we’re now exploring what our employees would like further down the line and thinking about what that might mean for things like staying connected and how we continue to build and maintain our company culture if the balance tips in favor of more remote working. We’re a very social team! For all of the challenges this period has brought, we’re grateful for what we’ve also learned as a company and want to make sure we don’t lose those lessons as we think about the next phase.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety and what are your predictions for yourself or RatedPeople in the future?
Adrienne Minster: Making sure your vision and purpose is clear is really helpful. I’ve found that if you know what you’re working towards and why, it helps you ride out any bumps in the road. Your goal will always be bigger and more important than any one moment in time that might be stressful. Right now, I know we’re helping to jump-start the British economy and that’s the most important thing.
Outside of that, I surround myself with good people that I trust both professionally and personally – and make sure I get enough sleep! I really value our leadership team – we know each other’s stress cues so if one of us is feeling under pressure, we proactively lean in to encourage communication and offer support.
I’m really excited about what the future holds for Rated People. Homeowners and trades businesses are moving online and the pandemic has accelerated that behavior. We’re seeing record numbers of tradespeople looking to sign up with us to find new customers – in fact, June was the biggest month in our entire 15-year history.
With many businesses exploring more permanent remote working options too and lots of us holidaying in the UK this year or remaining at home, I expect to see more homeowners looking to reinvent their homes and turn to online services to make the projects happen. It’ll be more important than ever that we enjoy spending time in our homes and they’re geared up to suit our current circumstances. There’s also a big trend for energy-efficient improvements, with smart lighting topping homeowners’ 2020 wish lists!
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Adrienne Minster: Word of mouth is actually our biggest competitor, so we’ve been looking at opportunities to harness that. We try to learn from others who are working in a similar space within the UK and around the world – whether it’s something that one company has done really well or a test that didn’t work out, we learn from it. This goes for our own performance as well. All of this is important input which shapes how we evolve our strategy and customer proposition.
We are thinking big about the future of trades services in the UK. To do this, we need to continuously challenge ourselves to be better, work differently, and move faster to support our customers – both trades businesses and homeowners. With both set to play a vital role in driving the UK’s economic recovery, we can’t afford to wait. It’s an exciting time!
You can find our main website at RatedPeople.com and we have apps for both homeowners and trades businesses on the iTunes Store and Google Play. Our Homes app is for homeowners to find a trades business from the comfort of their own sofas and our Trades app is great for trades businesses looking for new work on the go.