ServiceFinder: from idea to Sweden’s biggest service broker in just ten years
Know a good painter, plumber, carpenter or electrician? Or do you know anyone who knows one? These questions inspired three 19-year-olds to drop out of school and create a company that would soon become the biggest household service broker in Sweden. Financial services from Arvato have helped ServiceFinder flourish and grow almost right from the start.
It is ten years since their parents asked Aleksander Goga, Jeffrey Singh and Vishal Nanda if they knew anyone who could recommend some good tradespeople. The three 19-year-olds decided to drop out of school, pooled their savings and set out to create a marketplace where individual customers and tradespeople could find each other easily. Their company ServiceFinder is now Sweden’s largest service broker, used by more than 350,000 customers, and with almost 6,000 service providers on the books. And Arvato has been ServiceFinder’s financial partner for the past eight years.
The idea behind ServiceFinder came at just the right time, as Sweden was introducing the ROT tax reduction for repairs, conversion or extension work on private homes. The three friends went hunting for customers over the phone, and the company grew slowly but steadily. Expansion was financed by incoming payments from customers, but the bigger the business got and the more invoices they sent out, the more time they had to spend chasing up payments. There was an obvious and growing need for a strong financial partner.
‘They adapted to our needs, the way we think’ – Vishal Nanda
ServiceFinder is an internet company where all the traffic takes place on the web, but in principle where all sales takes place over the phone. Traditional e-commerce solutions were not seen as suitable, so the company looked for a solid and secure partner that understood its business and systems, and which could adapt its solutions to cope with ServiceFinder’s rapidly changing needs.
"One of Arvatos biggest strengths is that we constantlly develop and adapt our solutions to what our customers need. It is extra fun to work with companies that are growing very fast, since it challenges us to do even better" says Daniel Ryttar, Business Area Manager, Arvato Sweden.
“They adapted to our needs, the way we think, and not how they thought we should be doing things.”Vishal Nanda, head of marketing and one of the founders of Service Finder
Arvato got on board early on, beginning by purchasing ServiceFinder’s accounts receivable at an early stage. The collaboration worked so well for ServiceFinder that it chose to shift its entire accounts-receivable ledger and factoring plan to Arvato.
“Even when times have been a bit tough for us, Arvato has always been a strong financial partner, finding ways to ensure that we could get payments quickly,” Vishal says.
Flexibility and personal contact are aspects that Vishal often praises when discussing ServiceFinder’s collaboration with Arvato. Even though Arvato is a large company, for Vishal it has felt like working with a smaller provider, thanks to good personal contact with his account manager: Kristin Sehlstedt. Kristin is the dedicated Key Account Manager (KAM) for ServiceFinder and the first person they call if a problem arises.
Over their many years of cooperation, the working group has almost always comprised the same people from both companies, so they know each other and understand each other’s business.
”ServiceFinder are professionals, and they expect the very best. We are both pleased and proud to have been able to live up to that for eight years now, and that we have been able to help ServiceFinder become Sweden’s largest service broker" says Kristin Sehlstedt, KAM Arvato Sweden
Arvato is now a strategic partner, helping ServiceFinder’s customers too
Many of ServiceFinder’s customers are small businesses that don’t have any experience or expertise in areas such as debt collection, bailiffs and so on; sending out invoices can feel like an awkward necessity. Many have therefore asked about a partner who can help in these areas, but it can be difficult for small companies on their own to purchase the services of a major BPO (business-process outsourcing) provider such as Arvato.
ServiceFinder was so satisfied with Arvato that it instituted a programme through which its trade customers could collectively make use of Arvato’s financial services – services they would otherwise not have access to. Today the two companies have a strategic collaboration: Arvato is an official strategic partner to ServiceFinder, and is recommended to all new trade customers signing up with ServiceFinder. Information on Arvato’s services is now available to everyone signed in to the ServiceFinder website.
ServiceFinder started out as a small company with a big need for help in invoicing and financing. Now it wants to give its customers the same opportunity, together with the BPO partner it has used almost throughout its history.
When Vishal is asked whether ServiceFinder usually has such lengthy collaborations with its suppliers, he laughs:
“We almost have a tradition of replacing our suppliers every other year – we don’t want to lock ourselves to one supplier in the belief that we always have the best. We always want to challenge the status quo and see if the grass really is greener on the other side. But when it comes to Arvato, we have never seen any need to change. I actually think that is somewhat astounding, but it just means that Arvato is doing a fantastic job.”
· Founded in 2006 by Aleksander Goga, Jeffrey Singh and Vishal Nanda
· Current ownership: Schibstedt 70%, founders 30%
· 350,000 consumers use the service
· 6,000 service providers connected
· Four offices: Stockholm, Gothenburg, Örebro and Helsingborg
· 5,000- 7,000 requests per month
· Has selected Arvato for complete invoice administration and as strategic partner