Hometown Dumpster Rental is the #1 online resource for customers looking to find a service provider for dumpster rentals, junk removal, and demolition. More than 2 million potential customers visit Hometown’s site every year to find a service provider in their city. Hometown hired Darwoft to redesign their consumer-facing website with advanced search features, as well as Bookable, a highly sophisticated scheduling and inventory management application for service providers. Together, these two platforms streamline the booking and operations process from end-to-end for two key audiences:
- Small Business Service Providers: Most of Hometown’s customers are small companies with only two or three staff members with limited technical capabilities. They juggle complicated schedules, valuable inventory, and incoming quote and rental requests with a limited staff each day.
- Consumers: Both individuals and companies seek out dumpster rentals, junk removal, and demolition companies for various projects. These consumers are often new to this kind of service, and they need help finding the best service provider to meet their timelines and budgets.
With Hometown’s consumer-facing website (HometownDumpsterRental.com), the company aims to connect these two audiences, speed up the search process for consumers, and deliver valuable leads to service providers.
With Bookable, Hometown wanted to provide a user-friendly operations management system for providers to automate scheduling and optimize inventory usage.
Hometown’s Consumer-Facing Website
Finding a new service provider can be confusing and time-consuming for new customers. The search often involves going to several different websites to collect quotes, and these quotes rarely compare apples to apples in terms of what you get for the price. Hometown simplifies the search process by creating a system in which consumers need only fill out one form in order to receive quotes from several providers in their area.
Additionally, Hometown’s system hand-delivers bid requests from valuable leads directly to service providers, thereby reducing sales and marketing costs for these small businesses. Providers are able to choose specific jobs for which they submit a quote.
When Hometown approached Darwoft in 2017, they were seeking fixes for a few specific problems on their three consumer-facing websites. The Darwoft team implemented new features and ended up redesigning everything. In 2021, Darwoft changed how the backend works completely. Previously, Hometown had been using an old CRM called LongJump to store their clients' data, which communicated to an old Drupal 7 part of that data to feed the Hometown sites. This process was a bit complex to maintain on the client-side. With the new implementation, Darwoft was able to put the whole business into a unified backend. Plus, thanks to React/Gatsby technology, the site is now able to render between 10x - 15x faster.
Hometown’s new website comprises several key features:
- A search engine to deliver geo-targeted results for every city in the country
- Dynamic search rankings based on quality, activity, and membership level of providers
- Comparable pricing is displayed for each provider to allow consumers to compare
- B2C contact functions including phone calls and SMS
- Online quote request form for consumers to fill out and which is distributed via SMS to multiple providers at once
- Back-end management tools for Hometown employees to manage all 12,000 providers listed on the site
The Darwoft team faced three primary challenges during this project:
Challenge #1: Pricing and Booking Page
Because each provider uses a different pricing structure, Darwoft’s developers were unable to simply pull the price from each provider’s website and display it on Hometown’s site. This method would not provide consumers with an accurate representation of how much it would cost to get the same job done with each different provider.
Given this, the team needed to implement a rules engine that broke down each provider’s pricing structure and came back with one price that reflected the same service at each company. The rules engine had to account for a variety of factors, including different dumpster sizes, ability to increase or decrease services, different taxes among states, and additional charges. This functionality allowed Hometown to offer accurate, verified data to its visitors and become the #1 online resource for new customers in the industry.
Challenge #2: Complex System for Charging Providers Created Performance Issues
When the site originally launched, the system was set up to charge providers only when they responded to a quote request. Over time, this system proved to be too cumbersome, as too many calculations were needed to figure out what to charge each provider. The high level of complexity created performance issues, which caused the site’s SEO to suffer. SEO is extremely important to bringing new potential customers to Hometown’s site, so this was a high-priority issue that needed to be addressed by the team.
Hometown simplified their pricing structure and implemented a subscription model with different package sizes that corresponded to how many leads a provider would receive. Previously, job requests had been sent to providers based on the distance to the job and their overall rating. The new subscription structure was going to streamline operations and reward providers for paying more, but it presented an immediate heavy lift for the Darwoft team. A new pricing structure required a complete change in technology for this part of the system.
The Darwoft team implemented a new algorithm that allowed providers to select a subscription package and for Hometown employees to manage each provider based on their package. The change in formula streamlined operations for Hometown employees and helped to reward providers who had larger subscriptions with more job opportunities. Overall this update created a big impact on Hometown’s business.
The Darwoft team delivered a sophisticated and cost-effective complete solution that reduces the search time for consumers and delivers valuable leads to service providers. By using just one team and agile development processes and tools, Darwoft was able to provide a shorter time to market and reduce costs to meet Hometown’s timeline and budget. The easy-to-use site presents fewer technical barriers to users of all levels of technological knowledge.
Through advanced SEO strategies, the site consistently ranks at the top of search results for “dumpster rentals” and “junk removal” in any location throughout the country. New blog articles and other resources keep the content fresh and relevant in order to appeal to search engines and create maximum exposure to the target audience.
Beyond connecting providers with new customers, Hometown wanted to help providers with the logistics and operations of their business. Of the many challenges that service providers face, scheduling dumpster rentals is by far the most difficult. Each dumpster needs to be picked up, emptied, and delivered to a new location, and a new schedule needs to be created daily to complete these tasks. In order for businesses to maximize their profitability, they need to optimize the efficiency of each unit. With a small team of two or three, creating and managing these schedules can be a time-consuming and tedious task for providers. What’s more, many providers were not keeping accurate records of their inventory and customers to help inform their schedules. Often, job details were entered manually into spreadsheets without any checks and balances for incomplete or inaccurate data.
Hometown wanted to create a cross-platform application, called Bookable, that would make it easier for providers to manage their logistics and schedules. The application needed to integrate seamlessly with the consumer-facing website, providing a back-end management system for providers.
Hometown asked Darwoft to develop the Bookable application with database and logistics management features including:
- Automated pick-up and delivery schedules delivered to staff daily with route recommendations based on time of day and traffic
- Manual overrides for staff to assign particular jobs and tasks to drivers
- SMS communication between providers and customers
- Analytics reports for providers showing traffic to their pages and product views
Challenge #1: Providing an Easy-to-Use Automated Scheduling System
Dumpster rental companies need to plan their daily pickups and deliveries, as well as the dumping of the unwanted content at the most convenient landfill or recycling plant. The larger a company becomes, the more trucks and dumpsters need to be accounted for, making logistics an important aspect of their business.
Darwoft needed to find a way to develop a tool that allows users to efficiently assign truck drivers their daily tasks according to the current locations of the dumpsters. To accomplish this, the team combined the practicability of GMaps to display the dumpster locations with the flexibility of a simple kanban board to assign the tasks to the corresponding drivers.
- Up and down arrow icons represented on both the map and kanban differentiate delivery and pickup actions.
- The color of the pin allows users to quickly interpret the ticket status (unassigned, assigned, in progress, or done).
- The tickets are also related to the kanban column at the left, making every assignment as simple as a drag-and-drop item to the corresponding driver.
- Users can also use the “select mode” to select more than one ticket at once (either from the kanban or the map) and perform bulk actions such as assigning them to a particular driver, changing their status, or even re-scheduling them to a different date.
- A convenient toggle is set next to each driver, which is used to draw a straight line between the different destinations in the order they have been set up. This allows the planner in charge to have a much better idea of the daily schedule for each driver.
Challenge #2: Back-End Management of 12,000 Providers
Hometown’s employees are responsible for managing the booking logistics for the 12,000 providers listed on the website. Employees need to be able to track which providers respond to a quote and report back to providers when they win a job. And with thousands of providers to manage, this system needed to be automated in order to keep up with demand.
Bookable automatically responds to each quote request with an SMS message both to providers and customers. The providers receive a link to review the details of the requests and then decide whether or not they would like to accept them. If they do accept, the provider will access the customer's contact information, and the customer will get a notification letting them know that a provider has accepted their request.
The Darwoft team used Twilio as the SMS messaging service, and they also provide an interface in Bookable to centralize all communications. The Bookable team will be able to check all of the incoming and outgoing messages, while the providers will only check the messages specifically sent to them.
Challenge #3: Integration with Other Platforms
Bookable requires integration with several third-party platforms in order to perform all of its functions. Such platforms include:
- Twilio: To centralize the communication between Hometown, the service providers, and the customers that need the services they offer. While the customers only receive SMS messages (so they don't need to download a separate app), the providers are able to communicate with them via an interface (similar to Telegram or Whatsapp) that includes multiple features.
- Google Maps: To provide a logistical solution for dumpster rental services with a tool that assists with the daily planning of dumpster deliveries.
- Stripe: To provide online payment processing and collect the information needed from Hometown clients that will allow them to manage their subscriptions in the future.
- Sendgrid: To send emails to Hometown clients.
- Additional platform integrations include Plivo, Marchex, and Mandrill.
Darwoft delivered a cross-platform application that saves time and maximizes profitability for thousands of small business providers. The easy-to-use platform allows each service provider to log in and set up all of the operational aspects of their business. With each new rental, Bookable creates a new job with a set of tickets, assigning pickup, disposal, and dropoff of each unit to a driver. Schedulers can view the automated schedule each morning and manually update tickets to reassign drivers and manage inventory.
The Darwoft team is already at work on the next application upgrade, which will include an expanded set of features including a first-of-its-kind marketplace for the industry.
The new iteration will allow consumers to select and purchase any one of Hometown’s services directly from the application. For example, a user looking to rent a dumpster will be able to name their price, select a specific dumpster, and pay for it all within the site. Users looking for junk removal and demolition can also purchase these services directly through their shopping cart, just as they do when buying a product online. The entire job will then be managed and tracked from booking to completion, creating a smooth process for providers and consumers alike.
Darwoft has been a terrific partner for Hometown. We've had a very ambitious set of development projects over the last few years, including some very challenging business needs. Essentially, we tasked Darwoft with completely overhauling our front and back end. They've architected and implemented a number of creative solutions... enabling Hometown to modernize, operate more efficiently, and provide a better experience to our service providers and customers.
What stands out about the Darwoft team is their strong work ethic. On countless occasions they've worked long into the night to help us troubleshoot an issue or launch a new feature. The whole team is truly committed to our success. We couldn't ask for a better technology partner.