Movers & Shakers: Creating Flow
authors Patrick O'Toole
Eric Remer, CEO of Denver-based EverCommerce, is a technology entrepreneur whose previous work with payment-system solutions, namely PaySimple (the platform for EverCommerce), brought him into contact with remodelers and home improvement companies who use the service. In 2016, EverCommerce received a $115 million investment from Providence Equity Partners to expand as a digital-services platform, with Remer at the helm.
In March of 2017, EverCommerce began acquiring firms such as improveit 360, Keyword Connects, MarketSharp and GuildQuality, just to name a few. The goal is to find new efficiencies and create a better, more seamless end-to-end experience for customers, not only in this industry but in others as well.
Remer explains the vision on the heels of news that Providence will be providing another $200 million to fund further acquisitions going forward.
QR: Tell us a little bit about you and your background.
Remer: I’ve started four companies in the past 20 years. The main theme and vision is creating solutions that make the lives of business owners easier. How do we build the platforms that improve the life of the people we serve?
QR: What types of businesses are ideal EverCommerce companies?
Remer: First and foremost, the businesses we look for are all run by very high-quality, very high-integrity leaders that have a shared vision of creating the best products and the best experiences for their customers. So we are looking for strong teams. That is really the high-level view of the businesses that we are looking for.
QR: Have all of your acquisitions to date been related to home improvement?
Remer: No. We call it home services, so we think of it a little more broadly. I think there are eight in that category and four or five directly in home improvement. The other three or four are in HVAC, plumbing and electrical. By the end of next week [mid-February 2018], we will have completed 13 acquisitions, and 10 will have been in home services, broadly speaking.
QR: What role will EverCommerce play in the home improvement industry?
Remer: Our goal is to create an ecosystem of leading software solutions and services for the home improvement industry. We want to make it easy for contractors to connect the dots with the tools they need to be successful. And ultimately, we want to know what we can do to better support their growth. We do believe in an open network, and we will work with and partner with companies—whether we own them or not—if it creates a better experience for our end customer.
QR: What types of technologies should home improvement companies be adopting?
Remer: Each company is different and has different needs. I want to be careful not to give an overriding statement at all—that a whole group of companies need X, Y and Z. But I will say that they should focus on adopting technologies that focus on three main things: 1) They want to create efficiencies in sales, marketing and operations. 2) Make it easier for their employees to provide greater value to their end customers and be more successful in the field, and 3) Use software and solutions that help them, the contractors, provide the best experience for their customers.
This goes back to your question earlier: Who is your end customer? To us, there is not necessarily a delineation, except that we only touch the contractor and the pro, so we have to focus on giving them what they need. We know that if we do a really good job, then they can provide the best experience to their end customer, the homeowner.
QR: What does the long-term vision for EverCommerce look like?
Remer: As far as the long-term vision, I touched on it above. Our vision is really for EverCommerce to be the leading commerce platform in the world, helping millions of service-based businesses thrive. We will keep buying software services and solutions that accomplish that goal.
QR: Why the name EverCommerce? You picked the name right?
Remer: Every interaction that a home improvement company has with their customer is a transaction. That transaction may or may not be an economic transaction, but it’s an interaction. So a commerce platform is really something that facilitates those interactions that are so vital to the growth of a service-based entity. You need word-of-mouth, repeat customers and long-term customers—all the things you don’t have if you think about other forms of commerce, which have been historically retail and e-commerce. We really believe that we haven’t really scratched the surface on being able to create the platform, connect the dots and provide greater value to our end customers. We love our vertical focus because we learn more and more about each vertical. But you start going into different verticals, and you are able to find solutions and tools that technically were built for a particular vertical, but the applicability of that tool is just as relevant in different verticals. And so we are able to learn the best flows, best systems and often best software that may or may not be in different verticals.
QR: Why did you choose the home-improvement industry as your first target for M&A?
Remer: When we were at PaySimple, which is the predecessor to EverCommerce, we were already working with more than 1,000 home improvement companies, so we understood the market at a high level. And we understood the customer. And most importantly, we understood the limitations of our product offering to provide the best value to our customers. So we wanted to find companies that could provide more value directly to our end customer: contractors. The market for software solutions was very fragmented. One of our second thoughts was, ‘OK, we know we can’t build something as good as they’ve already built, because we don’t know some of the subtleties these companies may know.’
QR: There must be some overwhelming opportunity in home improvement. Can you explain further?
Remer: Our view of the home improvement space was that there is going to be, over the next several years, a technology transition utilizing more software and tech-enabled services to make home-improvement businesses more effective. It’s our hope that we can provide enough value that it helps accelerate the pace of technology adoption. We think of adoption not in a self-serving way, but as just a positive. It is positive for everybody in the home improvement ecosystem. Homeowners continue to gravitate to technology in all aspects of their lives, and maintaining their home is no different. It is with that mindset that we thought we could make a difference and we could add value. So we’ve put a flag down in the home services sector as a place where we wanted to go and make an impact early.
QR: Why the overlap in services by some of the companies that have been acquired by EverCommerce? What is the thought there?
Remer: A lot of them, from the outside, seem more overlapped. However, each of these organizations has subtle differences—some greater than the others. And we think the value they provide to their end customer is unique. Each of these organizations, in our view, will continue to operate independently and provide value with connecting integrations where it makes sense. We’ve connected marketing services, payments and customer-retention tools into some of these organizations to create more of an end-to-end experience. So we believe that most of these organizations will continue to remain independent with their own brands, but hopefully provide even more value to their customers for many years to come.
QR: How will contractors benefit from this undertaking?
Remer: Home improvement businesses will benefit because many of them are currently piecing their technology solutions together. As we continue to evolve the platform, there is going to be more integrated and complementary flow, from lead generation to the sales process, to installation, to payments reporting, to ongoing customer retention, to truly make it easier for the professional, the contractor, to just focus on the business without having to piece together a solution. And as I said earlier, those can be our end-to-end solution tools, which some people are looking for, but we are not a closed loop. We definitely see the value in the partnerships that each of our companies have outside of the companies we own. Because our end focus is providing the best experience for our customers. Sometimes those experiences will be with companies in our ecosystem, and sometimes they won’t.