Meet Simon Phelan, Founder & CEO at Smart Home Services Company: Hometree

Hometree is a smart home services company specialising in boiler and home emergency cover challenging an outdated industry to do better and put the consumer first – something which has been lacking for decades.

Our tech-enabled approach means that Hometree is leading the transition of the home services industry to a digitally led one, where customers will increasingly be able to expect the same level of service they routinely experience from tech giants such as Amazon. The only provider in the UK that guarantees a flat rate if no claims are made in the previous 12 months, Hometree is shaking up the boiler and home services industry through an innovative business model, putting the control back into the hands of the consumers where previously the industry has been opaque and uncompetitive.

I founded Hometree in 2016 and am proud to say that it is well on its way to becoming the UK’s leading challenger brand in boiler and home emergency insurance.
 
 
Hometree | anthemis
 

How did you come up with the idea for the company?

 
After being consistently frustrated by the industry’s lack of customer-first approach – specifically market giant British Gas – my overriding mission was to ease the pressures of running a home and to put a halt on the current market monopoly.

I realised there was a clear gap in the market for a home services company that actually cared about its customers.

Like other established industries, the home cover market has two incumbents that have dominated and subsequently become very profitable over the years. But instead of using that success to continue to improve their service, they have prioritised profit over customer centricity, with frequent price hikes which sees devoted customers paying significantly more than new customers.

This is the exact reason why I set up Hometree – and subsequently why it is fast becoming the leading challenger brand in the UK home services market.
This has created a dynamic where millions of customers are now looking for a smarter alternative; for a new challenger like us to enter the market who puts the customer at the heart of everything they do.
 

 

How has the company evolved during the pandemic?

 
During the pandemic, we had a particularly difficult job due to the nature of our work being to solve issues inside customers’ homes. We weren’t able to pause operations as resolving issues such as heating breakdowns and ensuring the sanctity of our customers’ homes at that time became even more important as standard alternatives weren’t available – the option to nip to a friend’s house for a shower, or be warm in an office all day were no longer feasible.

This meant we had to prioritise the most urgent work, and share our wisdom through self-help materials for others, to minimise contact where it wasn’t deemed entirely necessary. We also rebuilt our app to allow for contactless processes such as virtual signatures meaning that customers are sent online links to confirm whether their jobs have been completed instead of requiring a physical signature. This is something we are continuing to innovate with; such technology isn’t solely good for hygiene purposes, it eases the process for customers and engineers alike.

This notion of prioritising work and coming up with effective solutions which minimise physical contact has been emulated since the pandemic, and is something we’re continuing to do throughout our work. There is not a one size fits all approach to a customer problem, so troubleshooting every initial query with a suitable response – whether it be self-help materials, guided virtual consultations or the traditional engineer call out – is integral.
 

What can we hope to see from Hometree in the future?

 
For Hometree, we truly believe that the future of the industry is harnessing the power of the digital and smart home hardware to move a reactive customer experience into a proactive one, where tech-enabled providers like us are potentially even able to tell the customer that an appliance is experiencing an issue, and perhaps even prevent the fault occurring in the first place.

We’re also looking forward to announcing multiple new partnerships with industry names and charities to bolster our offering in the new year. Lots of our customers have experienced uncertainty in the last 18 months, and more recently, during the energy crisis where they have literally had to decide between eating and heating their homes. Our upcoming initiatives are created to support them through this time.

We already promote certainty in our customers’ home cover policies through our no price hike policy – but we want to, and will do more.