Thank you to everyone that has provided us with useful feedback, positive or negative, on the Premium membership scheme that will be launched in September.

We have collected and analysed all the feedback (from the blog and also from your emails) and have used it to identify the main concerns about the scheme and modify the scheme to address them.

Below are the highlights/main points from the feedback and how we have modified the subscription scheme to address them:

  • The bid allocation for the standard and gold membership was too limiting
  • o We have increased the bid allocation for Standard members to 15/month and for Gold to 40/month.
  • o The bid allocation to Gold members has now been doubled to 40 bids/credits.
  • o Also, we have decided to keep the cost of each bid to 1 credit regardless of the project value, which means that essentially everyone will on average be able to bid for double the number of projects with the same credits.
  • It would be more fair to ‘refund’ the bids if the project does not get awarded
  • o We see this point and do agree that it would be fairer to have such a system but unfortunately it would not be possible to ‘refund’ bids because everyone would have to buy bids, then wait until project expiry to before the bids can be refunded.
  • o We decided that it would be more practical to give more free bids (see above) to everyone that will in practice neutralise the effect of some wastage.
  • The number of categories allowed were too restricting
  • o We can see the point that a lot of providers have skills that span two categories so have doubled the free categories for both Standard and Gold members to 2 and 4 respectively.
  • It would be very difficult for new providers to win work
  • o Again, this was one of the major factors behind the big increase of the free bids for the Standard membership.
  • o Also, we are working on a new system to allow providers (new and existing) to ‘import’ feedback from projects they have completed outside PPH. We’re hoping that this will help new providers start with some feedback and win work.

On another positive note, from the buyers asked separately about the scheme, the feedback was almost 100% positive about introducing some type of premium accounts for providers and also to limit the number of free bids to increase quality.

We expect this to improve the percentage of projects awarded, as the common complaints by buyers are that they have often have to go through a large number of bids from providers that do not necessarily have all the skills needed and also that some providers do not respond to the buyers during the bidding stage (and sadly, some don’t even respond after they have won the work!).

It’s worth stressing again that the main drivers behind this is to increase the bid quality and number of projects accepted, as well as provide an avenue for those who wish to benefit from lower commission fees. Without wishing to spark a debate about this (and you’ll have to take our word from it or just ignore this comment!), it’s worth noting that we actually estimate (based on the figures so far) that any financial gains from the bidding will be offset by the reduction in commission, so there will actually won’t be any significant direct financial benefit for PPH – we are however hoping that the increase in the number of projects awarded will benefit both PPH and our provider community.

In summary, the new scheme will be as follows:

 

Standard

GOLD

PLATINUM

Monthly Fee

Free

£7.95

£14.95

Monthly Credit allowance

15

40

80

Additional credits (per bundle of 10)

£5.95

£4.95

£4.95

Service Categories

2

4

Unlimited

Max No. skills listed in profile

10

15

20

Profile listing

Hosted portfolio

2Mb – 5 files

10Mb – 10 files

20Mb – 20 files

Additional service categories

£5.95/mo

£3.95/mo

Free

Service (Commission Fee)

10.00%

8.50%

7.50%

Minimum service (Commission Fee)

£15.00

£10.00

£10.00

       

Project Value

Credits/bid

 

 

Less than £250

1

   

£250 – £500

1

   

> £500

1

   

 Some other amendments to the scheme include:

  • Longer expiry period for purchased bids – this has been increased and instead of expiring at the end of each month, the bids purchased will only expire at the end of the following month e.g. if purchased on 10th of September, the bid credits will expire at the end of October)
  • Free period when upgrading to the premium accounts – the period between the date of upgrade the end of the current month, will be free of charge for those who choose upgrade to Premium accounts e.g. if the upgrade takes place on the 7th of September, the rest of September will be free and the firstly monthly fee paid will be for the month of October.
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With the launch of the networking features a few months ago, a large number of providers have been collaborating and building their professional network by connecting with other providers that they can work on projects with.

With that in mind, we have launched earlier today new features to enable providers to form virtual teams with other providers in their network and bid together, as a team, for projects. To start forming a team, you need to log on to the team section under “My Network” and once you have created your team, you will be able to invite other providers to join.

Each team creator is also the leader of each team and is responsible for placing the bid, communicating with the buyer and coordinating the work done. Once the project is completed, the team leader raises an invoice and collects the payment from the buyer to his PPH account. It is up to each team to agree their own business terms regarding payments from the team leader to the team members for the work each one has done.

To assist with the payment process, we are providing the facility (for those who wish to take advantage of it) for team members to raise invoices for the team leader, who can then pay them using the funds in his PPH account. This minimizes the number of payments and hence transaction fees for everyone. Alternatively, team providers can agree on another arrangement for settling payments but we recommend using the PPH payment system available where necessary.

Please send us your feedback if you have any comments/suggestions about the new features that have been launched.

Despite the current economic conditions, the summer months are proving to be buzzing with activity, with many small businesses looking to outsource more and more projects to PPH providers.

Alongside with the growth of the past few months have also naturally come a few challenges for PPH:

1. Providers who frequently win smaller projects (<£150) would like to see the minimum commission fee (£15) drop.
2. Highest earning Providers are now earning considerable amounts through PPH, hence they would like to see the 10% PPH commission rate drop.
3. Buyers have difficulty in finding providers with the relevant skills in each category, because a large number of providers are subscribed to most categories.
4. Buyers get a large number of bids for their projects but in some cases, the bids are coming from providers who do not have any of the necessary skills for the job at hand (at least on their profiles).

Taking everything into account, we have decided to introduce Premium accounts for PPH Providers later this month. This basically will enable PPH Providers to upgrade their membership to a ‘Gold’ or ‘Platinum’ monthly plan to suit their individual needs. Premium accounts will be subject to lower commission fees (both % and minimum commission) for a very small monthly subscription.

In addition, the Providers that would like to remain on the free, standard membership will continue to be subject to the current commission structure, but with some restrictions on the number of free bids they can place each month and the number of project categories they can bid on. More details on the different membeship plans below:

  Standard GOLD PLATINUM 
Monthly Fee Free £7.95 £14.95
Monthly Credit allowance  3 20 80
Additional credits (per bundle of 10)  £5.95 £4.95 £4.95
Service Categories 1 2 Unlimited 
Max No. skills listed in profile 10 15 20
Profile listing 
Hosted portfolio  2Mb – 5 files 10Mb – 10 files 20Mb – 20 files
Additional service categories  £5.95/mo £3.95/mo Free
Service (Commisison Fee)  10.00% 8.50% 7.50%
Minimum service (Commission Fee) £15.00 £10.00 £10.00
       
Project Value Credits/bid
Less than £250 1    
£250 – £500 2    
> £500 3    

We hope you agree that this change will be beneficial for all: more flexibility for Providers, better quality bids and profiles for Buyers (and hence more work for everyone) and any monthly subscription fees generated will be used by PPH to increase the marketing activities and bring even more Buyers and projects to the site.

We would like to get your feedback on the proposed changescontact us through the site or simply leave a comment on the blog with your thoughts.