Premium Provider accounts update

August 28, 2008

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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4 Responses to “Premium Provider accounts update”

  1. Paul Says:

    Don’t you sometimes wish for the simple life, that you used to have? Now the world is full of needless complication.

    I don’t for one minute think that the new changes will result in buyers awarding more projects.

    Sigh.

  2. susan Says:

    I agree with Paul. I’d also have to say that the standard of English/grammar in your description of the new system leaves a lot to be desired if you expect people to take you seriously as a professional organisation.
    The typos, poor sentence construction etc do you no favours – and the way you describe things will certainly lead to a lot of confusion.
    I think it is ludicrous to suggest that you will not make additional profit from this change in structure. Better to be honest and admit that the new structure is a way of improving profits !
    I do agree that many people place bids on a wide range of projects without having any training/skills or experience in the sector involved and that buyers can be swamped with useless replies. However, I think it would be much better simply to allow someone to upload a given amount of credit to their account and then charge them, say, 50p for each bid they place. That would certainly prevent people from placing bids willy nilly – were that the true intention of the changes.Those who want to bid on high numbers of projects could opt for a standard monthly fee instead. I bid only on projects for which I’m qualified and well experienced and look likely to be orthwhile in terms of earnings potential. (For example, I never bid on the growing number of projects from students wanting someone to write their essays for them!!)
    You also don’t mention any action you’re taking to ensure that people listing projects give a reasonable description of the work required, timescale involved and at least a vague idea of budget. That would be much appreciated by bonafide providers.
    I also bid for work on Bizreef which charges a sliding scale depending on budget stated and number of bids requested. It is frustrating because often you don;t know whether you want to bid before asking a question – and you can’t ask a question without bidding.

    By the way, I would be more than happy to edit and proofread your page on Accounts Update so that it makes sense throughout and isn’t confusing to a lot of readers!

    susan

  3. Simos Says:

    Thanks for the feedback on the changes Susan & Paul. I agree that perhaps the description was not as clear as it could have been, so just to clarify and respond to some of the points raised:

    1. While everyone is entitled to their own view, we cannot write that this is simply a way to improve profits (as you are suggesting), since it’s simply not true. We certainly do hope that this will increase acceptances and also, that it will improve the bid quality. We have access to all the usage figures/stats and based on those, we feel that the scheme proposed is very reasonable – the vast majority of providers will not be affected by these changes. Please see point #2 below as I am not sure the table above was interpreted in the right way (feedback taken on board about the wording and we will of course make sure that when the accounts are launched, the FAQ and help section are a lot clearer than the blog post above).

    2. Susan – there seems to be some confusion because what you are actually suggesting (ie. paying 50p/bid) actually sounds a lot more aggressive and limiting to what we have described above. Perhaps you are misinterpreting the table? Just to avoid any confusion, the Standard Membership is Free (i.e. no monthly fee) and you can place up to 15 bids per month without paying anything. If you run out of credits (which for most providers will not happen since they place less than 15 bids / month) then you can purchase 10 additional bids for £5.95, which can be also carried over to the following month. I don’t see how it is better to pay 50p/bid?

    3. There is a way on PPH to ask a question without bidding, by using the Project Clarification board. So, there is no reason to bid just to ask a question.

    4. The Premium accounts (Gold and Platinum) are not something mandatory and certainly not something that would be the best option for everyone. If someone places 1-2 bids/week for small projects the Standard, free scheme might be the best option but for someone who places a bid everyday and makes £300-£400+ / month from PPH might choose to sign up for one of the Premium schemes, since the commission reduction alone will offset the monthly fee. Similarly there are providers who win 1-2 small projects each month and now are subject to the £15 minimum / invoice – but with the Premium accounts, this minimum is only £10 so upgrading might be the right thing for them.

    5. Regarding the point on charging a sliding scale; as you can see from the above, we no longer have a sliding scale based on the budget stated.

    6. The blog post was not meant to cover the approval process for projects but since you asked, I thought it would be good to mention that we do review all standard projects prior to uploading them on the site, and we do block quite a few of them (if they don’t make sense, or if they don’t have enough information) until we get the necessary clarifications from the buyers. Of course, I am sure you appreciate that it is not always possible to get a buyer to write a detailed description – in those cases, we take a judgement call and upload it on the site if we feel that it has enough information for providers to understand what the project is about (and no doubt ask questions about the details) or reject it if it does not make enough sense.

    7. Paul – I certainly agree that life would definitely have been simpler without these changes (for us too!) but while simplicity is great, sometimes cannot offer all the answers. However, we will of course be monitoring closely to ensure that this achieves the objectives above (as opposed to generating unnecessary complication) and will adjust accordingly if necessary.

    I hope this clarifies things – please feel free to ask questions if anything is unclear, as it is difficult to cover everything in detail in a short blog post.

  4. Michele Says:

    I love your blog design.

    I agree that proper spell checking and sentence structure is a direct reflection of professionalism. As for freelance work I have had great success on CORPe-rate.

    For those interested it’s http://www.superesults.com


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