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How Service Brands Can Survive (and Thrive) in the DIFM Economy


  • Customers that buy a couch not only expect brands to deliver it but also assemble it in their home. This customer expectation shift is called the “do it for me” (DIFM) economy. Consumers expect seamless experiences between them and the brand they’re working with.
  • Offering installation and maintenance will let your home services brand tap into the growing do-it-for-me economy.
  • Customers expect web-based portals so they can enter relevant information ahead of time without having to tell the customer service rep and repeat it to the service provider.
  • DIFM customers are used leaving instant feedback on an experience.
  • DIFM customers want to schedule their installations and maintenance via their phone, and even watch the service provider’s journey to their home so they don’t have to wait a minute longer than necessary.

First, we did it all ourselves.

Then we hired out certain aspects of hated tasks: We started getting takeout instead of cooking dinner ourselves, asking grocery stores to collect our groceries so we could just go and pick them up, and ordering furniture online so we wouldn’t have to lug it home.

Now, we want to simply open an app to get pizza delivered to our homes, have our groceries brought to our doorstep, and have furniture companies not only deliver, but also assemble our new bookshelves. 

It’s called the “Do It For Me” (DIFM) revolution. More and more businesses, from automotive companies to garden supply stores, are changing their operations and forming partnerships to meet this demand—and the DIFM revolution will likely affect your home services brand, too.

The DIFM Trend Is Big—And It Makes Sense

Retailers caught on early that aging Boomers would rather have someone else install a ceiling fan than climb a ladder and do it themselves. And an article in Hardware Retailing magazine reports that “[DIFM consumers] range from the later-age baby boomer needing extra help around the home, to the younger first-time homeowner without the skills or time to complete their various projects.”

Lacking the dexterity or skills to DIY isn’t the only reason people choose DIFM. Consumers have discovered that money can’t buy happiness, but using money to buy time can. If someone can spend $80 to save the three hours it would take them to put together an Ikea bunk bed—and then spend those three hours with their family—that’s money well spent.

Members of the DIFM economy span age groups, locations, and income brackets. Almost half of them are Millennials, close to a third are between 35 and 54, and almost a quarter are 55+, reports Harvard Business Review. About 40% of these consumers live in small towns or rural locations, 30% live in outer suburbs, and another 30% live in or close to cities. Surprisingly, almost half of on-demand consumers have an annual household income of under $50,000, and less than a quarter hit the six-figure mark.

Because the market for DIFM is so big, smart businesses are making an effort to create offerings that meet these consumers’ demands. “[These businesses] understand that it provides numerous competitive advantages, such as the ability to expand existing product lines, enter into new markets, decrease product returns, increase customer satisfaction levels, and support online sales nationally,” said Todd Banhidy, former CEO of Newell Logistics, said a decade ago. (As further proof, Banhidy later founded Buy It Installed, which delivers a seamless installation offering for retailers.)

How Home Services Brands Can Offer Great DIFM Experiences

The DIFM revolution has reached consumers of home services as well; people are relying on brands to not just deliver the products but to also install, build, and maintain them. As we wrote in an earlier post, “Products are commodities; the real prizes are the recurring revenue and deeper relationships that come with providing an extraordinary customer experience.” 

But there’s more to offering DIFM services than posting a notice on your website that you now offer installation or maintenance services. Consumers expect these experiences to be seamless and positive, and mobile apps are at the core of the DIFM movement—so home services brands that want to tap into the revolution also need to have the right technology and capabilities. For example:

DIFM Tool #1: Simple Scheduling

To envision what scheduling looks like in the DIFM economy, think Uber: In just three quick steps, a customer can schedule an Uber ride up to 30 days in advance. They can also track the driver’s arrival on a map, so they know exactly when their ride will pull up.

With so many businesses like Uber offering a great scheduling experience, a clunky scheduling system won’t cut it for your home services company. Homeowners want to schedule their installations and maintenance visits wherever and whenever is convenient for them, and even watch the service provider’s journey to their home so they don’t have to wait a minute longer than necessary.

DIFM Tool #2: Fast Feedback

DIFM customers are used leaving instant feedback on an experience. With TaskRabbit, for example, as soon as a job has been invoiced by the Tasker, the customer can leave a rating and review in the TaskRabbit app or on the online dashboard. (Not only do customers expect this feature, but it’s good for the business, too: The company can jump on feedback right away to thank the customer, fix problems, and improve future services.)

If you want to hop on the “do it for me” train, then, be sure to offer homeowners a way to rate a service provider the instant the job is done. 

DIFM Tool #3: Convenient Communication

Gone are the days when a customer would sit patiently on hold to talk to a customer service representative, repeat the details of the project to every person involved in it, and sit on hold again to change or add to the information they provided. Fast, convenient communication is the new norm for people in the DIFM economy—and customer portals and texting apps are the tools that make this happen.

In the same way, home services providers should provide web-based portal where customers can enter relevant information ahead of time, so they don’t have to tell it to the customer service rep and then repeat it to the service provider. The homeowner can also use the portal to edit or add to the notes, and use a mobile app to reach out directly to the service provider.

Want to Join the DIFM Revolution?

Offering installation and maintenance will let your home services brand tap into the growing do-it-for-me economy. Dispatch was built just for this. Reach out for a demo to see how Dispatch provides your customers with easy scheduling, seamless communications, and instant feedback capabilities.

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