How a proptech startup uses online forms to build a business

Buying a home may require a major investment of money, time, and patience, but Christian Adams knows that having the right information in hand is just as important.

For instance, Realtors can use a home inspection report and repair estimate as negotiation tools to have sellers fix the issues with a home or potentially lower the price.

Adams, an Austin-based Realtor, fine-tuned the process with an inspector who conducted inspections on homes for sale and a contractor who prepared the repair estimates.

As the strategy gained traction in Adams’s office, the contractor was inundated with requests for estimates but no longer had the time to prepare them all. To keep up with the demand, the contractor hired a team to build a sophisticated pricing tool — based on hundreds of past reports and thousands of estimates — that could accurately determine the average cost of specific home repairs.

The outcome was a profitable online business, called Repair Pricer, which generates repair estimates based on home inspection reports uploaded by real estate professionals and buyers.

“Realtors and home buyers now have an effective way to take the guesswork out of home inspections to reduce liability, save time, and improve their negotiating position in what is undoubtedly the largest purchasing decision of a person’s life,” Adams, now the CEO of Repair Pricer, said in a 2018 press release.

“Realtors can immediately integrate Repair Pricer into their tool sets to protect clients from overpaying for a home and provide the best homebuying experience possible,” he said.


Get all the information you need in a single place

Adams began using Jotform in 2014 while building landing pages for real estate companies. He now uses Jotform to manage the company’s partnership with vendors.

Under this partnership model, vendors embed Repair Pricer’s forms on their websites and direct clients to Repair Pricer’s repair estimate tool. Repair Pricer, in turn, provides repair estimation services to clients and collects payments directly from them for each order.

But this was a challenge from the get-go since Adams found very few solutions that could collect information, large PDF files, and payments from clients seamlessly in a single place.

Even when he found effective plug-in solutions that allowed clients to order and upload files from remote websites, Adams faced the daunting prospect of redesigning websites for individual vendors just to accommodate the software tools.

Since he was already familiar with Jotform, Adams created some test forms and found that a single form could be shared across websites for multiple vendors with an auto-generated embed code.

“This led us to just literally give them one line of JavaScript and say, ‘Here you go,’ ” Adams said. “Now we have a network of vendors, and it doesn’t cost us anything to sign them up.”

The best part, according to Adams, is that any changes made to a form will appear on all of the forms embedded on a vendor’s website.

“If I make one change, that goes to every single end point, which saves us hundreds of hours of work, because without this solution, we would have to go and update every single website,” he said.

Adams also found that clients or vendors could upload large or multiple files. He just had to add the file upload form element in Jotform’s Form Builder to the appropriate form. Once a form was submitted, Repair Pricer got the files instantly.

Jotform also provides reasonable file upload limits that are tied to a user’s plan. Users with free plans have 100 MB of storage space set aside for uploaded files. Meanwhile, Jotform users who pay for bronze, silver, and gold plans get up to 10 GB, 100 GB, and 1 TB of storage, respectively, for files uploaded through their forms.


Collect payments through your forms

A cornerstone of Repair Pricer’s partnership program is the ability to collect payments through the online forms clients or customers fill out.

At first, Adams wasn’t sure whether Jotform allowed people to make payments on a form. He was relieved to find a Stripe integration while creating some test forms in Jotform’s Form Builder.

Stripe’s reporting tools and quick payment process have helped Adams stay on top of Repair Pricer’s finances. Adams can even use his programming prowess to extract payment information, build customer matching programs, and compile email lists, among other things.

“I sometimes get payments into my account within 24 hours,” he said. “We have a large staff, so cash flow is important.”

As an example, the Jotform integration with Stripe has recently helped Adams create an order form that allows home inspectors to subscribe to Repair Pricer’s services.

“I think I’m signing up almost 100 percent of the people who I direct to the form,” Adams said.

Build forms that are as unique as your business

When Adams secured a large new client earlier this year, the company asked whether a white-labeled version of Repair Pricer’s order form could be integrated into their website so it didn’t look out of place.

It’s a common, yet potentially time-consuming request that wound up being a walk in the park for Adams, with the help of the Form Designer in Jotform’s Form Builder. This tool allows you to give your form a personal touch by adding a business logo, changing the background color, adjusting the font settings, or modifying the line spacing.

If you have some programming experience, you can code CSS into the Form Designer to have more control over how your form is displayed.

“They [customers] don’t realize it’s not part of the website because the process is seamless,” Adams said.

“They’re already going to someone they trust, so when they see the form, especially when it’s white-labelled, they have no idea it’s not from that website,” he said.

Jotform users who pay for bronze, silver, and gold plans can opt to remove Jotform’s branding from their forms; however, users with a free, starter plan don’t have this option.

Youtube Embed Poster: gvToadZ7NC8

After clients upload a home inspection form and pay for those services in the same form, a webhook integration with Jotform delivers submitted information to Repair Pricer’s database. Once Repair Pricer processes this data and creates a repair estimate, the information is sent to SendGrid, which delivers the repair estimate to the client.

“The good thing about SendGrid is that we’re able to track deliverability and open rates,” Adams said.

Automate your work with autoresponders

When he first started Repair Pricer, Adams relied on Jotform’s autoresponder feature to send his staff submitted information from customers.

Employees, in turn, would process the information and send an email back to customers with the repair estimate that they ordered.

With the help of Repair Pricer’s software developer, Adams set up a workflow that uses Jotform’s conditional logic feature to send different autoresponders based on responses that customers select in their order form.

“I really like Jotform’s little extra plug-ins that make it super easy for people like me,” Adams said.

Even before Repair Pricer had a developer, Adams “was able to deploy, essentially, a pretty sophisticated payment collection system.”

Every customer who fills out a Repair Pricer order form will receive a payment receipt from Stripe and a confirmation email that’s linked to Repair Pricer’s support ticket system — if they have a support question, they can simply reply to the confirmation email.

A separate autoresponder, meanwhile, is sent to a customer’s Realtor, if their email address was provided in the order form.

Depending on what services a customer needs, the autoresponder feature may also send an email that asks Repair Pricer’s outsourced vendors to reach out to a customer.

“We use Jotform to automate a lot of the work that used to be done manually,” Adams said.

You can even require that form responders complete certain questions — found in the Form Elements section of the Form Builder — before they can submit your form.

“I’m not a developer and don’t have any programming knowledge, but I’m pretty tech savvy, so I think that somebody like that is able to build a tool with Jotform,” Adams said.

“It’s almost like building software, if you know what you’re doing,” he said.

Darin is a content marketer who's passionate about disrupting perceptions, solving problems, and helping people be more productive. Outside of the office, he is a rush-hour straphanger, adventure seeker, coffee drinker, and frequent traveler.

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