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50 Best Workplaces of the Year 2020

HomeStars Appoints Shir Magen as CEO: Besides Ensuring its Hiring Practices are Fair and Equitable, this Toronto-based Company, Lauded for its Legendary Services, Goes Above and Beyond Upholding Healthy Work Culture

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“HomeStars has become the go-to place for Canadian homeowners to research, connect with, and hire home service professionals for all of their home renovation or repair projects.”

HomeStars is Canada’s oldest and largest marketplace connecting homeowners with home service professionals. It has more than 60,000 home service professionals and is visited by more than eight million Canadian homeowners annually.

While HomeStars remains a strong resource to research about home service professionals and read verified reviews, it launched a matching tool to connect ready-to-hire homeowners to verified home service professionals in their neighborhood. This free service can get homeowners up to five quotes in minutes. The tool was launched in 2018.

In 2020, HomeStars was ranked three times by Great Place to Work® in the following categories: ‘Honoured with Best Workplaces™ in Canada’, ‘Best Workplaces™ for Inclusion’, and ‘Best Workplaces™ Managed by Women’.

HomeStars was acquired by Denver-based HomeAdvisor in 2017. Both, along with Angie’s List, are now operating businesses of ANGI Homeservices Inc, the largest global network of home service companies.

Nancy Peterson founded HomeStars in 2006 and was at the helm since its humble beginnings from her kitchen table. She retired on July 31, 2020, and appointed Shir Magen as CEO.

The company is headquartered in Toronto, Ontario.

Shir Magen, HomeStars CEO, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

Q. Do you maintain a database of candidates already pre-screened to accelerate the search process without affecting the quality of your service?

We are growing fast. To facilitate an efficient hiring process, our team uses an applicant tracking system (ATS) for all open roles at the organization. This allows us to keep track of candidates and creates a database of past individuals who have been interested in joining HomeStars. As a result, we can easily reach out to candidates who have applied in the past if we think they might be a good fit for a role. The ATS organizes our recruitment process and is customizable to how we hire at HomeStars. This accelerates our hiring and gives time back to our talent acquisition teams to interview instead of focusing on administrative tasks. As an organization, we continuously review and make improvements to our processes.

We recently refined our hiring processes to ensure they are unbiased by creating more objective criteria for every role we recruit for. We have interview training for all hiring managers to train them on biases and how to limit them in an interview setting. We take pride in ensuring our hiring practices are fair and equitable.  

Q. Do you have a pre-determined cost for services? If yes, tell us in brief about it. If no, tell us how you determine the costs for each service?

For homeowners, HomeStars is a free service. Whether you are using it for research to check reviews of a pro that was recommended to you, get informed from our project cost guides, or be matched with the top available pros in your neighborhood. Our tools are fast, easy, and free for homeowners.

Home service pros can list their business on our directory for free for homeowners to browse. This gets them exposure for their business on Canada’s largest home service directory.

For pros who want even more exposure and connections to project-ready homeowners, they can upgrade their account. This will give them a premium listing that gives them the tools to showcase and grow their online reputation, including customizing their page with a logo, photo galleries, contact details, and most importantly, verification.

These pros can get verified and have a badge appear on their listing (criminal background, credit check, and professional licensing where relevant). These are the top pros in our network that we recommend to homeowners in our matchmaking service.

Q. ‘When people are having fun, they work together better and they produce better work.’ How do you interpret this saying?

As a company, we subscribe to this saying. Our corporate culture has always been at the forefront of our efforts, recognizing that a happy workforce is a productive workforce. This is even more evident during these times.

When hiring, it is of critical importance that the candidate not only complements the team and provides the necessary skill set but, more importantly, that their winning personality and glowing interpersonal skills are a fit for the team. We look for individuals with a high EQ in addition to skills and experience.

The other really important aspect of this is celebrating our team’s diversity and increasing awareness and education of our diversity. This will continue to be a strong focus for our team as we grow to ensure that we learn about each other so that we can share, celebrate, and grow together.

Q. Growing the company based on employees’ passions must be the priority. Do you ask your employees what they are interested in doing and how they would like to see their career unfold?

Our People and Culture team, together with our leadership team, is very focused on the career development of individuals. While we are a team, everyone is treated with respect as an individual. We check in frequently to ensure our employees feel they are on the right path to career development. Many of our employees have been with the company for over 10 years. HomeStars has recently invested in new software that will help managers and our leadership team outline our employees’ career paths more clearly. It will help better organize our performance review program, articulate career progression tracks, and give opportunities to discuss career development. We are excited roll out this program.

Q. A good workplace stresses teamwork while still encouraging individual achievement and creativity. Does your company follow the same strategy?

Yes, absolutely. Teamwork is core to our philosophy at HomeStars. We have many types of teams including the obvious departmental teams, but we place a lot of value in cross-functional teams that come together to progress a core mandate or project. These cross-functional teams provide individuals the ability to contribute their unique knowledge and experience, while also learning from others with different skills and experiences. The outcomes of these are phenomenal.

Individual and team contribution and creativity is acknowledged and rewarded at HomeStars. Employees can submit kudos for their colleagues and that’s how we select an employee of the month. And where possible, we also always try to promote from within, as we believe in helping our stars grow towards their career goals. This has proven to be a major motivator in the organization.

Q. What does the future hold for HomeStars Inc and its employees? Are exciting things on the way?

There are lots of exciting things that we are working on. Our team is constantly growing so employee recruitment and retention is always a focus for us. In addition, we are well on our path of accelerating the growth of our two-sided marketplace across Canada. This will continue to unlock scalable and profitable revenue growth nationally. As we wrap up 2020, we are already planning for an ambitious 2021; we have a lot of really exciting developments planned to continue our mission of helping homeowners hire confidently for their home renovation and repair projects and to help home service professionals grow their businesses in Canada.

Our marketing will continue to focus on growing brand awareness from coast to coast, and our products will continue to evolve with enhanced tools to help homeowners connect with the best pros for their project. On the home service professional side, we will continue to evolve our product with tools and services to help pros grow their businesses by giving them more opportunities for increased exposure to project-ready homeowners, opportunities for quality connections, and tools to help them win the job including showcasing their reputation and verification.

It is an exciting time at HomeStars and although we’re 15 years strong, we’re just getting started.

The Leaders at the Helm of HomeStars

Shir Magen joined HomeStars as VP of Marketing in early 2018. As CEO, appointed recently, she will be working with the HomeStars team to drive the company into its next growth phase. Utilizing her transformational leadership and strategic development expertise, Magen will continue to invest and grow HomeStars in Canada as the leading marketplace connecting homeowners to trusted home service professionals.

Megan Oldfield serves as the Chief Operating Officer of HomeStars. Oldfield has been with HomeStars since 2015 and was formerly in the position of VP, Strategy & Finance. She has been promoted to Chief Operating Officer. In addition to being an instrumental part of the merger & acquisition process with HomeAdvisor, Oldfield has been a driving force in the overall performance of the organization in her role as head of corporate strategy.

“We are well on our path of accelerating the growth of our two-sided marketplace across Canada. This will continue to unlock scalable and profitable revenue growth nationally.”