This past year has brought many improvements to SignsearchPRO, changes that have been implemented based on valued feedback and feature requests received from PRO users. It’s been a busy year for VCG and PRO, but one that has resulted in record numbers of users and contractors. In the process of obsessing over lines of code and delivering results to our advertisers, we’ve realized that your input helps to shape our product roadmap as we continue to develop the best cloud-based vendor management system, a service that goes beyond simply “search” and builds relationships that last for years. Thank you for all your support.
It’s no secret that we continue to work at protecting the integrity of the data in PRO, while, at the same time, ensure we’re delivering on our promise to provide the most comprehensive, accurate, and valuable network of sign companies in the US and Canada. There’s also nothing new about the fact that PRO is built on the foundation of sending email communication to validate user activity and support our advertising revenue model. Unfortunately, we’ve recognized a high incidence of data scraping (copying sign company profile data) that includes copying phone number information off sign contractor profiles, information, we assume, to be used to support internal databases, as well as to establish initial contact with sign contractors outside of PRO. While there’s no doubt there are other, arguably more legitimate uses for the phone number, the net result is that we can’t associate this to support user activity. More importantly (at least more appropriately), the “bottom line” is that my company’s revenue model is based on selling advertising opportunities to local sign companies. We promise, in fact guarantee, that their advertising dollars will result in legitimate bid opportunities from users like you. Contacting our advertisers via telephone doesn’t give us the opportunity of providing the metrics we need to back our guarantee. Telling the advertiser that you “found them on Signsearch” doesn’t carry the guarantee far enough either. The only qualitative method is through email communication.
As of October 15th, we will no longer be providing a phone number in a sign contractor’s profile for our basic PRO user plan. This measure is necessary to ensure that email is the primary method of communication (and again, it remains a requirement of using PRO). Should your company require that the phone number is available, we will now offer a paid subscription to PRO ($20/user/mth). Both the free and paid subscriptions are provided at the company level, meaning that all users within a company’s PRO instance must be under the same subscription plan.
Let me provide a few comments on the paid PRO subscription.
- First, this isn’t a new revenue model for VCG. It can’t be because there simply aren’t enough PRO companies/users to support the significant expense of providing such a great service. Our revenue needs to come from the advertisers.
- Second, providing continued (and now paid) access to the phone numbers doesn’t provide any relief from our data protection algorithms. If you’re sending legitimate email communication through PRO then you shouldn’t experience any disruptions to your service. If, on the other hand, you’re simply using PRO as an “online directory” to search and then copy data, then we’re losing value on every visit you make and you need to find another solution.
- Third, there are far more productive reasons why you want to initiate communication via email than there are for trying to reach someone by telephone.
- Finally, from PRO’s perspective and in the overwhelming majority of cases, you don’t need the phone number for initial contact with the sign contractor. If you have follow up communication that is easier handled by a phone call, the sign contractor, in all likelihood, will have provided you with their phone number in their return communication. If not, we recommend sending them another email and asking them for follow-up. If that doesn’t work, let us know and we’ll follow-up with them on your behalf.
On behalf of my company, we sincerely appreciate your support of our services. We are committed to continuing to improve on the best cloud-based sign vendor management service, backed by world class support, and at no cost to you.