Contractors often ask me what I think of third-party lead-aggregation services like HomeAdvisor, Quinn Street, CraftJack, and the like.
In most cases, my response is the same…
Stay away. Far away.
I don’t hold any sort of grudge against these companies. I simply have NEVER heard—in my 15-plus years in contractor marketing—a single remodeler claim to like one of these online lead-aggregation services.
There are a few contractors who tolerate HomeAdvisor. But most can’t stand the company.
The biggest issue contractors have is that HomeAdvisor sells the same lead to multiple contractors. You could compete with anywhere from 3 to 15 other companies for the same job.
This makes lead generation essentially a remodeling contractor version of The Hunger Games—it’s a savage battle to be the last contractor standing to claim the lead.
In many case, lead aggregators don’t even try to hide this. Here is an excerpt from HomeAdvisor’s FAQ page (text in bold is my emphasis):
Q. How does HomeAdvisor work?
A. First we find homeowners looking for help completing home projects and collect information about their project. Our patented ProFinder technology then identifies relevant professionals, taking into account our pros’ availability, service type and location preferences. When wehave a match, we send the homeowner’s information to the matched pro instantly so that he/she can win the job.
So even though you get the lead, you don’t really get the lead. As HomeAdvisor says, you have to “win” the job once they throw the lead your way.
Good luck with that!
My Little Experiment With Lead-Generation Websites
To prove how unpleasant dealing with lead-generation sites can be for both contractors and homeowners, I ran a small experiment: I put myself in the shoes of the average homeowner in need of replacement windows.
I began by searching “CertainTeed Windows” on Google. I figured CertainTeed was a popular brand, so why not.
A lead aggregator called Window Quotes popped up in the results page (notice the time is 4:40 pm):
Results page when I—the dewy-eyed homeowner—searched “CertainTeed Windows.”
Since I was playing the part of the naïve homeowner, I naturally clicked on the ad for the Window Quotes website. And why wouldn’t I?
- Four-and-a-half-star rating.
- Free quotes.
- Apparently “big savings.”
What’s not to like?
Well, once I clicked through to the site, input my contact info, and hit “Submit”… EVERYTHING.
Within SIX MINUTES, my phone had blown up with calls from SIX different local window companies—all looking to set in-home appointments.
Here’s a look at my call history immediately after I filled out the online quote form starting at 4:42 pm—literally two minutes after I filled out the form:
All those red phone numbers are contractors calling me within minutes of my filling out the form.
Things only got worse over the weekend. By the following Monday (four days after I input my info online), I had received 33 phone calls—nine from the same company!—and four emails.
I felt like a fresh bucket of chum thrown into a kiddy pool filled with ravenous sharks.
Why was I getting so many calls?
The homeowner (me, in this case) THINKS they are contacting CertainTeed, when in fact, they are putting their information into a lead aggregator. The lead aggregator then turns around and sends that information—instantly—to the DOZENS of contractors who have paid them for leads.
I don’t blame the contractors in this situation. Like I said, lead aggregators turn lead generation into a bloody battle of Last Contractor Standing. If you’re not vigilant (i.e., a ravenous shark), you lose.
But is all this worth it?
Is it worth fighting 10 other contractors for what is maybe a qualified lead?
Is it worth blowing up an unsuspecting homeowner’s phone to try to set an appointment, when all they want is a little information?
My answer is no. There are much better ways—for both you and the homeowner—to acquire online leads. Ways that don’t involve competing with a dozen other contractors for the same job.
So here is my advice to you, dear contractor, as you consider whether or not to delve into the world of lead aggregators:
Advice #1: Don’t do it. It’s not worth it.
Advice #2: If you insist on it, bring your A+ game and get ready for a dogfight.
Don’t worry—I won’t leave you hanging there. (Not for long, anyway!) Tomorrow, I’ll delve into the details for Advice #2.
© 2018, Rich Harshaw. All rights reserved.