Internet Referral Web Sites… Any Good?
I’m curious how well internet referral sites work and if someone could share their experience with me?
I recently had a customer refer me to a web site (internet referral site) that does just that – when Joe or Mary Sue HO logs in a clicks the type of work needed done, the site sends me the referral which I then pay for.
Anyone familiar with this, or have an experience with it you could share? ….Were the leads any good? Work in your area? Was it worth it and did it help your company?
It sounds like it works from how they explain it but I’d like some feedback from some fellow Tradesmen if I could before I pull the trigger.
Thanks in advance!
We've been using Service Magic with unfortunatley very poor results. In about 6 months of use, we've had about 7 inquiries. We resond IMMEDIATELY and make contact with the folks. Out of the 7, 5 never responded to our reply and the other two thought our ballpark figures were too high for their liking. They inquired about new custom home construction.
So, we have been getting "hits" but I wouldn't say its been really worth it as it hasn't resulted in any bona fide work. The other five have just been folks "surfing and clicking".
No offense to the SM folks as it is a well-run program. I just think its too easy for potential clients to sit there and click away when they really may have no real intention of building anything. Cyber tire-kickers if you will.
Just my expetrience of course as I know some guys here have said they have had really good results.
Mike, I'm curious about your 7 inquiries in 6 months... Do you live in a populated area?
Just trying to draw comparisons to determine what I could expect. .. I live in the MPLS/ St.Paul area- well populated.
Thanks for the help.
I live in Tampa (quite populated). As I said, we haven't had very good results from it but I have to say the service provided by Service Magic has been good if that makes any sense. (Good service just poor responses).
Check with the folks from SM as I believe they just charged us a flat rate for unlimited hits over a certain time frame. Still not worthwhile for us but maybe a good choice for you.
I guess my frustration has just been like the last two inquiries. Both sent us the on-line submittal and their budgets matched what we think we can build a house for. Well, we write them a nice response, refer them to our web site for more info about us (http://www.oakrb.com) and offer to meet with them in person to discuss their project (never mentioning any fee for this or anything) yet we never heard back from them. (Maybe they didn't like our web site or seeing my picture there?...I always wished I was a better-looking guy <G>) My hideous looks are killing our business!
Definite, point and clickers. Probably some person just "dreaming" about their new house at the expense of about an hour of my company time and money.
All part of the business I know but I would honestly have to say SM has not been a rewarding investment to our business like we thought it was going to be. I do know a few other guys have said they generated work from it but unfortunately we haven't.
Hope this helps
Maybe they were picturing Buddy showing up with a set of nail bags on, while their pet cats freaked!"...never charged nothing for his preaching, and it was worth it, too" - Mark Twain
Thats great Huck! :)
Thanks again fellas! - and Mike for following up with the population thing.
Anyone out there have a success story from listing their company on internet referral sites?? Or are they keeping you too busy to post here? ;-)
I'd like to know if it actually works out for some people and if you don't mind sharing your experience with it.
As a subsequent follow up (and I'm not trying to bash the service as some guys here have said it works) but...
Yesterday we got another inquiry and of course jump on it to reply. Well, the submittal was a bogus email address and phone number! I thought it looked suspicious as it said he wanted a 5k sq. ft house on a 1/4 acre lot and had a $650k budget. So I guess some folks get off "prank submitting" to Service Magic and other referral sites?
Maybe it was our competiton just trying to give us some grief? ;)
You are in Tampa right? And you are having a hard time finding work? I thought there was a serious shortage of skilled trades there?
I talked to a guy in Dallas that said he would sell a job a week through SMaster--but he ended up being a flakey dude.
I think it's like phone book. Give me phone book leads to deal with for a couple of weeks and you will see one disgruntled salesman--likely livid. Selling against 3 or 10 other guys IMHO is a waste of time.
I've had guys trying to sell with a long distance number. (never works-people want someone local).
I've had guys trying to use the internet to sell rurally--they need to lower expectations, it's hit and miss that way.
Some guys insist we give them all their leads in start up situations. I know the internet kept me busy installing for about 5 years--now I don't have time to do any installations.
What I can say sir--you have a nice looking website, but you need more high res photos of what you do best. Features people will fall in love with. You can't sell high end decks with one photo of a dock... and selling houses for half a mil... requires salesmanship. Great photography of houses you have done already. Get an SLR Digital and go wild.
Good Luck Mike--
GardenStructure.com~Build for the Art of it!
These sound like 'searching for the lowest bidder' type sites.
Thanks fellas for the the info. Mike, you hit one of my biggest concerns on the head - "Tire Kickers" - or as I believe I called them, "point & click pipe dreamers."
Service Magic is actually the website in question and the woman I spoke with was very nice and had her stuff together. However, the idea of my credit card getting billed every time a "lead" shows up in my email is a little concerning. I guess I'm afraid that my credit card will be de-laminating in my wallet from half-way across the country.
It would be nice to get a little info about the job and then decide if you wanted to purchase the lead, instead of being automatically billed for anything and everything that comes my way.
Anyway, I guess I still have to think about it and if anyone else wants to weigh in on the subject it's appreciated.
HAPPY TURKEY DAY.
Edited 11/18/2006 12:07 am ET by Minnesota Builder
In the last two years, I used several websites to refer to me businesses to help solve my water infiltration problem. I sent contacts to about 25-30 businesses and got 3 responses. Unfortunately, both were what I might call shade-tree contractors.
Additionally, I made a lot of effort outside of using referral services and contacted another 20 or so contractors, of which three responded. The last one was the charm. And while they only addressed a portion of the problem that portion worked and I'd give them high marks as a result.
Unfortunately, I think these referral places are compensating-based schemes with a business model based on successful referrals. In other words, they get a fee from someone if you respond post-service to one of their referrals. What is silly is that I asked for a roofer and two of their referrals were painters. And that one roofer was a shade tree wannabe.
I think that if you are good, really good, then your work advertises itself. I've recommended the metal roof that worked for me to several people, and also their general contractor. Your mileage may vary, though.
Let me tell my experience from the other end.
As a homeowner, a few years ago I tried to use one of the services that was heavily advertised. I honestly cannot remember which one it was.
I had a specific project in mind, which was rather small. The site I described it in detail, and pretty accurately. I got email replies from three firms, asking me to call them and one call directly. Two of the firms were too far from my house to do such a project, one said it was too small, and the third actually came out, said he would bid, and that was the last I heard of him.
So, it seems that these sites have the following problems:
John, that was our experience too. We had a small (100 SF) concrete job and even though many of these guys had the "no job too small" tag line, none of them were interested when they actually looked at the details. We live in an area where the housing market is (was?) hot and it seems every guy with a tape measure and nailgun is busy working as a sub. I guess I can't blame them for wanting steady work, but it's sure not going to help my attitude when things slow down and they come looking for work on those "small" jobs.
We use Contractor.com. They send an email after a homeowner has gone on the site and described their project. Then we go to the site and get the homeowners description but no contact info. If we are interested we can buy the lead. It's $50.00 for a new house and goes down from there.
We've purchased two for new homes and haven't gotten any work from either.
First one wanted a 6000 sq.ft. house on Lake Erie. Turned out to be an executive from Stanley Tools. We met face to face once and went over his rough plans that he was working with an architect on. Meeting seemed to go well. He said he had changes to make and would get back to me when they were finished. I emailed him every month for about 3-4 months. Every time the plans weren't quite done yet. The last email he said they decided to put the project on hold.
Second one was for a 1200 sq.ft. house in b.f.e. Just got the word yesterday we would not be getting that one due to the fact that in our estimate I had accidentily included carpet in the bedrooms when the HO wanted laminate only due to dogs. The woman was actually very upset with me over this and was nearly yelling at me saying I didn't listen to her. I had a bad feeling about her from the start anyway. I'll keep my eye on the property and see if anything does get built there.
I can usually count on having one email lead on Monday morning. HO's do their looking on the weekends I guess.
I see we have the same sort of potential clients even though we are 1200 miles apart! ;) Those stories sound so familiar.
But back to the point of the thread. I like the idea where you can pay by the job but $50. seems kind of steep to me unless of course I was able to charge for an estimate...which we don't. I know, I know whole other thread there.
I know $50.00 is a little steep for me too. But it looked like we were headed for a slow down so I thought I'd give it a try.
I think the next lead would have to sound pretty good for me to bite again.
Here's a couple of pages of results:
hey fellow Minnesooootan! where about's are you? I'm up in Albertville and do almost all my work down in the west metro.
I subscribed to Service Magic about 3 months ago. I've had about 16 referals and have signed 5 of them, the most recent being last night. I debated long and hard to sign up for bestcontractor.com, since they heavily advertise on the radio stations I listen to and hit the demographic I want to work in. After talking to one of their reps and finding out I had to pay $1200 for the first 3 months, and they couldn't really tell me how many hits I would get, I quickly retreated.
Don't know how I got hooked up with service magic...but they called me and told me they only charge me for leads they send me, the biggest cost per lead being $45. I also set up a monthly cap that will not allow them to send me more than wish to pay for. and, I can put my account on "hold" if I'm to busy to respond. So far, I'm happy with them.
What kind of stuff do you do? I'm always looking for another guy to farm some work out to.
btw...don't bother with bidoverme.com...the advertise on craigslist and are a joke...cheap, but a joke nonetheless.
knowledge without experience is just information.... Mark Twain
Politicians, like diapers, need to be changed often...and for the same reason. (the rear chrome part of some old guy's car)