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I recently decided to try the online lead generator service Home Advisors, to see if it could get my business some good leads since I'm slow this fall. So far I've had 5 leads, 2 of which could be decent additions, but the rest of which were people not sure about what they want, and just want to get a sense of cost or a "blueprint" for permitting...
What are other people's experiences with this service? Worth it for the leads?
I've tried similar services. I think generally you are wasting your time and money. The clients are tire kickers who are looking for a cheap price on blueprints, like you said. I can't really give an accurate price w/I seeing the project, but I have to give a price and pay to see the project.
I've used Home Advisors on and off for a long while. Most of the leads are dead ends - people looking to repair their stoop, or spend $5,000 (fees and construction) to renovate a kitchen. But if 1 lead out of 20 turns into a commission, it's probably a good investment.
The first time we used them(2005-2007), things worked out fine. Lots of bad leads, but enough good ones that it was definitely worth while.
The second time (2009-2011), it was a bust. There were literally no good leads to be had. How much of that was due to the recession? Lots probably, but after a while I decided to stop using them.
If you do use them, one tip - the home owners creating the leads pay nothing, and don't realize that by hitting the 'create lead' button they're costing 3 or 4 architect's $50 each. So people will just be checking out homeadvisors to see how it works, and will create leads with false addresses, false e-mail addresses, etc. The second time we used them, I'm guess that 50% of the leads were bogus. Homeadvisor allows you to report a bogus lead, and they'll refund the lead fee - I never had them object to a lead I challenged - but it's on you to report them.
I suspect that a good amount of homeadvisor's revenue is generated by bogus leads that architects and contractor's don't bother to get refunds for.
I wonder how many of these leads are created by other architects who are trying to gauge the level of competition and learn what others are quoting for fees and estimates. Back before Craigslist, a lot of help wanted ads with anonymous box numbers were fishing expeditions and not legitimate openings, particularly ones that wanted you to send your resume, references and salary history to an unknown post office box.
So far I've actually done ok - more than half my leads have led to work. Half of those the clients are only looking for the minimum permit set. One other is a house addition and another is a clinic. They've also reimbursed 3 of my leads that seemed fake (never answered the phone, email got bounced, etc). Seems they may be improving their service.