HomeAdvisor,Angie's List

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by macaw, Apr 5, 2014.

  1. brandonppr

    brandonppr LawnSite Member
    from tn
    Posts: 57

    Also, I am paying for leads that are sent to my competitors as well. I would rather spend money on leads that get sent to me only, promote my website rank, and put me in front of more customers which leads to more name recognition.

    By using them, I am promoting their website, getting my leads sent to competitors, and getting no exposure except for the customer requesting the lead. All at a higher price.
     
  2. herler

    herler LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,144

    I think of Angie's list as a paid version of Craigslist and a little bit better since money's involved but...

    I mean this is my 13th year, I've gotten pretty good at "reading between the lines," when customers call...
    I know how to tell the sour apples from the sweet ones, most of the time...

    And unfortunately it burns me to hear callers using disqualifier cards when they call me.
    You know, things like "it's a SMALL lawn..."
    And I don't mind hearing one or two little "hints" that translate to "we don't want to spend MUCH MONEY!!!"
    But when it's one after the next, and I'm paying for it?

    Yup.
    Certainly you can land a few good ones, but it's no free ride on easy street either.

    Way I see things maybe I can't do better, but at least I don't have to pay for it.


    All that having been said...
    It WOULD open the door to a customer base that you might not be able to tap otherwise.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2014
  3. I've had great success with AL so far. I'm comin up on a year. I pay $171/mo and it puts me in front of 10-K members in my area. So far I've gotten:
    $2500 cleanup
    $5700 install
    $2300 install that led to a maintenance account of $110/mo for EOW service year round
    $400 palm cleanup that is turning into a big landscape install

    I've got another nice install in the works and I'm getting plenty of calls.
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  4. There are cheapos and people that get tons of bids on AL. But the people that have hired me didn't get any other bids and hired me on great referrals. All those jobs were high margin jobs.
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  5. recycledsole

    recycledsole LawnSite Gold Member
    from MD
    Posts: 3,231

    I don't do it because people are fond of posting bad reviews. get 1 emotional person and you have a bad reputation.
     
  6. Not totally true. On AL, if you don't do work for the person and theyleave a bad review Iit Iisn't weighed much. If you do the work and they leave a bad review, your other good reviews should show other people that one person is more than likely a flake.
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  7. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Male
    Posts: 7,603


    So you think that leads that come to your personal phone and email are yours and yours only? that none else has gotten called by these people?
     
  8. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,835

    I have extensive experience with both of them. Probably more than anyone else on Lawnsite, I'd venture to say.

    We used Home Advisor until fairly recently. And used them back when they were Service Magic before that. And used them back when they were Handyman Online before that. So that's how far back I go with Home Advisor.

    Home Advisor is good at creating leads if you live in a very populated area. You will get a fair amount of leads from them, regularly, throughout most of the year. The more categories you're signed up for, the more leads you'll get. For many years we were signed up for a good 10 categories or so (Landscaping, Landscape Design, Pavers, Retaining Walls, Lawn Care, Landscape Maintenance, Lighting, and more....) Over the years as we grew and became one of the more expensive companies in town, our closing percentages started to go down for many of the categories. So we would slowly pull one or two categories each year. For the last few years we got to where the only category we got leads from them was Irrigation System Repair. And eventually - maybe 18 months ago - we got rid of that too and haven't gone back to them since.

    I break down pretty much everything you need to know about Home Advisor customers in a nutshell: If your prices are on the low end of the market, if you are able to answer the lead right away (e.g. within an hour or two) and if you are able to show up and give them a bid right away (e.g. that day or tomorrow) then you will definitely benefit from getting leads from them. You won't land every lead. But you can land enough work to make the lead fees worth it. If you don't meet these 3 criteria, you're wasting your time with Home Advisor.

    Now on to Angie's List - the bane of my existence! We have a Love-Hate relationship with them. I've already written pretty extensively about Angie's List here on Lawnsite in the past. But I'll try to summarize: First, Angie's List is not something you should ignore, especially if you're trying to build a good reputation for your company and/or trying to grow your company. If you have plenty of customers and don't really care what people think of your company, fine. Blow them off. But if not, you really ought to care about Angie's List. Because whether you like it or not, there are a LOT of people who use AL and those people will leave reports about your company. Others who read AL will read those reports and decide whether or not to call you for service based on those reports. So you really ought to care what is said there. It can either lead to a lot of calls (if you have a lot of good reviews) or it turn off a lot of people who were interested in your company (if you have bad reviews). So at the very least, a savvy business owner should protect their reputation by making sure they have good reviews on AL.

    The next question beyond that is whether you should advertise with them. 3 years ago, I would have said yes. But after having done it for 2 full years I would caution most companies against advertising there - for many reasons. First, the ROI just isn't as good as other kinds of advertising. A good Google Adwords or BING/Yahoo Ads campaign for the same amount of money each month will get you a lot more leads than you'll get from advertising on AL. Second, AL customers are manic. Sometimes they're great, have a ton of money, and easy as heck to work with. So then you're like "Hallelujah! Thank you AL for getting me this amazing customer!" But many other times they're nit-picky, unreasonable, overly demanding, entitled (expecting a discount), and will hold your review hostage until you meet a bunch of crazy demands. When you get one of those, you're like, "Damm you AL for sending this customer my way!!!" On average, it's just not worth it, IMO. We get a lot better customers, on average, from our other sources of marketing than we get from AL.

    Third reason I give caution against AL is I believe they empower the customer too much. It's not a fair deal for the contractor. Too much power is in the consumer's hands. And I'm not talking about the reviews. I'm talking about this: A customer leaves a negative review, you get to give a rebuttal. Should be done right there. They had their story, you had yours, readers should be able to decide for themselves. But no! The customer gets to leave ANOTHER rebuttal, and they can lie all day long about what really happened. But do you get to answer back? No! The contractor only gets one response. That's not fair and I won't support a company who doesn't give me the same rights they give the consumer. Second example; the customer gets to leave photos of their job, but you do not. Sometimes a customer will leave a photo of their yard - 6 months after we did the job! Which is totally unfair. And even though I have photos of what it looked like when we finished, we're not allowed to post OUR photos. Again, unfair to the contractor.

    One final reason I no longer advertise with Angie's List: It didn't increase our sales much. We track every lead, where the call came from. We ask every caller. The couple years before we started advertising with AL, they accounted for 5% of the jobs we did that year. Those leads just came from people reading our good reviews, even though we weren't advertising yet. The next year we started paying for their advertising. Sales from AL went up to 7% of total sales. We a lot of money each month just for a measly 2% increase in sales. The following year I actually increased our monthly expenditures for AL advertising. We became one of their bigger accounts in our area. You'd think we'd get some better results, right? Nope. Still just 7%. So last December we stopped advertising with them. So far this year, they've accounted for 6% of our leads! And that's without advertising! So the truth is: you don't really have to pay for advertising in order to get leads from them. All you really need are a lot of good reviews. Their customer gravitate toward the companies in their area who have the most good reviews. Since we have a lot, we still get a lot of calls. I wouldn't waste anymore money with them, given the experiences I've had. But we still do monitor our reports with them and make sure we always get good reports. They can still provide good jobs sometimes. I've landed big $50,000 landscape jobs JUST because of our reports on AL. Your company's reputation can be very lucrative or very costly, depending on how you manage it.
     
  9. alldayrj

    alldayrj LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,768

    Thanks for that reply jim. Very helpful. Did you ever do big deals or store front deals through angie?
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  10. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,835

    I did do the Angie's List "Honor Roll" advertisement several times. We still qualify for that most of the time. But I didn't see any increase in calls at all from it so we never do that anymore.

    I never did the Big Deal. IMO, anything like that (a loss leader) is only for desperate businesses. We've been growing at a pace of 25%-45% each year for the last 4 years. So I don't see any reason at all to offer loss leaders in order to attract new business. Attracting new business hasn't been a problem.

    Second reason I never did the Big Deal is you have to give so much away! It's a big loss! With AL or Groupon or Living Social or any of them, it's basically all the same. You take some single service (let's say it's a $100 sprinkler system tune-up) and you offer it for 50% off. So now the customer gets it for $50, instead of $100. But Angie's List, Living Social, Groupon wants their cut too. SO they take 50% of what's left. Now I'm left with $25 for something I'd normally get $100 for. At that point, you're seriously losing money. The only good news is a few of them will never call and you get to keep their $25. But for the 80% who do call, you're losing your butt on that call - HOPING that maybe you'll get more of their business down the road. I just don't do business that way. Don't need to.

    I haven't looked into the StoreFront Deals too much. So I cannot comment on that. Just something I never felt we needed to do.
     

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