HomeAdvisor,Angie's List

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

  1. weeze

    weeze LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,903

    a waste of time and money. all of the sites like that are.

    they all want you to pay them money and the leads they give you are often out of your area and so forth.

    my advice is never do anything you have to pay for first in order to get customers other than normal advertising like newspaper, billboards, fliers, and so forth.

    all the internet garbage is a scam for the most part.

    maybe if you live in los angeles, new york, or atlanta things like that may work since it's very populated but if you don't live in a big city then it's just not worth it.
  2. cotyledon

    cotyledon LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 544

    Angie's list is the worst. I advertised there for years they burnt me. I like google reviews better now. More real
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  3. Exactly. I don't do the Big Deals either. Complete loser.

    I dunno. I have been happy with the results so far on AL. I do live in a predominantly affluent area though so that may play a big role in it...
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  4. herler

    herler LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,144

    Oh well all you had to say was the words Service Magic, that's all I needed to know.

    And, I had figured Angie's List as some kind of "I am paying for the privilege of being abused" type of deal.
    Hell, I can go get abused for free.

    Why I switched off Windows and went with Linux lol
  5. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,841

    I in a fairly affluent community as well. And pretty good sized population. The thing I've noticed the most with AL (aside from many of their members feeling entitled) is that they shop around a little more than customers who come from our other sources (e.g. our website, referrals, previous customers). And they are more price-sensitive. Since we're typically the most expensive bid people get when they get several bids, we typically don't win that game. The game we win is when people are more interested in our company, our work, our reputation. We land those jobs no problem. But when someone is just comparing 3 companies based on their Angie's List profile and then by price too - we generally don't win that battle. So we get a lot of leads from AL. Just don't land too many of those leads. So we consider them poorer quality leads than most of the others we get.
  6. I've found the exact same thing. The jobs I got were solely because of my reputation and reviews. I'm higher priced compared to most around here and like you said I don't win that game. But the ones I do get the people are so easy to deal with and just have you do the work. I do agree that a lot of the members feel entitled. I've also noticed that people don't compare apples to oranges.

    I gave an estimate to one guy for landscaping for certain size plant material. I never heard back from him and drove by his house one day cause I picked up a job and now a maintenance account from someone else in his neighborhood. He had the work done but used smaller plant material. Frustrating causei would have priced smaller material if his budget was less.
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  7. Do you have any suggestions on how to weed the people out over the phone who are just getting bids and probably going with the cheapest company? I am getting sick of running around to people who either aren't totally serious or are just getting 5 bids...
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  8. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,841

    I hear that! A lot of companies would tell you to screen your calls a lot more before going out. And some of my local competitors who do similar quality and price work as us do that, I know for sure. It works well for them. Allows them to focus just on the more serious customers. They will tell half of their callers that it sounds like it's not the right fit and not provide a bid. I personally don't believe in turning people away. I have a problem not giving people a chance. I feel it's a little unfair. Also, some of our best jobs come out of leads that I would have turned down because over the phone they didn't sound like much. So I hate to lose those because I mis-judged over the phone.

    So we combat this issue in a different way than some companies. First, we do screen the client in a few different ways. But not to turn them down, just to decide who gets the lead. There are 4 different estimators at our company. One who bids very small to medium jobs (anything from clean-ups to smaller $1000-$5000 install jobs) and then 3 of us who bid mostly larger install jobs. So the screening is to determine who gets the lead. We don't turn down a lead, typically. But we might not send our top sales guy on the bid if it's just a small job or if it's in an area we don't normally land jobs in or if the home value is fairly low.

    So one thing we look at is the value of the home on Zillow. The receptionist is looking this up as the customer is talking to them. If it's a $600,000+ home, then that's likely to be a very good lead for us. A Sr. estimator would get that lead. If it's a home valued at $400,000, then that's a decent lead, but would go to a Jr. estimator. If it's less, then the Jr. estimator gets it too, but is made aware that it's a low home value.

    Second thing we're looking for is what area of town it's in. Certain estimators prefer to get leads in certain areas. Also, that tells us a lot toward the % chance of landing that lead. We have more success in certain areas. So again, if it's an area that we don't normally land a job in, we probably aren't going to send a Sr. estimator out.

    There are other criteria too, that we're looking for. But I wouldn't discuss them all in an open forum. Maybe PM me and we could discuss it more.

    Then once we're on site and meet with the client we try to figure out pretty quickly whether it's a hot lead, they have the money, their excited to work with us, etc. or whether they're just shopping around and/or can't afford us. If we get the impression they can't afford what they want done or are just shopping us then we try to minimize time spent from that point forward. We'll issue a Put-Up-Or-Shut-Up. For instance, we tell them they're going to need to pay $XXX for a design first. If they say, "Great. Let's get started." then we have a fish on! If they say, "Oh, I don't know. That's a lot of money. And some of the other guys I talked to said they've give me a free design." then that tells us it's not a great lead. At that point, we'll just say that it's our policy to get a design first and they'll usually just say, "Ok. We'll think about it. Thanks for coming out." And all we've wasted is maybe 45 minutes, including drive time.

    Another Put-Up-Or-Shut-Up is we'll just guestimate the project right then and there. We'll say, "Well, for what you're describing, that's going to be in the range of $20,000-$30,000." And then just wait to see what they say. If they say, "Ok. That is around what we were thinking." Then great! Fish on! We'll spend more time creating a custom bid and trying to sell them. But if they say, "Oh no. That's way over our budget." then we discuss maybe some items we could remove and see if we can make it work. But if not, we part ways and we haven't wasted too much time.

    I know one of my competitors tries to get the customer to describe the job in as much detail as possible and then they insist on getting a budget number from the client. If the client won't offer it, they say, "Well, maybe sit down with your spouse and talk it over. Then give us a call back when you have a budget in mind." Once they get that number, then they decide if the budget is reasonable, based on the description of work that needs to be done. If it sounds fairly reasonable, they will set up an estimate appt. If not, they tell them it's probably not a good fit and they skip that bid. So that may work for you too.

    I just figure giving lots of bid is part of the trade. All of us who are estimators see a good 2-5 customers a day. I see a few less these days. Trying to take a break, having worked 60+ hours for 18 years. So I only take 1-2 per day. But until this year, I was up there too. We all give a lot of bids each day. We just get really efficient at doing it.
  9. Dang...I guess I'm doing things right cause what you described is exactly what I do. I've been telling people over the phone who want landscaping that I meet with them for free to get an idea what they are looking for but I charge a minimum of $150 for a design. That has weeded some out which is good but I still am not weeding all of them out.

    Again, the jobs I'm getting are from people that say man you have such great reviews. I land 90% of those. I'm trying to figure out how to land the price comparer better. Trust me, I sell myself well and feel confident in what I do.
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  10. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,841

    Well, the main trick to that is to get the customer focused on other things than price. If we're going to play the price game, I'm going to lose. But I'll compare our company against our competitors any day on things like warranty, portfolio, reference list, reviews, ratings, awards, years in business, experience, attention to detail, professionalism, etc. So I just try to get the customer focused on those things. A lot of times that makes the difference and we win the job. But you can't win them all. So we do our best to get their minds of price and on to these other things. We regularly win bids even when we were the highest bid out of 3. But we regularly lose them too. Some people you just can't win over. But I'm going to try my best to win over everyone. That's the way I do it, just focusing on our strengths.

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