If you belong to the ever-expanding network of home improvement professionals, you’ve probably heard of, or use, some of the common home improvement lead generation companies out there. Houzz, Home Advisor, Angie’s List, and Thumbtack are all companies that aid in getting the word out there for home improvement companies. The problem with a lot of these companies is that they piggyback off of the beautiful design work of the clients using the platform, to benefit their own company growth.
Houzz is generally for more premium, high-end design. You might have a tough time competing on Houzz if you are not a very visually pleasing, luxurious brand. The high-end clientele tends to go to Houzz. The initial account is free, but there is also a Pro+ account where you should watch out because you may get some very aggressive notifications from Houzz wanting you to keep up with your account, upselling, etc. You really don’t need to throw your money into the premium services they offer, in fact, don’t. There is no real guarantee for leads with them featuring your designs and projects. I know of a contractor who put over $22,000 into their Houzz business account to not get ONE lead from it. In many instances, your profile only makes them look good, without your best interest in mind.
You may have heard nightmare stories of Home Advisor. It CAN work for smaller handyman companies needing to get off the ground. It’s good to communicate with other companies, but Home Advisor carries thousands of low reviews, despite having an A rating on BBB. Turns out a lot of money has been paid out to reverse poor reviews from companies who have left home advisor. That doesn’t sound like someone with your best interest in mind!
If you DO get a lead through Home Advisor, your best bet is to take that lead out of the app and embrace it outside the realm of Home Advisor. Leverage that lead and see if they have any referrals or other people who may need your assistance. This helps to start generating your own business outside of a lead generation arena.
Getting charged a la carte for leads on Home Advisor is also an issue amongst users. For every ping on your phone that is a new lead, you could be getting charged $30-40 right to your credit card. If you are seeing a lot of fees, for very little payoff, it’s time to get out.
Angie’s List is a great resource for people to find local, top-rated, certified home service pros in a number of services. It does, however, rely pretty heavily on reviews of customers, so a brand new company may not necessarily have luck at first, but it may be worth utilizing the free tool.
Unfortunately, the company was recently acquired by Home Advisor so reviews are starting to trickle in regarding companies having the same issues with Angie’s List as they did with Home Advisor. Again, it’s a free profile, with free review collection tools, and free message center. If you have a good website, with good contact forms, and social media platforms you monitor regularly, you can keep Angie’s List out of the equation by removing new leads from that platform and working with them outside the app.
Thumbtack is a bit more competitive, as you may be getting a lead but competing for it against other companies. It’s like a physical message board where somebody posts that they are looking for this or that, and you have to reach out and snag that lead. I’ve heard of contractors having great success with Thumbtack, but keep in mind it is going to take some due diligence on your part to be competitive in the landscape and grasp those leads as they come in.
A new concept in lead generation, NextDoor is a great tool for the handyman who is just starting out and wants to do some small project-based work within their communities. It’s totally free and totally reliant on neighbors and people in the community. BUT it’s a great way to put yourself out there and get organic lead generation just by putting in the effort.
Making the Most Of it
The important thing is to be active in your own lead generation. You want leads to be knocking on your door, not someone else’s where you need to compete with other companies. Not to say that you shouldn’t use these other sites as well, in fact, go for it! Put your information on all these free platforms and see what happens. You may just hit the right stride with one of these lead generation sites and then it’s just a matter of trimming the fat and canceling the most expensive or the least active generators for your company.
Remember, building your brand equity goes hand in hand with lead generation. Paving your own path in terms of where you get leads, which leads you to chase, and how you gain those leads matters for long term brand equity. When you are relying heavily on home improvement lead generation companies, you are building their brand – when you should put those resources towards building your brand.