Learn about hidden home service website referral fees?
This morning’s post is in the interest of being open and honest …
For the most part, new clients find us either through the traditional means of asking a friend or neighbour, their realtor, asking through the local building supply store or of course like many businesses these days we get calls or emails originating from finding us online. Also, people see us driving around in our company vehicles or parked up on a job site. None of this should come as a surprise as this is pretty typical for any established professional business.
What has gradually been happening more & more in the last few years are “lead generation companies” popping up from here, there, and everywhere. They may call themselves something else but that’s basically what they are. People who know me well know I call it as it is. With me what you see is what you get. This is portrayed as a slightly sarcastic Scotsman who is ultimately extremely passionate about this line of work.
The reality of online home service websites that connect you to the real contractor
Some of these online companies portray to you that they are able to provide quotes from multiple vetted contractors without you even having to leave your couch. That may be true, however, let me put it this way to you to explain how you might be paying more fees in the end with this type of so-called “convenient service”.
With home renovations, you are not buying an off-the-shelf product (an appliance, a sink, a door, a light fixture), but rather you are investing your money and trust in a solution that is catered specifically for your home, your design taste, your budget, or your family. How can a company honestly provide the best solution with an accurate quote if they have never seen your home “in the flesh” and have only looked at photos of your home?
How can you get that feeling of trust in your contractor if you decide to hire without having first met? Try to think of it like a dating website; not everyone is as glamorous as their profile photo & avoiding a personality clash with your contractor is far more important than you may imagine.
Sure we can sometimes get a very rough idea of what may be involved from some really good photos sent by clients, but usually not. Reputable general contractors need to be physically there to see the space for ourselves. If I was thinking of paying someone a significant chunk of money to redesign & renovate part of my home I’d want them to take the time to see it first hand before I made any decisions at all as to who to hire.
Learn the truth about general home services website referral fees
We get contacted on a weekly basis by various “lead generation companies” insisting we are missing out by not signing up for their home services oriented websites. Some general home service websites advertise online that we are already “part of their trade network” (completely untrue). What they do not convey clearly and openly in many cases to homeowners to see is the amount of money they will charge the contractor for these leads or the websites charge a percentage of any confirmed jobs.
The additional costs of booking through a general home services website or directory are far more significant then you might know. These costs are not something a professional contracting business can sustain for any length of time without passing the cost on to the client.
When we established this company (and there are many others I know who feel the same) we decided that paying directly for leads to a 3rd party was not something we believe in. These 3rd party lead generation websites say they check the companies they recommend, but that’s rarely anything more than making sure the company is licensed and does not have a poor history with the likes of the Better Business Bureau. Only some may ask for a criminal background check of the company owner.
I would just wish to tell you that when you are looking for a contractor or any person/service for your home, please factor into your decision-making process who is paying for the “middle man”. Is there one? What does their “vetting process” really involve & what happens in the situation that there was a misunderstanding of scope when the online quote was provided, who is to blame for this?
Ultimately it still comes down to a certain amount of feeling of trust with your chosen contractor. Although we pride ourselves in being very tech-savvy we still believe that a face-to-face meeting is the best way to start the home renovation process. Building a rapport with a new client and gaining access to the true nature of a project in person, in our opinion, just works better. This process does not need to be re-invented.