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Old 01-21-2010, 11:46 AM
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What are your experiences with lead referrals?

I know a couple of us were talking about this on another thread so I wanted to see what kind of expeiences and input everyone has on these.

A little bit about me and my business. I am a sole-prop running a growing business in Cental Pa with a coverage area that emcompasses about a 60 mile stretch. We cover will g nearly anywhere as long as the work will support it, but we usually keep inside of a 30 mile radius. Started out working for years for other people and when an opportunity arrised I jumped to be a sub-contractor for a larger company. After 8 months it was tough for him to support me as a sub. So I made the leap to go on my own. I had a 4 door blazer and tools. What a way to start. When you have a dream you find a way to get it done. And so I did.
I grew my business from the blazer to a truck with word of mouth advertising and an ad in a local free paper. Started hiring part-time guys. Moved up to two trucks and more equiptment. My son got sick in august of '08 in NC visiting family andbecame deathly ill. I travelled between NC and PA for about 4 months until I decided to start business in NC and that was a whole new experience. New people, new area, new laws.
In January of '09 I was surfing the internet and ran across a lead referral co. I submitted my info and within 2 hours I was contacted by one of their associates. In March of '09 we launched in both NC and in PA. I have to be honest I was very skeptical! When he said in Pa I was looking at around 215 leads in the next month and 15 in NC. I was like SUUUURREE we will.
Our official open lead day was on a sunday. I saw a few come in and was like ok this is cool. By tuesday night I had to turn them off! We had recieved 39 leads from sunday morning to tuesday evening. This was fantastic! The phone was buzzing for three days with text messages giving the name,location, and basic job desc. of what was to be done. I was estatic!
I turned the leads off for about a week. Thats was 39 new customers to contact, 39 new jobs to bid and sell. All on top of existing customers. The company I was with did not charge a monthly fee, but did charge a variable lead fee ranging in price from $5-$50 per lead depending upon what the lead was. The other thing was that when you turn your leads off they are allowed to be off for no more than two weeks at a time.
In the month of april and may we recieved approximately 178 leads from this company. The jobs were in everyone of the areas I chose as an area of work that we cover. Which was a blessing and a curse.
Later in the year I was contacted by another company in whch they charge a $99 monthly fee and you recieve the leads as they come in and you pay only for the ones that you choose to accept. And their lead fees for landscping are $10 and concrete is $35.
We are no longer with the first company and now launching with the second. As of this moment in the middle of january there are 19 open jobs available to be done. We're running with it.

All in all I am glad I experienced the first company. If you are looking for a rapid growth in customers that would be the way I would recommend. The caution I give is this, if you proceed with the first type of company be prepared and consider whats involved in adding anywhere from 5-12 new customers per day. For us it was too much on top of our existing business.

If you are already existing and just wishing to maintain and add to what you have the second would be the way I suggest. Thats the way we are moving. Adding to what we have in more of a consistant growth rather than an explosion.

What have you all tried? What were your experiences? What worked and what didn't? Who would you recommend use it and who not? If you would recommend anyone at all and why not?
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Old 01-21-2010, 02:08 PM
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care to share the two sources you have used?
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Old 01-21-2010, 04:35 PM
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Fine Edge is just really nice Fine Edge is just really nice Fine Edge is just really nice Fine Edge is just really nice Fine Edge is just really nice
I'm curious , too.
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Old 01-21-2010, 05:56 PM
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The first one was Service Magic and the second one where I am working with now is Bob Villa Home contractors/ Renovation experts. I ya want any info on either PM me and I'll give ya all the info on either.
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Old 01-21-2010, 11:29 PM
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to play devil's advocate. Consumer complaints about ServiceMagic
the scam search results for bob villa's lead biz. aren't much different.
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Old 01-22-2010, 11:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mountainx View Post
to play devil's advocate. Consumer complaints about ServiceMagic
the scam search results for bob villa's lead biz. aren't much different.
I looked through a couple of pages of those posts. Its basically a forum where anyone can bitch about goods and bads. I had no problem getting lead fee credits. Which is where its a bogus lead and they credit you back for your lead payment. And when I had people who I couldn't get ahold of Mark,( my agent through SM) called them and got details about status. And the bad ones were credited to my account. And as far as closing....Can you sell? Thats the big thing! If you can't sell your work than there should be no way you should even engage in a referral organization. I was closing 80-85% of the work I bid. And even added work on to the original job.
In everything you do especially in this business is on you! If you are a good salesman you will sell. If you produce visually attractive work people will see and you will get you more work. If you are reasonable and do great work, as well as communicate well. You will do great in anything.
Some of the complaints on that website were people who did not get jobs that they had leads for. Thats on them. With that type of service you have to contact the customer and get an appt. to meet them and bid the work asap. Get in and get the job done while they have the money to do it. I'm seeing that in our regular business as well. Get in and get the work done quickly for the simple fact that at any time they could have a circimstance which changes their financial affairs and they can no longer afford to do the work. I saw it in lawn contracts starting in '08 already.
And where they were talking about multiple contractors bidding on the job. If you live in a large metro area you are gonna have a higher concentration of contractors. Its a fact.
Take it for what its worth, but I had a good experience. We would not have had the expansion that we had this past year had it not been for that service. Quite a few new customer who are now devoted to our services.. And there were a few who won't use us again just because I don't drop customers to take customers. For me I like to treat them all the same and each are equally important. And some people want to be first even though they were later in line of customers. Unless there is an emergency situation that is what a schedule is for.
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Old 01-23-2010, 11:22 AM
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Sounds like you got it all figured out, Chad, so why did you ask your original questions?
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Old 01-23-2010, 03:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kinnanscaping View Post
Sounds like you got it all figured out, Chad, so why did you ask your original questions?
We had been talking to a young guy starting in business and he was talking about where the best bet to put advertising money into was. And I had said that I had gone with less advertising and spent more this way and he had said he had heard too many bad stories about lead referral co. and so I wanted to see what kind of experiences anyone else had, had. If mine was unique or if it was a few sour apples trying to spoil the barrel.
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Old 01-24-2010, 10:57 AM
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I tried Service Magic for probably 4 years. Never got one job out of the service. I went under the landscape design category rather than general landscaping. My thought was I was looking for more deign/build projects rather than can you seed my 10 sq. ft. or trim my shrubs types of projects. That alone helped limit my referrals which I didn't mind as long as the leads I received or good ones. Over the 4 years I had maybe a total of 16 leads. One or two were good leads, quite a few were fake, meaning people were putting in fake names and addresses to see how the website works and the rest were just plain pathetic. ServiceMagic's idea of a qualified lead is someone filled out a contact form on their website. No one actually talks to these contacts before you are charged. That alone would give the service some value. Because they don't contact these leads, I felt the service was no more than valuable than having a listing in Yellow pages. When you are charged for one of these 'qualified' fake leads, you call back and get a credit towards your next lead. It's a round robin type of game. Get a lead, call and get a credit because the phone number is boogus of the people want a drive not landscaping and I don't get involved with laying asphalt. I've known at least 10 contractors in and out of the green industry who have given the process a try and no one lasts more than a year or two. Does that mean I have a high tolerance of pain???
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