Home Advisor Pro Review: What You NEED to Know

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by Dan Perry on March 17, 2013

Home Advisor PRO is an easy way to start growing your business right away.  However, it’s a very controversial subject with contractor’s.  Some businesses are experiencing massive success with the service while others trash talk it to no end and describe it as a scam.

Should you use the service for your handyman business?  Good question.

In this post, I’m going to discuss the controversial issues surrounding Home Advisor as well as the pros and cons.  I’ll also share my experience and some tips for maximizing ROI with the service formerly known as ServiceMagic.

Why the Controversy?

Issue #1:

At the time of writing this article, they had 575 closed complaints with the Better Business Bureau.  Despite the fact that they have an A+ rating, that’s still a lot of complaints.

This doesn’t bother me considering the fact they have been in business for so long and when you deal with as many customers as they do, you are going to have complaints.  It’s just the way it is.

Issue #2:

Several contractor’s and handymen have found out the hard way that Home Advisor actively builds links in their business’s name pointing back to Home Advisor.  Not only does HA build links back to their own site in the small business’s name, but they also list HA’s phone number.

So, if you sign up for HA, you are giving them the right to use any information on your profile to actively direct people back to their service!  I couldn’t believe it myself until I read their terms of service and then did a quick google of my business name.

Sure enough, I found that my YP.com listing had all of my business information, but the wrong phone number.  Upon dialing that number, I was connected with Home Advisor!  Wow.  Not only that, but they spelled my business name wrong.

Have you ever received an exact match lead?  Then the same thing is likely happening to you.

This is a pretty big issue for me and it definitely hurts Home Advisor’s image in my eyes.  Although it is clearly explained in their terms of service, this is not something they explained when I signed up.  It’s a little deceptive.

However, this issue can me mitigated by simply doing some cleanup work online.  I’m actively seeking these listings out and changing them to reflect my business’s correct information.

One thing I recommend doing before signing up for HA is creating your own online listings.  By doing so you reduce the risk of this happening to you.

Issue #3

Home Advisor recently changed their name from Service Magic.  Why?

Many say that it’s to hide from their bad reputation.  I mean, why else would you throw away years of building a well known brand?

Taken from the Home Advisor Website:  “We changed our name to reflect our commitment to being the #1 resource for home improvement tips, advice and connections.”

I have to admit, it’s a much better name and it will help them resonate with home owners.  They are now branding themselves as an advisor which is more authoritative than just  a magical service provider.

Whether or not they have a good reason to change their name, it still looks bad to those who have had a negative experience working with HA.

The Pros and Cons of Home Advisor

Pros

  • It’s effective.  There’s one majore reason that HA is still in business and that is because it works.  With more and more people turning to the web to find service providers, having a strong online presence is critical.  Home Advisor has an incredibly strong web presence. 
  • Good for new businesses.  Before you can start getting word of mouth business, you need to actually have customers.  HA allows you to leverage their brand to gain trust and get your first clients.  It also allows you to reach customers that you otherwise wouldn’t have the marketing abilities or funds to reach.
  • Easy to manage.  Once you’ve set up your account, it’s very easy to manage.  You can even turn your leads on and off whenever you choose.  This allows you to only use the service when you are slow or trying to expand your business.

Cons

  • Giving up some rights to your brand.  In the terms of service, it clearly states that HA can use any information on your profile to direct links to their site.  This essentially allows them to use your name to promote their business.
  • Bad leads.  I’ve received several leads that were just people price shopping with no interest of actually hiring anybody.  Sometimes, leads won’t even answer the phone.  In some cases a refund will be granted, but I’ve still paid for several bad leads.
  • Can get expensive.  Leads for bigger jobs are expensive and often cost more than $50.  However, for a handyman this isn’t as much of an issue as we usually only sign up for small job leads.

Should You Use Home Advisor?

If you have been reading my monthly reports or have signed up for my newsletter, you probably know that I recommend using HA as a way to jump start your handyman business.

I still believe that it’s very effective and have personally had success using the service.  In my first year of business, I spent $1,152 advertising with HA and gained $4,425 in business directly from leads received.  That doesn’t include the amount of business I received from referrals and return business from these leads.  HA obviously played a significant role in the success of my first year.

However, I don’t agree with some of their marketing tactics, namely how they use a companies name to direct leads back to their website.  This bothers me, but it’s clearly stated in the terms so I can’t be pissed off.  It was my decision to use their services.

That being said, I still view HA as an effective tool to grow a new handyman business and will continue to inform handymen of it’s existence.  Whether or not it’s right for you, that’s something you’ll have to decide.

Quick Tips to Maximize ROI

If you do decide to use HA to grow your business, here are some insights that I’ve gained that will help you close more leads and make more money.

#1:  Call leads immediately

This is the single most important factor to making HA work for you, even more so than having good reviews.  I’ve found that 9 times out of 10, if I call within minutes of receiving the lead, I get the business.  Some customers have even told me that they always choose the first person that calls.

#2:  Only sign up for small job leads

Leads for big jobs are expensive at $50 and up.  With price shoppers all over the place, this can eat into your profits really fast.  Thats why I recommend only signing up for leads for jobs under $15.  You will still get your foot in the door and can bank on the return business.

#3:  Eliminate leads that don’t pay

After you’ve been using the service for a while, it’s a good idea to go back over your leads and see which categories pay off and which one’s provide mostly junk leads.  I did this in April of last year and was amazed at the results.

What are your thoughts on Home Advisor?  Please share in the comments below!

{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

Tim March 20, 2013 at 5:10 am

I got listed on Angie’s List early on, and that provided some leads, though I must say they are a mixed bag. There is nothing like real word-of-mouth. When I get that, new clients trust me right away, and I can usually trust them based on the referral.

I wouldn’t even THINK of signing up with Service Magic or any of those types of services. You are better off posting a flyer in the kinds of stores you go to, which will lead you to the kind of people you will get along with.

Early on, a friend asked me what percentage of jobs you go out to look at really turn into work. I’d never thought of it before. I paused before I said “All of them,” because I had never considered that they wouldn’t all turn into work. Then came Google Local Business, a free listing based on my area. Phone calls increased somewhat do that, and it was helpful, but I was spending more time on the phone and a then I, only occasionally, had visits that didn’t turn into work.

When I was able to change my phone message to say that I wasn’t taking new clients except those referred by existing clients, it freed up a lot of phone time, and increased the goodness of fit with my customers. There is only one way to get to that point: do impeccable work, don’t overcharge, make sure they know you will come back and fix it for free if something goes wrong. Having a level of expertise that they will call you first for everything in their home helps, too.

Signing up for Service Magic is like contracting for Home Depot. Why would anyone who can run a decent business and has a good reputation do installations for Home Depot? Why? Because they can’t find the work themselves. Why? Because they don’t do good work. That is why everyone who has ever used a Home Depot contractor says the same thing: “Never again!”

Yes, it took a few years until I felt I could depend on the money, and a few more before I was turning away work. It is worth it, though, to have a set of core clients who call me again and again, who depend on me, treat me like one of the family, and call me first.

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Big D March 20, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Hi Tim,

Thanks for your sharing your thoughts. I understand why Home Advisor (Service Magic) wouldn’t be useful to you as you have been in business for a while and have a steady stream of return business already.

However, for a new business that needs to get their name out there, Home Advisor does a great job at that. period. You may deal with some bad leads along the way, but that’s better than not having the phone ring at all. Additionally, you can still build the same long term relationship with these customers that you have built with yours, just faster.

I’ve been running my handyman business for a little over a year now and have the proof that Home Advisor is effective. If it’s not for you, I understand. But I don’t appreciate you saying that Handymen who use Home Advisor do lower quality work than those that don’t. Sure, there are many bad handymen using HA, but to say that advertising with HA makes you less of a handyman, that’s just not true.

Big D

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BroC April 19, 2014 at 8:15 am

Just a thought on the New businesses. When I started I went out and charged less then the going rates for the first year. I found the high end shop of materials in my area and offered to do installs, resurface, etc. at around 40% less, and instructed all this would be for my first year only. I found that the Doctors/ Lawyers/ Business CEO’s/ etc. who are well known in my community would go to the high end shops to get their materials, and once I proved my expertise in my work the word was out that first year in business. I went from 8k gross 1st year to 17k, the second, 34k the third, over 70k in the 4th, and over 100 after the 5th if I recall correctly. In other words, if one is as excellent in service, ethics, craftsmanship, etc. then no need to pay others to show your work of services, just give the local high end shop your portfolio and go to their clients with the discount of work you perform acknowledging that it is a limited time offer, once all their colleague’s see your work the phone will ring off hook as your prices climb as you get busier. Have to say, I knew my experience in my services are above average and have been blessed in life to have mastered my trade and service. I am still learning though, and anyone that state they know it all, stay away from them including those that pedal services like Service Magic/ Home Advisor/ Angie’s List/ etc. Good Luck to all that are beginning, it is quite the ride;0)

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Raleigh Handyman March 20, 2013 at 7:55 am

Good tips here. I would add one additional item. Anyone in the home service industry would gain long term if they put in place a system to stay in connection with past clients. As repeat business and referrals are the best source of new business any company can have.

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Big D March 20, 2013 at 2:03 pm

That’s a really great tip. Thanks!

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Big Red April 26, 2013 at 2:41 pm

Hi there.

I am looking to register with the various free online advertising companies but i do not want to use my own address. I read that using a PO BOX will not work or you can get penalized for it.

Have you any suggestions on this. Did you use your own address. Would you worry about bad customers showing up to your home.

Thanks

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Big D April 30, 2013 at 7:21 pm

Hi Big Red,

I recommend getting a mailbox at a local UPS store or other mailbox rental service. This is what I did as I don’t want customers to know where I live. It looks like a real address, too instead of just a PO Box.

It costs about $120 every six months and is well worth the cost. I don’t recommend getting a PO Box, however. A PO box looks less professional to customers and possibly google.

I actually wrote a post on this here: http://www.handymanstartup.com/5-reasons-to-get-a-handyman-business-address/

Big D

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BroC April 19, 2014 at 8:22 am

I have a shop with an address, so not worry about customers showing up since I no longer stay there, just work out of. When I first started business though, I stayed lived there. I would get phone calls from do it your self people looking for supplies cause the ran out on there projects. I would go ahead and help out on the supplies and give them free advise on how to get project completed. They would find out I gave great advise and tell their friends how hard it was for them to do their own Hardwood Floors and tell them about my free advice but consider hiring my services instead, so I got work from helping out those that could not afford my services;0) Just a thought for others!

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Andrew Polanski July 14, 2014 at 4:25 pm

You most definitely can get penalized for using a PO box, or even a UPS store as Big D suggested. According to Google’s guidelines (and this is word-for-word):

“Do not create a page or place your pin marker at a location where the business does not physically exist. P.O. Boxes are not considered accurate physical locations. Your business location should be staffed during its stated hours.”

One can argue “well my location is staffed with a UPS employee during business hours”, but that doesn’t work with Google. They want it to be staffed by someone from YOUR company.

The other option is a virtual office, but even then, it’s against Google’s guidelines.

The correct way with Google is to list your address, but checkmark the box that will allow you to hide your address from being displayed (Google is actually now starting to decide themselves – automatically- on whether they will hide your address).

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Glen Betts April 30, 2013 at 3:58 am

Big D,

Having recently moved to a different state to be close to my children and grandchildren, I am effectively starting all over. Your comments about HA relieved my mind as I was facing those same issues you mention above as I was beginning to wonder what I was doing wrong.
In a phone call with their customer service I strongly recommended they set their system up to only let a “client” click on one contractor a day for a specific task instead of hitting three or four and playing the “cheapest route” game.
I’ve had only two successful leads out of two dozen so far, so I’m not impressed at all, but I’m going to adjust my leads with your suggestions for now to help get my foot in the door locally.

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Big D April 30, 2013 at 7:22 pm

Ya, you need to play with it to see which leads are getting you good customers. One category that didn’t pay off for me was the handyman/random tasks or something like that. I got only price shoppers looking for the cheapest option.

Let me know how it works out for you.

Big D

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MR January 18, 2014 at 8:57 pm

hmm, 2 successes out of 24, thats close to 8% lead to sale. Its not bad IMO. You gotta realize there are other handymen in the industry too and are probably bidding on the same project. So if the consumer wants to go cheap, they’d go with the cheapest option available to them.

I think in general handymen are not very business savvy .. businesses run on numbers. Not everyone walking through the door will be a buyer. But overtime you will see a trend where a given % of those who walk through the door will be buyers. And it all depends on how much you get out there.

Like D said, if you are starting out, your first 2 years are crucial .. you pick up jobs, do em cheap if you have to, do em well, and make sure you get repeat business and referrals from them.

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Maria June 3, 2013 at 1:54 pm

I am not sure about the process of homeadvisor can you please explain me. What do you means by Lead???

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Big D June 4, 2013 at 7:17 pm

A lead is basically a job opportunity with a specific customer. When somebody goes to HomeAdvisor looking for home services, they fill out their information and the type of work they’re looking to have done.

Home Advisor then sends that information (the customers name, phone number, address, and job needs) to 3 service providers. These 3 service providers can then contact the customer and try to get the job.

When I say call the lead immediately, I’m referring to the customer who is looking for help with their home.

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Eric June 7, 2013 at 2:21 pm

Big D!!! This is an awesome article but I thought you were way to lenient on Home Advisor. Glenn mentioned above that consumers should only be able to post one job request per day. That is a good idea but the problem is on the backend, HA shares every lead they get with as many prospective sellers as they possibly can. This causes three things to happen. First, the consumer ends up getting bombarded with calls IF they gave a real phone number so they get annoyed. More importantly, the contractors paying $50 for the lead are competing with each other right out of the gate. Third, HA get rich by reselling leads, annoying consumers and having their clients compete for jobs that very rarely close. I also didn’t realize that they require access to profile info AND placed their phone numbers and links on their clients’ profile pages. Thanks for sharing this. I’m going to advise some of my clients of this that are still using these guys. I can’t believe these guys have built a billion $ business operating this way but I am thankful because how we solve this problem is so fair in comparison.

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Big D June 9, 2013 at 11:51 am

Eric,

Thanks for the comment. However, I have no evidence or have seen nothing to suggest that HA sends the leads out to as many people as possible. According to their claims, they send regular leads to 3 home service providers and no more.

As for the issue with the customers getting bombarded, that’s why it’s so important to call first. As long as you aren’t rude or aggressive and are simply trying to help the customer, I don’t think this will have any negative affect on your branding.

Big D

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Craig May 6, 2014 at 4:42 am

I’ve spoken to a few friends who used Home Advisor or Service Magic (previous name) and while they were told only 3 contractors would be given a lead, in reality they saw up to as many as NINE others shared the same lead.

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Jeanne July 23, 2014 at 6:49 am

We have been using HA for several years now and in the beginning it did pay off. Right now I have suspended our leads because we are way too busy with work from word of mouth and other avenues. I do agree with Eric that HA sends more than 3 out per job because we have encountered this numerous times. We also have experienced contractors being sent out that are not qualified or experienced in the work that we do. They under cut us and then 6 months later they are calling us to repair the work that the other contractor messed up. This happens quite frequently. Right now we are booked out with work until October and are researching different lead generating companies instead of HA.

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Ravis August 13, 2013 at 10:41 am

Thanks for the great article. I have been using HA since 2007….glad I did when the crash hit in 2008 is AZ!!!! Yes I get some price Checkers and bad leads but over all the only business for 4 years came thru them. I win 2 out of 3 contracts all the time. I also ‘cleaned’ sites to my number as you did. Now I have a client base and still get leads. In the design business every drafter out there now does side work and HA is one way to continue to show them up.

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BroC April 19, 2014 at 8:35 am

Sounds like one needs two different names of business, one to register with HA for their leads and the other so HA can not override your business name/numbers with theirs. Have to say, that is enough for me to never do business with HA.

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Jeff Richard Morrison August 25, 2013 at 8:57 am

What’s Going down i am new to this, I stumbled upon this I have discovered It absolutely helpful and it has aided me out loads. I’m hoping to contribute & help other customers
like its helped me. Great job.

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carpet cleaner Potton November 8, 2013 at 3:17 pm

Great blog you hav here.. It’s difficult to find
excellent writing like yours nowadays. I truly appreciate individuals like you!
Take care!!

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kemccull256 November 12, 2013 at 8:59 pm

Its not necessarily what HomeAdvisors does, its what the lie to you that they don’t do. They will lie to you about what exact match is and what they do to attract exact match leads. they will basically steal your market identity then feed it back to you at 150% of a market match lead. In other words, they will insert (somehow, I dont know how) their contact info in seemingly every place you have contact info for you company. So, anyone that looks you up gets their contact info. So rather than contact you directly, they contact HomeAdvisor. Then HA bills you 150% of the market match price for this. If you have paused your leads, you dont get the info.

Its not what they do, its what they lie to you to get your business. this is fraudulent. And needs to be reported. Oh, by the way, now they have a “listing” that clients can review and call you directly. For $30 per month flat. No choice. Ask them to produce what this is? they cant. Another rip off.

this needs to be report to you state Attorney General.

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Gabe Kis November 17, 2013 at 11:25 am

Your 100 percent correct. Companies like this are destabilizing the economy with their propaganda. It’s only good for them and their day is
coming real soon . They are being investigated and a stoke of a pen in a reputable paper will go national once the AP gets ahold of it.

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Gabe Kis November 17, 2013 at 8:19 am

FTC and FBI complaints were filed in NYC against Home Advisor and ehardhat of Woburn Mass. Ehardhat steals business identities extracts commerce across state lines via the Internet. It lists business names with photos and bios without the business owners consent and redirects the calls to Home Advisor. It’s false advertisment,fraud, fraud by deception. Both companies simulate relationships with companies that they have absolutely no affiliation with to lure the consumer into their vast network. Liutenant Weston checked out ehardhat and said it looks like they left in the middle of the night. Prosecutor Casey Silvia located the owner Fabio Espindula and he claims he is still in business with nearly 3 million contractors
In his network. Leads are generated falsely and sold to Home Advidor. The consumer feels duped and won’t pick up the phone. Contractors credit cards are charged weekly. I smell a rat and media exposure coming real soon . The complaint was filed by renowned celebrity contractor Gabe Kis.

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Gabe Kis November 17, 2013 at 9:37 am

Big D ,
The previous comment is correct. Contractors are recruited by Home Advisor via Crsigslist. They are told that consumers contact HA. That’s a blatant lie. All my ratings with Service Majic were 5 stars. When I bailed is when they switched to Home Advisor and jacked up their fees by 80 percent. I’m not paying that kind of money for worthless leads . HA refuses to let their contractors leave. They keep wanting to update credit card info and also strong arm contractors into paying for leads they did not turn on.
They turned me into collections and then dropped it when I threatened to go public. I was clearly under the impression the Home owners
Contact HA. Look at the bottom of your invoice. It clearly says
helping you build your business 1 homeowner at a time. Home Advidor formerly Service Majic has about 84,000 contractors in its network after 13 years. They now fraudulently get there leads from ehardhat
Phony directory that boasts it has 2.800.000 contractors in their network
With all the calls going to HA. It’s called Fraud. Ask reporter Amy Woodward
at the Golden Transcript in Colorado why the CEO Chris Terrell of HA
paid her editor a visit to squash the story. Going to an attorney is a waste of money. Home Advisors business practices need to be made public.
That’s what they don’t want. They make money out of lies and
steal money from working people’s credit cards weekly. I have an excellent reputation and HA is a company that is an online thug. Get a piece of all the action. It needs to be regulated by Federal authorities. Time to call the BUNKO SQUAD.

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BroC April 19, 2014 at 8:50 am

Filing with your attorney general is free and a help to weed out Companies like HA!!! Sometimes the Attorney General will do a class action suit where one can be compensated for damages along with others that businesses like HA damaged!!

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CAS December 29, 2013 at 6:53 am

I just signed up and will give it a try for a couple weeks but if I decide to stop the service, will HA still have rights to all my company links as you say is in their contract? And to top that off…I never received anything written from them stating their terms???

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Dan Perry December 30, 2013 at 9:09 am

I’m not sure whether they will still have rights or not. You do have the ability to clean them up yourself and correct the info at anytime, though.

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jana March 3, 2014 at 11:42 am

kemccull256 is correct. I just got off the phone with a customer service rep at HA. Their sales rep flat out lied to me in his initial phone call, neglected to tell me about “auto accept” and I am being billed for leads that I declined. Ironically, our company happens to be remodeling the home of an FTC attorney :)

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Dan Perry March 4, 2014 at 8:58 pm

Sorry to hear that Jana and thanks for sharing it here on the blog. Let me know how that ends up working out for you!

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Dave King March 5, 2014 at 11:44 am

Got another call from an HA “telemarketer” last night. I’ve talked with these guys/gals off and on for the last three years, even before the name change.

Funny thing about this call compared to the one in December 2013: the “agent” politely apologized for calling me, noticing that his records revealed HA had not recently received any requests for window cleaners in my area. The person who called last time mentioned nothing about that and was actually a bit rude when I said I was not interested in working with HA.

Dave

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Robert March 6, 2014 at 5:32 am

Hello, home advisor has , and is servicing me well, there’s always something about anything you might not like, there’s some customers who may not like your work, but that doesn’t mean everybody feels that way, good day

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BroC April 19, 2014 at 8:59 am

What is your Position at HA Robert? I can see that HA needs to get people they have on their Payroll out and about to squash the real thoughts of their services!

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Amy March 21, 2014 at 4:32 pm

I have to say home advisor also known as service magic is a true scam. You would think since the service
Professional
Pays to keep this thing in business they would defend you when you have an unhappy customer, think again! I also know for a fact they do not do a fu
Check of your business as they state to help ease the mind of homeowners as I am off that. After spending thousands in advertising with home advisor, we received two bad customer complaints, mind you out of hundreds of leads , dropped us like a bad habit. Went to rejoin with our new company name and two years later I called about something and saw my cell phone number associated with the old account and they dropped the new company. Who are these people and company? They need to be stopped and service professionals and consumers beware! You can do
The homework yourself and switch to Angie’s list! They double dip on leads they give that are supposed to be exclusive! I understand not eveyone is going to be happy but if I could help just one person stay away from
This scam company I am happy! They have bad reviews all over the Internet and anyone who likes them
Does not fully understand the way they work but you will find out as I liked them once as well until you need them to defend you, their customer as a service professional!

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vince March 24, 2014 at 7:17 am

Truly a waste of time and money. Tried them as Service Magic as a handyman and only landed one job. Tried them again as Home Advisor and landed zero jobs. Their business model is built on non-verified leads and people looking for free information. Over half of the leads I received had bad contact info. Their CS reps are rude and you have to fight for every lead replacement. I have much better results prospecting leads via my local chamber of commerce, BNI, and other networking groups.

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Mike April 1, 2014 at 3:44 pm

Okay i just Got on phone with a representative at home adviser, and he gave me some info on how this Home Adviser Pro Lead program works. I am not sure this is the best fit in Plumbing field. They get less than hundred leads on monthly basis and there are probably 50 and above plumbers listed in the area. So each plumber gets about 2 leads. Now an average lead that a company might get could be even more than that, so what is the reason being listed in their directory? just to get 2 leads? a month? you wont get all the leads and probably you wont even earn the money you paid. I would really recommend having a directory and just letting people add their business there such as Yelp.

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BroC April 19, 2014 at 9:03 am

Excellent evaluation of HA, Angie List, Service Magic to Yelp!!! I have found my customers to put positive on Yelp about my services, so great way to get referrals!!

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Dan April 9, 2014 at 12:31 am

I’m the owner of an AC company in the Phoenix area, after realizing home advisor uses your company name to attract business, I dropped them, they are still using my company information without my permission, and also have a CPM. (Google ad campaign ) using my company information, basically I am competing with Home Advisor for my own name, we are a $1mill company with 35% of our customers coming directly from google, do the math on that! If you are using home advisor, what ever you currently generate from online or organic searches, home advisor gets that same dollar amount using your name! Think about that! We track every lead! I made my third and final call to home advisor, tomorrow I’m going over the initial terms of service, contacting the attorney generals of both states, filing complaints at every outlet possible, including the corporate commissions, I’m then starting with this state, going to research every contractor in my field using Home advisor then personally inform them how it works, what they stand to lose. I informed home advisor for the last time today, I am devoting 100% of my time and I have Two office employees I will have working on this matter when it doesn’t interfere with normal business. If you don’t mind, I would like to post updates on this forum

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Dan Perry April 10, 2014 at 12:31 pm

Thanks for sharing, Dan. By all means, please post updates here and let us know how it goes.

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BroC April 19, 2014 at 9:09 am

You might consider also to tell your prospective clients that your competitors use HA (if you know this for a fact), Service Magic, Angie list, etc. and that they need to go online and see how deceptive their practices are through reviews. I bet you will find them wanting your services. Hope you can get HA to cut loose your listings/ phone numbers/ association. What a nightmare. Glad I checked out this site on all, shows one needs to build their own reputable business and not let these internet companies get ahold of your business identity!

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Phillip Howell April 9, 2014 at 9:40 am

I started using ServiceMagic in 2002 and at first it was great, it generated a ton of leads and I was probably at a 90 percent win ratio but over time and as ServiceMagic developed it morphed into a way to rip off contractors andshandyman providers I personally have generated leads to test the quality of leads that I was receiving, I generate a lead as a customer I accepted the lead as the handyman then as the customer I remove the lead and ServiceMagic kept th leade fee. ServiceMagic has always done a poor job of educating their customer on that we the handyman pay a fee for their information they’ve always done a great job of finding ways to collects fees.I was even charged fees from work done by repeat customers that had posted a job to get the competing price quote. I didn’t except the lead so the customer contacted me directly. Servicecmagic did a phone follow up with them. When they found out they had use my company they charged me. Its inthe ttons. So if you are using these people be very mindful of all there charges and fees. They are sneaky.

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Larry May 2, 2014 at 10:12 am

Hmmm… glad I found this info about Home Advisor. I think I will continue to work by word of mouth and local advertising. I am a hard worker, have a lot of experience in many areas, and am told I do very nice work. My wife and I are okay with our lifestyle, even during lean times. I don’t feel the need to get drawn into a less than desirable situation just for a few jobs a year.

I recently received a call from HA trying to recruit me to their program. I surprised them by pointing out several restrictions specific to Ohio (ie Ohio only licenses “Commercial General Contractors & skilled trades.”) It is instead, local municipalities that register and license “Residential General Contractors.”

Handymen in my market are REQUIRED to be licensed as such. However, most of the handymen I have talked to in my area are not licensed, bonded, or insured. I advise anyone seeking to do business, especially in my market, to go through the process (And expense) to become licensed. I feel anyone calling themselves a professional should carry those credentials. HA did not seem to know of that requirement here locally.

I am a licensed, bonded, and insured general contractor serving Upper Arlington, Grandview Heights, and Hilliard, Ohio that specializes in minor home repairs, small renovations, and handyman services. While skilled, I am still always looking to better my abilities, and I actively seek out ways to meet new customers; as is prudent of any small business owner that plans to be successful.

I know my way around a home and I also have a lot of experience in marketing; I was Recruiter of the Year when I was in the Navy; worked for Sears Home Improvements generating leads and then doing outside sales, when they were in business as well. I am okay with slow growth. I treat customers like family and they spread the word for me. I don’t see that changing.

Best wishes,

Larry Spears
Liebert-Spears, LLC
General Contractor

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Daniel May 13, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Hi Dan and fellow concerned HA and SM marketing people,

I too, before finding this site, found out that HA had taken my identity and address and put their own ph. #, so what did I do? I copied and pasted their phone # and changed it to my number. It took a little doing, sometimes calling the site and others would send a pin# for you to change the listing and others like Google would send a post card, but I did it!!

Unlike Dan and Home Improvement people, I was on for basement, additions, and home building. Did try smaller tasks but, I hardly called back right away and probably should have, even with the bigger tasks. The % of leads that I won was roughly 1 out of 10. One month spending $1000.00 I might have gotten two basement remodels. From being on SM and HA, I actually landed a Home Build and that was a referral from a previous SM customer!!
So HomeAdvisor does work but you have to go through the bogus, browsing, whim, false, NUMBERS, etc. I know that it is a pain, believe me! —

I try other sources- Angieslist for example, the first year I was on the list, I received two jobs totaling $175,000 (2 additions). So I thought “why not pay $1800 to be on the top of the list” -nothing came of it that year! Weird!

Thanks Dan for your help in this!

Daniel

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Dan Perry May 15, 2014 at 7:37 pm

Your welcome, Daniel. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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AL b. May 25, 2014 at 4:59 am

I too am a HA client. Could somebody please explain how I can get my business info from HA to My own. Such as changing their Phone # back to my number. I can’t believe they are actually using my information to direct internet calls back yo them and then charging me for that same lead! I would like to clean up my sites. Thanks for your help on this!

Al B.

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Donna W. May 30, 2014 at 2:12 pm

My husband runs a plumbing, heating, air conditioning business and we have been clients for quite some time, first with ServiceMagic and now HomeAdvisor. The problem we always saw, was that the same lead was sent to over a dozen contractors when we were told several times the same lead only went out to 2 or 3 contractors. I would call immediately the customer after receiving the fax. Approximately 9 out of 10 times, they would say they already found someone. And guess what? We still have to pay for that lead whether we get the job or not. Very disappointing, to say the least.

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Amy Setlock June 26, 2014 at 8:56 am

Thank you for this great article and comments.
The business I work for was looking into using HA, however once learning all of the information you guys disclosed hopefully I can talk them out of it!

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Mr. C. July 1, 2014 at 3:59 pm

Let this be a cautionary tale to those considering enrolling with Home Advisor as a service professional. This e-mail chain between me and E*** from HA is only hours old, and is indicative of the low character, nefarious goals, and underhanded tactics of this operation.

I am the owner of a licensed and insured general contracting design/build firm in NC. I had been on the phone with HA after receiving an unsolicited phone call from them (first mistake). When asked where they got the company information they said the Chamber of Commerce, so I listened (second mistake). It sounded pretty good, so, over the next 4-5 months I would periodically take their calls but say that I was not quite ready. Then the rep that had been calling me was replaced by E***. In sales techniques this would be the ‘Closer’ coming on the scene. I let him pitch me for 35 minutes & thought it sounded pretty good, but still hesitated to enroll. Then he did a search at the Secretary of State and found that I had not filed my annual report for the LLC… Thanks! So I scooted down there and filed it. Voila! That was cool, and I thought, “Wow, they really do check out the potential enrollees. These guys might be the real thing. Hot leads here I come!”

When I asked him to send me an enrollment package, he sent a link to the HA page. By law, they must publish the Terms & Conditions, and there they were. I read them to the letter. Not good. Then I came to this site and heard the comments. Case closed. Third mistake not made. Below is the exchange edited to protect the innocent, and the jerk from HA.

Honestly, though, I’d love to print the name, but I really do not want any cyber trouble from this guy.
_________________________________________________________
**********, E***” wrote:

Mr. C****,

I need to set a 3 minute appointment with you today so that we can wrap up enrollment. We’re not going to handle any details, start talking about the clients, or anything else. Just finish enrollment. It takes three minutes. That’s it.

Once that is finished, we can work with your schedule whenever you have time to go through details. But today, I have to finish enrollment with you. Details and adjustments can be made whenever you have time later. Call me ASAP.

Best,

E*** **********
Phone: 913.529.**** | Online Marketing Consultant

_________________________________________________________
E***,

Can do. I’ll give you a call in a bit.

Thanks,

**** C****
***** ***** Llc

——————————————————————————-
From: “E*** **********”
To: “Mr. C.”
Sent: Monday, June 30, 2014 4:14:07 PM
Subject: RE: Appointment

Ok perfect. What time are you thinking?

E*** ****

Phone: 913.529.**** | Online Marketing Consultant |
_____________________________________________________
I didn’t call, instead, I penned this reply.
_____________________________________________________
From: **** C. ********/ ***** *****, LLC
[mailto:*****************.com]
Sent: Monday, June 30, 2014 5:08 PM
To: **********, ****
Cc: ************* C.
Subject: No enrollment.

E***,

I’ve hit a major roadblock that prevents enrollment in Home Advisor, but I’m glad that I was able to dig this up prior to taking a step. Green Build Llc will not grant perpetual, irrevocable license to anyone at anytime, specifically Home Advisor.

***** ***** Llc, and/or **** C. , does not agree to license Home Advisor to use the corporate or personal identity in any way, at any time, for any reason.

This excerpt from the Terms & Conditions is not acceptable:

“Grant of License. You hereby grant HomeAdvisor and its users a perpetual, non-exclusive, royalty-free, transferable, assignable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use, store, display, reproduce, modify, create derivative works, perform, distribute, print, publish, disseminate and place advertising near and adjacent to your Content in any format or media (whether now know or hereafter created) on the HomeAdvisor and apps in any manner that we deem appropriate or necessary, including, if submitted, your name, voice and likeness throughout the world, and such permission shall be perpetual and cannot be revoked for any reason.”

Thanks,

**** C.
***** ***** Llc

______________________________________________________

John,

Honestly that’s fine. At this point, I doubt you would be a good fit for us. But for arguments sake, what are you afraid will happen? We are an industry leader and subsidiary of a Fortune 500. Your concerned that we want to ADVERTISE YOUR USER GENRATED CONTENT (ratings and reviews, pictures, company information)? Are you aware of what we do?

But we both know that isn’t the issue. Good luck John.

E*** **********

Phone: 913.529.**** | Online Marketing Consultant |
——————————————————————————-

From: “**** C. /***** *****, LLC”
To: “E*** **********”
Sent: Tuesday, July 1, 2014 11:44:43 AM
Subject: Re: No enrollment.

E***,

Yes, I’m aware of what you do: Home Advisor requires it’s enrollees to grant irrevocable, perpetual license to their business identity. The extent of that licensing agreement (or Terms & Conditions as you call it) is out of balance with the scope of the advertising and referral service. Looks to me like Home Advisor is collecting perpetual licensing agreements for it’s own purposes. I’m glad that I caught that before it was too late.

Your oblique closing comment, “but we both know that is not the issue” is interesting… What is the issue ?

**** C****
***** ***** Llc
__________________________________________________________

… and that is the end of the exchange so far, about 7 hours ago and no reply. I’m glad, too, because my initial thought when E*** wished me good luck was to reply, “Luck You, Too.”

Pressure technique, then a switch to attack after being rebuffed… amateur and unprofessional. It was just like all the posts here said, only because I did not enroll was I spared the experience of paying them to snatch the corporate identity. E*** was not happy, his grammar and spelling fell apart and he printed IN ALL CAPS !!

When E*** pivoted to “…not a fit for us…” it was right out of the HA playbook: just like the folks on this thread had been treated.

So, thank you so much for all of your comments. They have been very helpful to me. Getting deep into the Terms & Conditions was the right thing to do, and for all of you that read the excerpt, go back and read the whole thing on the HA site. It is still in force after enrollment. The rest of the agreement is even more alarming. Note the part about the limited screening process on the Contractors; they don’t really even do the vetting process well. Check laws in your state, though, but HA has a pretty firm grip on you and will not be willing to let go. Thanks again to all that enrolled, got hosed, and posted warnings here.

To those professionals that have yet to enroll with Home Advisor… RUN AWAY and don’t look back.

Sincerely,

Mr. C.

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Standard Window Cleaning July 4, 2014 at 12:11 pm

I think the “No home advisor for any reason” and “Home Advisor is the best thing ever” people are both wrong. It all depends. I happen to have a perfect experience with home advisor. It all depends on your busness goals, industry and other factors.

-I happen to have a monopoly in my area for the service I provide. So I get only exact match and don’t have to worry about leads going to other providers. 25% of new clients of mine come from HA.

I am not a “get a few customers and stop growing” type of business. So for my company its nice to keep getting leads every few days to increase my customer base. Also, durring my startup phase, it also helped allot, as it was as if my business was “turned on”. I got my first lead within a week of starting, and averaged 3-5 a week. (again results will vary by industry) I had 200 customers plus by the end of my first season in business. As my customer base increases I add more capacity.

The problem in general with the home improvement/maintenance industry, is simply that most individuals are experts in what they do not experts in business. They don’t know to monitor return on investments and so on. I average $2.54 per customer acquired because of home advisor. This seems cheap considering my category charges $18 per lead. But I label my customers by HA lead or referral from HA lead. Although you might spend 18 or even 50 per lead directly, if your work speaks for itself, you can end up with free referrals from that lead. I had 36 customers (from a home owners association) from one single $18 dollar lead. They referred me to the president of the HOA. I think the moral more than just HA, is to have good metrics when assessing the return on investment with advertising efforts. If you make $50 per hour doing your work, and you spent 2 hours going door to door to get one customer, you spent about $100 in your labor getting one customer. Even at $50 per lead, you could have gotten 2 leads for the same capital effort. Just making up numbers to drive home the point that you either have to keep track of the const of all forms of advertising, both in dollars and in time, or hire someone to do that for you.

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Nestor N. G. July 22, 2014 at 8:21 pm

Just what I was looking for. Definitely everyone will have different levels of success and failure, but with the information that you provided we have better understanding of what to expect. Great tips to Maximize ROI

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Action 1 Restoration December 17, 2014 at 3:07 pm

If you are looking for leads to purchase, one of the best areas is to find a vendor that will offer exclusive leads. You will pay more for your leads as they are exclusive and they will usually be phone call leads vs lead for leads, but they are well worth the higher cost if you are willing to pay for them. There are company’s that charge double Home Advisor’s cost per lead, but since they are phone call leads and exclusive leads, your conversion will be much higher. Also, generally these company’s will not touch your brand name either, which protects your own leads coming into your company. This is just something to think about as a good way to get more leads.. I hope that helps.

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