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Why Online Marketing Generates The Best Leads

Last weekend, there was a severe windstorm in my city.  I’m talking about wind that shakes the whole house, knocks over trees, and throws patio furniture.

I remember sitting in my living room with my fiancee and we could feel the whole house shaking.

As you can imagine, the wind damaged a lot of properties in my city.  I mean, this wasn’t like a tornado or anything like that. But wind gusts were estimated to push 80mph.  It was intense.  My patio furniture was completely demolished and it even knocked over and destroyed my propane grill.

The aftermath of the windstorm left fences knocked over, roof shingles scattered throughout the streets, and basically just a whole lot of home repairs.

The morning after the storm, my phone was ringing off the hook.  People needed their homes fixed.  But, where did they look for repairmen and women?

They didn’t open their phone book.  They didn’t look in the weekend newspaper (ok, maybe some of them did).  They went where they knew they could find somebody to help them – the internet.

The handymen, plumbers, electricians, landscapers, and contractors that positioned themselves with a good online presence are now booked out several weeks with profitable jobs.

And here’s the deal – Those aren’t the only high quality leads you can generate online.  Here are 4 more examples of why good online marketing generates the best leads.

Disruptive Repair Leads

Disruptive repair leads are what I mentioned above.  I define them as the unexpected damage to a home or business that disrupts a clients living situation.  This includes jobs like a door being kicked in, a fence blowing over, a toilet that won’t stop running and keeps somebody awake, an appliance that suddenly stops working, etc.

These are projects that aren’t necessarily emergencies, but are just annoying and inconvenient for people.  Disruptive repairs will force people that don’t typically hire a handyman to pick up the phone and give you a call.

I can tell you from experience these are some of the best leads, too.

They’re great leads because the customers are experiencing a real pain-point.  There’s a problem and the customer wants a solution so they can get back to normal life.

These customers aren’t just casually shopping around for somebody to paint a room or something.  Their roof is leaking, their fence is blown over and their dog can escape, or some other disruption that is negatively effecting their lives.  They’re ready to go!

Assuming your answer your phone, you’ll get a high percentage of these jobs.

Emergency Leads

I’ve generated several leads from my online marketing for emergency services.  These are similar to disruptive repair leads, but much more urgent.  

These jobs can range from a leaking roof during a rain storm, a broken furnace in the middle of winter, or a major plumbing leak.  They can even be as simple as getting a jammed door open for a business.

If you’re willing to offer emergency services, these can be great leads because they are extremely profitable.  You can typically double or even triple what you charge in these scenarios because it’s an emergency.  

Obviously, a property owner in need of an emergency service doesn’t have time to ask for recommendations.  He or she is going to go with the first person that picks up the phone ready to work.

New To The City?

My definition of a great customer is someone who is loyal, easy and enjoyable to work for, and is more concerned with quality than cost.  Since they are loyal by definition, they typically already have handymen they are loyal to.  That makes it a little difficult to find them!

So, as a new handyman service, you need to find other ways to get these great customers.

One of my most successful methods is through being found online by those who just moved to my city from another area.

Since new residents don’t typically know a lot of people to seek recommendations from, they tend to look online for service providers.

If you can land one, these clients are awesome.

They’re generally really friendly and easy to build a relationship with.  Just like the new kid in school, they want to be accepted and seek to belong in the new city.  They’re probably feeling a little out of place and as long as you are friendly and provide a good service, they’ll be loyal for life.

Vacation Home Owners

Based on what I’ve heard from many of my readers, vacation homes owners are awesome customers.

They obviously have enough money to pay you if they have more than one home.  They can’t do most of the maintenance themselves because they live elsewhere.  And, as long as you do a good job, they’ll continue to hire you.

If you live in a small ski town or a vacation hot spot (unfortunately, I don’t), these customers are plentiful.

Just like other types of customers, many of these will search online to find a handyman or other service professional.  If you can swoop them up before a larger property management company gets to them you’re in good shape.

The Take Away

In addition to being low cost (if done yourself) and extremely effective, online marketing also provides the best leads for your home repair business.

In my mind, there is really no substitute and I wouldn’t be as successful as a handyman without it.  Currently, the internet is how I generate all of my new leads and keep my schedule booked with quality jobs.  It’s what allows me to enjoy my business and feel confident that I’ll have enough business next week, next month, and next year.

If you’re not successfully generating leads online, I recommend spending more time on your online presence.  It’s well worth the effort!

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  • James Mason February 26, 2014

    Great tips Dan, a minimum call out fee for small jobs also adds value to the bottom line.

    • Dan Perry February 26, 2014

      I totally agree. What is your minimum?

      • James Mason March 4, 2014

        Hey mate, sorry for the late reply, looks like you have the same WP blog comment tool as myself where the commenter does not get notified of a reply to the comment. I’m starting to look at what other option are available to change this for my site.

        Anyway to answer your question currently my min charge out rate is $270 which covers the first two hours on site. I really only apply this for emergency jobs as I would rather inspect first and provide a solid quote, and if the clients are elderly I like to look after them on price as well.

        Cheers mate.

        • Dan Perry March 4, 2014

          Thanks for the reply. I’ll have to look into a better comment system for my blog, too.

          Wow, $270!? If you don’t mind me asking, what is your billable hourly rate? Also, is this typical for your area?


          • James Mason March 5, 2014

            No problem, i generally don’t like to do a lot of hourly rate work but when i do its between $75 – $90 per hour. If its something long term like over three days to a week i will drop it to the $75 mark but if its just a few hours or less than a day its at the $90 mark.

            Its a fairly common rate for a skilled handy man here in Sydney Australia as the building industry is doing well here and skilled tradesman and handyman are a little harder to come by. That said there are still guys out there doing work for $35 an hour but like the old saying goes, you get what you pay for!

            The way i see it people are not paying just for my hourly rate but also for my 22 years of experience in the industry that comes with it, and also the customer service to match.

            Even though im a builder i have made the switch to specializing in more of the handyman style of work because 1. It seems like no one else is interested in the smaller jobs and because of this they are very lucrative, & 2. Im no longer tied up on larger projects for 4-6 months at a time and i get to spend more time with my young family.

            Wish i had have made the switch sooner 🙂

          • Dan Perry March 5, 2014

            Thanks again for sharing, James. I totally agree, 22 years of experience plus great customer service is well worth $90/hr. As I gain more experience, I often consider raising my rates to something similar. It’s always great to hear of somebody else making a great living doing this type of work, and enjoying their life more because of it!

  • Tim M February 26, 2014

    Dan has done a lot with online marketing. “Handyman” is a very broad term: it can apply to anything from someone with no skills who rakes your leaves, to someone highly skilled who can do plumbing, electrical, carpentry, and even solder the motherboard in your appliance.

    The other skill that differentiates Dan from the others is that he is computer literate. Many handymen have that job because the CANNOT do anything else, or CANNOT hold a regular job. Dan is doing it because he LIKES the type of work, LIKES the schedule, and LIKES working for himself. So he has one other thing most other handyman do not have: computer and internet skills. Most of his competition probably don’t even have a decent Web site, let alone promote themselves online. By now, most of them have gotten their free listing on Google Maps, I would hope. Still, this is the skill that is getting him the calls today. If he is running his business right, and it seems that he is, he is turning a lot of those calls into long-term loyal customers.

    Once you’ve been in business a few years, you, like him, will need less of calls from people calling you out of the blue, and be able to rely on greatly on repeat customers, whom you already know, and supplement that with their friends, referrals. His article points out that people are turning to the internet to find help for right now. Just 5 or 10 years ago it wasn’t like that. It was pounding the pavement, hanging up flyers, and waiting for a call. Sometimes people would call as soon as the saw an ad or picked up a flyer, sometimes they held onto it for years until something came up. Using the internet like Dan has, today you can get yourself a customer base in the first year, that may have taken three before. This lets you start a full business nearly right away, you don’t have to be working another job as you build your clients as much as you used to.

    I still find that I get clients I like better from hanging flyers in the places that I like to frequent. We just end up a better match that way. Still, you probably don’t want to wait around if you are starting out. No matter what, build a basic Web site on something like Yola.com, and make sure to get your keywords entered so people can find you. Then get listed on Google Local, and Yelp etc. Then look into the other forms of social media. Not being on Google Local, and not having your Web site show up on the first page of internet searches is the equivalent of having an unlisted phone number for your business!

    • Dan Perry February 26, 2014

      Thanks for the comment, Tim. I’d be interested to learn more about your flyer hanging strategy.

      You are so right that most handymen do not have computer or internet skills. The unfortunate thing about that is these are probably the same guys that fall for companies that cold call and claim to be with google. I get so many of these calls that they must be working otherwise they’d stop calling. I feel bad for those that fall for it!

      Personally, I wouldn’t recommend Yola.com or a similar “free” website building platform. If your website is free you don’t really own it and you’re capabilities are seriously limited. A website is a valuable asset that you should be in control of. In the Handyman Web Academy, I teach the strategy of setting up your website on WordPress. There’s no better solution because it’s easy to use and powerful.

  • william February 26, 2014

    great articles…and content. thanks

  • Jeff MIchaels March 3, 2014

    Thanks for the tip for emergency services! I never thought about that one. I started my business a little over one month ago and have been so busy just from word of mouth that I’m finally going to the bank today to open my business accounts and deposit my checks!
    I live in a small ski town with a ton of property management companies but have figured out a way to get to new second home owners first.
    In all county’s in the US a deed has to be recorded in the Clerk and Recorder’s Office at the sale of all real property. Anyone can call up, visit, or (if your lucky) register and go online and read the deeds (for a small fee) and see the new homeowners address. Don’t go to through the Assessor’s office as most of them are weeks if not months behind processing deeds for the public. I have a small mailer printed up with a “Congratulations on the purchase of your new house…” and list all my services. Hope this helped!

    • Dan Perry March 4, 2014

      Great tip Jeff! That is one of the most effective ways to get those customers I’ve ever heard of. Congrats on your success with the business, too!