Be wary of online tradesperson directories

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The idea of writing this post was sparked by an email I received on the weekend where I was sent a link from a very successful blog that had an online enquiry form ‘Find Tradespeople and Home Services the easy way’. The reader could fill in an online form detailing the job that would need to be done and the directory would send the contact details of three reliable tradespersons in the area. I think it’s a great service, provided the supplied tradespersons are reliable and do good work.

From a business owner’s point of view, this online directory scheme didn’t work well for us. My dad signed up to one of these popular directories when we started our maintenance division and sadly, it not only cost us money, it wasted our time.

How it worked

We paid a membership fee to join the directory service and I would receive a text message with what type of work needed doing.  I would have to sms back ‘yes’ if I wanted more details. If I replied ‘yes’ to the sms, we would be billed $15 for the lead. I was sent half a dozen sms’s in the year that we joined and the few times that I opted yes, the customers weren’t serious and the jobs would fall through. One example was a man wanting to get a quote to install a hose tap on a commercial property but was just wanting a ‘round about’ price over the phone because he hadn’t actually checked with the property owner on whether he could have a hose tap installed or not. All the jobs that I opted yes to were time wasters. They were people just wanting advice, with no commitment whatsoever in hiring us or any tradesperson to do the job.

For argument’s sake, plumbers and all tradespersons can get these types of calls anytime, but when you receive these types of calls through a directory listing that you have paid to be a part of plus a lead fee, you expect the leads to be high quality and legit.

From the customer point of view, it all sounds easy. You enter your details and the type of work that needs to be done and you are sent three quotes from companies interested in doing the job for you. The issue I have with this type of quoting is that it is inaccurate. For an honest and reliable quote, the tradesperson should come to your property and view what needs to be done. Choosing a tradesperson based on an online quote is dicey because it locks the tradie into a price that may or may not cover what needs to be done, and if the tradie realizes that he or she has been lean on the quote, they may choose to pull out or ‘disappear’ during the job, leaving you in the predicament of finding another tradie to finish what was started. The other reason I am wary of reliable tradesperson directories is that you can’t get a feel of what the tradie is like in person. Part of the elimination process of choosing a tradesperson should be based on how you feel when you talk to them or meet them. They are going to be in your house so you need to get along with them if you are allowing them into your home.

Honestly, the best way to find a reliable  tradesperson is through word of mouth, then ring each tradesperson and get them to come out to your property so that they can give you an accurate price on what needs to be done. I’ve had my share of no shows. And I’ve also had a bad gut feeling about some and have chosen not to hire them to do work at my house.  When it comes to making these types of decisions, you have to remember that you are the customer and you are the one calling the shots. Don’t be intimidated by picking up the phone and speaking to a tradesperson direct. While online enquiries can be convenient and less intimidating, you may not receive the service you expect.

Are you confident in calling a tradesperson or do you prefer the online method? I’d love to hear your experiences.

I’m linking up with Essentially Jess for I Blog on Tuesdays.