Angie's List: Getting "Certified" worth it? And any help/insight on this, really!

eyehearttrees

Active Member
Location
Tampa-Area
I had an awesome talk with a really successful tree-sevice-owner and he swore by Angie's List (though he has like a dozen trucks & 30yrs buildup, but still he was recommending I utilize it)

I already setup a "Facebook business Page" account which went surprisingly better than expected (I've yet to pay, they're eager for credit-card# to "boost" posts....the model kinda disgusts me but I expect I'll shudder & pay at some point for "a Boost")

Then after speaking to the aforementioned successful guy, I began asking all my current clients Q's like "Who would you call if you needed electric/plumbing/etc ASAP?" and Angie's was like >3/4ths reply!!

I signed-up, bare-minimum information entered, on Sun PM (woulda had it "private" until I had time to properly set it up) Then, Mon AM, I get a call from them(Angie's), trying to sell me on being Certified, salesman was good (I am/was a great salesman, and can tell you this guy probably sells at least 3/4 people who answer the phone) took half hour to end the call on good rapport with the plan I'd be having 5 of my clients basically review me & then he ("my rep" with Angie's) would confirm them and then I'm "Certified", and this.....somehow this is better than *not* being Certified.

I know sales, it was as hard a sell-tactic as I've had to deal with in ages. IF only their pay-to-play listings are worth doing, I'd like to know, and would love to know any specifics (I could not get a clear answer from him just exactly how pricing worked, and he all but told me "season's picking-up[here in FL, business is about to reallly pick up over the coming 2mo], and once we're full-up we're full", I actually intervened and said something like "well if I miss-out because I waited a week to become Certified then I guess I miss-out" and he pivoted back :p

So yeah....I don't have any intention of spending $50/mo on some advert service, my intent is more like spending $50 - all summer - boosting a couple Facebook-business-page posts.....but the pay-to-play nature of Angie's has me wondering just how useful it is, and obviously I can't get unbiased info from my 'agent' on there so here I am hoping for advice!!

(I'm a 1-person, sole-proprietor insured operation, doing almost exclusively limb removals maybe 1 of 10 jobs is a removal and then I'm "sub contracting" my friend to help as he has a chipper, maybe angie's *is* a great deal but is bigger than I should be looking right now? Although, on that same line of thinking, IF I could pay $300/mo to have my phone ring 10x/day with legit leads, I could cherry-pick my jobs and it'd wayyyyy cover that 300 fee!!)
 

arborandearth

Well-Known Member
Location
Chico
I have experience with a similar service - Home Advisor. You pay per lead - their cost per lead is a mystery algorithm.

I had a great experience when starting my business. 90% of leads are warm. It takes work managing it though - call leads 2x right away, dispute bad leads (wrong type of service or no response) immediately, and pause the leads when busy. Ask for 5 star reviews when done.

It turned out to be much less expensive than other forms of advertising that I've considered and leads are ready to buy - they jump through a few hoops to be contacted. The service also boosts your Google search index, pulls up your reviews right away, and even allows people to find your business without using the service and when you are paused.

I cancelled the service after 2 years because I can barely keep up with my feee Google page and word of mouth.

It was perfect to jump start my business.
 

macrocarpa

Well-Known Member
Location
Midwest
When I first started with Angies list the customers paid $10/month or something like that and it was free for the business owner. It was up to quality work recognized by customers to get in there and be at the top of the list with good reviews. I got quite a few good customers back when this was the set up.

Then they changed it to the business paid a monthly fee and I was quoted some ridiculous monthly payments (pushy rubs me wrong). I still have a profile but its buried by paying businesses.

I'm sure you could get a lot of work from Angies list but free Google reviews do a lot too from my experience.
 

arborandearth

Well-Known Member
Location
Chico
FYI - HA leads cost from $12 to $50 and nobody can explain how it is calculated. I've paid $50 for a rose bush plant (refunded for wrong service) and $12 for $8k job with removals and pruning.

I've also heard HA reliability varies by region.
 

Reach

Well-Known Member
Location
Atglen, PA
Around here, Angies List seems to have faded out. I think it’s somewhat of a reasonable thing though, if your customers are mostly saying they use it, give it a try, commit to three months or six months, and see what it does for you. It takes at least three months to get a hint of what an advertising method will do, usually six months to actually know for sure.

We have used CraftJack in the past, it’s owned by Home Advisor, so we got a lot of Home Advisor leads. It was expensive advertising (often $1500/month!), but it did give us a good boost early on.

The big problem you will have with any lead generation service though, is tire kickers. You will have a lot of people who are only looking for a price, who actually have no intention of doing the work, or who just want the lowest price guy in town so they are getting a dozen quotes for everything they do.
 

Jhilliard6

New Member
Location
Tucson
I've been having my own troubled getting word of mouth to spread to get more tree work, as I operate a tree service and landscaping company but the majority of work always falls to landscaping and it's hard to take any bit of the pie from the larger tree companies in town, who have certs and bucket trucks and very nice websites.

I tried HA before for landscaping but it was a joke, too many people asking for menial tasks which buried you in their fees while barely breaking even.
Tree work might be different though?
 

Jhilliard6

New Member
Location
Tucson
Around here, Angies List seems to have faded out. I think it’s somewhat of a reasonable thing though, if your customers are mostly saying they use it, give it a try, commit to three months or six months, and see what it does for you. It takes at least three months to get a hint of what an advertising method will do, usually six months to actually know for sure.

We have used CraftJack in the past, it’s owned by Home Advisor, so we got a lot of Home Advisor leads. It was expensive advertising (often $1500/month!), but it did give us a good boost early on.

The big problem you will have with any lead generation service though, is tire kickers. You will have a lot of people who are only looking for a price, who actually have no intention of doing the work, or who just want the lowest price guy in town so they are getting a dozen quotes for everything they do.
And those who just want to ask questions with no intention of actually paying for the work were my main concern going forward HA or any one similar to them. But I figure those who inquire about tree work on the site must be somewhat ready to hire someone, if the price is right.
 

Reach

Well-Known Member
Location
Atglen, PA
I've been having my own troubled getting word of mouth to spread to get more tree work, as I operate a tree service and landscaping company but the majority of work always falls to landscaping and it's hard to take any bit of the pie from the larger tree companies in town, who have certs and bucket trucks and very nice websites.

I tried HA before for landscaping but it was a joke, too many people asking for menial tasks which buried you in their fees while barely breaking even.
Tree work might be different though?
Tree work can be different, as it tends to be more expensive - in my opinion though the problem may be with your pricing model. Set your minimum charges high enough to cover the cost of going out - if that means your minimum charge is a half day of labor, so be it. People will either pay it or go elsewhere, either way you come out ahead by not working for free.
 

Reach

Well-Known Member
Location
Atglen, PA
And those who just want to ask questions with no intention of actually paying for the work were my main concern going forward HA or any one similar to them. But I figure those who inquire about tree work on the site must be somewhat ready to hire someone, if the price is right.
There will always be some of those, who do not actually have any interest in getting work done. If you can get them to admit that to you, you can complain to your account manager and Home Advisor will refund you that lead. They have an amazing amount of latitude and giving you refunds, as long as they believe you are asking legitimately.

When we were using CraftJack, we had a scheduled weekly call with our account manager to go over all of our leads and refund the bad ones. It was a nuisance, but it worked.
 

Jhilliard6

New Member
Location
Tucson
There will always be some of those, who do not actually have any interest in getting work done. If you can get them to admit that to you, you can complain to your account manager and Home Advisor will refund you that lead. They have an amazing amount of latitude and giving you refunds, as long as they believe you are asking legitimately.

When we were using CraftJack, we had a scheduled weekly call with our account manager to go over all of our leads and refund the bad ones. It was a nuisance, but it worked.
Damn thanks for that info Reach.. I might give it a go then, and worst case it's a learning experience.
 

southsoundtree

Well-Known Member
Location
Olympia, WA
Have good Large Signage THAT YOU CAN READ FROM FAR AWAY on your truck.

I thought my vinyl signs were only going to last 3 years. 13 years later, it's still good on my chip truck.

A simple LARGE AS POSSIBLE website name high on the bed, which can be read over shorter cars and trucks... and have a Service Request webpage on your site.
 

27RMT0N

Well-Known Member
Location
WA
I've been contacted by angies list and a few others since starting my business, and most of the time they have misrepresented themselves or outright lied to me in order to get my time and attention. Literally pretending to be local customers to draw me into their shitty sales pitch, despite knowing nothing about where I live and work. The drawbacks of being a registered business with a publicly available phone/email/mailing address. None of them have had a single thing to offer me in terms of helpful service. It's obnoxious, but has finally stopped after about three years.

That said, I live in an isolated community of a few thousand people. Locals recognize each other by the vehicles we drive and wave, contractors are literally on a first name basis with the population ("oh, you need XYZ done? call bob!"), I don't have a website and my only advertisements are the occasional 8x10" flyer at the hardware store, barbershop and post office. And I'm busier than I'd like to be. It's a serious lifestyle choice being where I am and while it makes for a unique situation where 'normal' business advice and 'support services' basically don't apply, I wouldn't change it for anything. I realize this isn't especially helpful to your situation, just wanted to point out that it's all about knowing your individual market. These companies aren't here to help you, at most that is a side-benefit to their own profits.
 
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OasisTree

Well-Known Member
Location
Central Missouri
In my opinion lead service companies tilt everything too much toward them, and they are in it to make money. If you can play the system and they are well known in your area it will work. But as you get busier and your response and lead time gets longer you will lose jobs to those that can get there right away (new startups). That was my experience.
 

eyehearttrees

Active Member
Location
Tampa-Area
I'm sure you could get a lot of work from Angies list but free Google reviews do a lot too from my experience.
Did you have to do anything "special" to set it up? Did you enter CC/$ info? I ask because I was hoping to use that - had a very brutal rejection from new-client ($300 easy canopy-lift, woulda been polesaw only) when I showed-up to do the work because "I wasn't on google" so I setup the google-biz account, got their "secret activation code" mailed to me and activated it, even subsequently setup google-voice from the account, yet I still cannot get reviews on it (same on facebook as well actually, on neither platform could I enter reviews, haven't tried in a week so gonna mess with them again once home today but if there's any "hangups" you or anyone encountered like this I'd be eager to hear!)



[is your username that of Ficus M.'s? I'm in mid-FL, half decade in bonsai artistry, I have a lotta fun w/ that cultivar ;D ]
I have experience with a similar service - Home Advisor. You pay per lead - their cost per lead is a mystery algorithm.

I had a great experience when starting my business. 90% of leads are warm. It takes work managing it though - call leads 2x right away, dispute bad leads (wrong type of service or no response) immediately, and pause the leads when busy. Ask for 5 star reviews when done.
Seems HA bought Angie's (and that that is "at the center" of the issue Re "perceived unfairness" when Angie's is saying "no businesses pay to be with us!" to the clients, and then telling me/business owners "if you don't pay, your listing will be buried, this is 100% a pay-to-play service"....) So....yeah if they work I may have to bite that bullet- and cancel the moment I've gotten maybe 5-10 new leads (I land referrals and "neighbors see you so they ask for work" jobs incredibly frequently)

90%....frickin' wow!!! That's amazing, I mean after I signed up and quickly got rushed by angie's salesmen, including my "account rep/manager" who was able to keep me on the phone for half an hour (am still disappointed in myself for allowing that last week..), in fact our 2nd talk is in <1hour from now scheduled for 10a today, when I decide what I'm actually gonna pay for.....think I am going to tell him I'm not ready to pay today because I found a free facebook group - only allow adverts on Mondays - so am listing there right now and suspect a reasonable chance I could find the leads I need there (I must note that my leads-seeking is just to keep me/myself&I with a full workload, once I can fill 5 jobs/week I won't really be needing any of these services anymore...have zero interest in "expansion" beyond getting 1 person under me, and even that I don't intend to do this year)

Thanks again for the inside info, couldn't find much specifics anywhere (STILL uncertain what the "minimum buy-in" is, like I dunno if I can say "Here's $20, I want to test it for a couple days" or if it starts at "$75/mo for economy/bare-minimum package"...), so these verifications that their pay-to-play isn't "a scam" (well....) and that the pay-per-lead seems manageable enough once you're up&moving (for me, right now, I could not handle a $200/mo addition unless I was beyond-positive I'd double that money with it, am thankful I have all the gear I need because currently my finances are in a poor position, past 6wks have sucked for me work-wise :(.. )
 

eyehearttrees

Active Member
Location
Tampa-Area
Have good Large Signage THAT YOU CAN READ FROM FAR AWAY on your truck.

I thought my vinyl signs were only going to last 3 years. 13 years later, it's still good on my chip truck.

A simple LARGE AS POSSIBLE website name high on the bed, which can be read over shorter cars and trucks... and have a Service Request webpage on your site.
LOVE it!! Have done bandit signs/car magnets/etc the whole roll-out (including big direct mail campaigns), dunno how I didn't think of this (oh wait yeah I do it's because I'm a shy/bashful guy who's ability to self-promote is like 1% of what it was when I was in my early-20's :p FWIW I'm late 30's now)
Thanks a lot for the suggestion, it also reminds me that I forgot my t-shirts, I'm going to make a couple screen-printed t-shirts so I can have my company name("eyehearttrees tree service") and # on my back whenever out, I've gotten enough jobs from people actively soliciting me in stores because I'm in-between a job&getting home and still have my harness on, so am confident that the phone# could/would be useful, for those who woulda wanted to approach me but did not :)
[also you're quite on-point insofar as the "nuts&bolts" part Re large/visibility/simplicity, and especially the "sevice request" or "call to action" as marketers(ugh) say, being up-front & visible....on my main page, which is a facebook-business Page, my phone# is only listed on the "info"(not up top with the graphics), need to remedy that as I know it's not optimized for "quick-click contacting" which is important for turning interest-into-action with clients!]
 

eyehearttrees

Active Member
Location
Tampa-Area
We have used CraftJack in the past, it’s owned by Home Advisor, so we got a lot of Home Advisor leads. It was expensive advertising (often $1500/month!), but it did give us a good boost early on.
Do you remember if there were "cheap packages" available and, if so, whether they were inferior (or simply smaller)?

I could see paying that IF my phone were ringing so often that i could cherry-pick my jobs, though that seems a bit unfair/schemey...How many people in your operation when you were spending that much? I must be real clear that I'm a solo operator who couldn't handle a workload of >5-8 real jobs / week (depending on their size obviously, I guess I mean to say that I'm solely looking to find/create about 4 new jobs / week from where I am right now, wherein I'm doing a 1-2 tree jobs, maybe 1-2 landscape and 1-2 handyman!)

The big problem you will have with any lead generation service though, is tire kickers. You will have a lot of people who are only looking for a price, who actually have no intention of doing the work, or who just want the lowest price guy in town so they are getting a dozen quotes for everything they do.
Well....I am probably the lowest-priced guy (insured guy) in my area....am actually gonna be making a thread w/ some projects/tree-pics to get an idea what you guys woulda charged (am guessing I'll be too embarrassed to even say what I'd charged..)
 

eyehearttrees

Active Member
Location
Tampa-Area
What exactly does "Certified" mean in Angieland? I'm wondering if that term will cause confusion between Angie's "Certification" and ISA certification.
It means you've paid them, and they've verified your reviewers' legitimacy....then they tell the customer/leads base "Businesses don't pay to be on here", honestly I'd put it in a note on my Angie's page "Note: I am paying for boosted promotion" but suspect angie's wouldn't tolerate that kinda thing (if they would, I wouldn't feel right omitting it)

What's the cheapest possible way to get an ISA cert? I'm still uncertain if I should be "joining" and getting membership as priority, or going for my first exam/cert as the priority (also having a lotta trouble figuring out how valuable it'll be to me right now...but it looks like I can get one for <$400, and am quite sure it's value to me over this season would be >$400!! By "price" I mean the bare minimum to actually "signup, go, take exam, receive physical or electronic proof", am sure I'll "be a member" eventually since I want the master cert but, for right now, really just want the ISA badging and the knowledge&ability that comes with their "tree risk assessment" cert)
 

eyehearttrees

Active Member
Location
Tampa-Area
I've been contacted by angies list and a few others since starting my business, and most of the time they have misrepresented themselves or outright lied to me in order to get my time and attention.

They "double-pronged" me, when I signed up I got contacted by "an individual" from Home Advisor, saying they've got clients needing work right now, I almost cheered out loud at the lottery I'd just won (landlords/realtors are some of my best clients, so this sounded awesome), then I realized it wasn't at all what it appeared, the person did *not* have anyone for me to go work for :p
 

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