Let’s face it, running an electrical contracting business isn’t easy and you are pestered by sales people all trying to get a share of your pie. The latest are Rated People, My Builder and Checkatrade. These guys claim to help electrical contractors and other tradesmen find new jobs. Having looked at these services through both formal research and by asking around, I have an opinion to share!
Real jobs are available
Powered Now asked more than 1,000 homeowners whether they had used My Builder, Rated People or Checkatrade to find a tradesman in the previous twelve months. 12% had done so.
But 70% had used a tradesmen that they had previously known or that a friend had recommended. So word-of-mouth is still the best source of leads.
They are better than yellow pages but worse than Google
These services have come up as Yellow Pages has virtually disappeared and Google and the internet grows ever more important. Only 11% of homeowners in our survey had used traditional means to find a tradesman – that includes Thomson, Yellow Pages and local papers combined. In contrast, 18% had used Google. However, it must be said that it’s harder for a local electrical contractor to advertise directly on Google than use the other services.
These new “market places” make some sense
The stated aim of these new services is to replace word-of-mouth recommendation with online customer reviews. Some chance as we have seen!
However, using both Rated People and My Builder, electrical contractors can turn new leads on and off, enabling them to only generate new business when times are otherwise quiet. That offers some real benefits. Checkatrade claims to only promote decent businesses and generates leads by TV advertising.
Each services also have their critics and some research by my company certainly raises questions about the claims.
Reputation is important
50% of home owners believed that reputation should be critical in choosing their supplier and each of the new services provides searchable feedback on their trades businesses.
If Rated People, My Builder and Checkatrade can convince people that their information on reputation can be trusted, they will end up with a lot of sway with your prospects.
The big problem?
One of the big problems is that every service relies on ratings from previous customers. Obviously, you get no ratings until you win and complete jobs, but you are much less likely to win jobs with no ratings.
Who pays the piper?
The three main players are free for homeowners but charge all electricians who use the service:
- Checkatrade has a fee that is paid once per year and its big selling point is the claim that it vets all of its tradesmen.
- Rated People and My Builder try to persuade homeowners to provide details of potential jobs, then sell the leads to tradesmen, with variations on how this works. Rated People are likely to prove more expensive, but then they advertise on TV to generate leads.
What’s it like in the real world?
If you search on the web it’s not difficult to find electrical contractors and other trades who are highly sceptical of each or all of Rated People, My Builder and Checkatrade.
Mark Goodchild of electric-call.net believes that a lot of tradesmen game Rated People by getting their friends to do feedback.
Audrey Wright posting in the UK Business Forums trade section is also highly negative: “I'm a marketer of trades/services websites in the UK. I haven't found a trade directory that offers fully legit ratings on trades and services. NONE … they are all manipulated.”
However, we have also seen postings and spoken to people who have each made at least one of the services work for them. A selection includes:
- “Personally, as a new business owner, Checkatrade has worked well for me” – GHS London posting on UK Business Forums.
- “Yeah defo My Builder. Getin (sic) loads of work off it” - Tradesman on the Builders Talk Group on Facebook.
- “I’m on Mybuilder and Rated People, and I get work from both sites but I’d choose Mybuilder” - Stuart Chivers on Facebook.
- “Rated People is good to fill in gaps in your work or if your just starting” - Jamie Barnes on Facebook.
There is a wide range of opinion, but clearly each of the marketplaces work for some people. Probably the best advice is: buyer beware but if you are ambitious give at least one of them a go.
About the author
Benjamin Dyer is CEO and co-founder of Powered Now. Powered Now’s mobile app aims to take the pain out of paperwork for individual electricians and small companies, as well as other trade businesses.