Q&A On Generating Leads For Home Services

December 02, 2017
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We all want to generate leads.  We all need to generate leads… well qualified leads.  And if we want to accelerate growth beyond word of mouth, we need to generate leads  Yet many contractors flop hard at lead generation.  Many have no idea where to start Just take a look around contractortalk.com;

Here’s a metal roofing contractor with a very niche roofing type contemplating how to get leads and whether he should hire an agency or not.

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Here is the owner of a power washing company and handyman company who has been using lead generation services and wants to get into generating his own leads.

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Here’s the thing, no one specifically teaches how to generate leads when you start a business, or go to college.  It’s all learned through the school of hard knocks.  Admittedly it is also difficult to learn.  There’s no magic sauce.  But if you want to go from wondering where your next lead is coming from, to “HOLYSHIT how am I going to respond to all these leads” to “$$$”, you need to have a solid understanding of lead generation.  After a conversation with a friend of mine making the move from employee to owner, I think many could benefit from the discussion.

How Do I Start Getting Leads?

Before your start trying to get leads, you you need to be able to track every lead that comes in. Let me repeat that.  You need to track every lead.  Data is key.  Without proper tracking, your lead generation and advertising is going to be at best over priced and inefficient, at worst, put you out of business.  You’ll be the guy that unethical advertisers laugh at, and rip dollars from. 

I know a restoration contractor that runs multiple billboards costing $10,000+ per month, but only ‘feels’ like they work.  Many contractors have a website and get phone calls but have no clue whether the website is responsible for the calls or their sponsorship banner on their little league field. 

You need to know where every lead is coming from, that way you can calculate your return on investment and optimize your ad creative or ‘trim the fat’.  I talk about that extensively on my blog. 

How Can I Track Every Lead?

This is easier than ever but not a piece of cake.  There’s a few programs out there such as Call Tracking Metrics, What Converts, CallRail, which are installed on your website to track phone calls and contact form submissions (web leads) in a nice dashboard (I’m currently using Callrail but may be switching).  Besides website use, you can also generate phone numbers to use in other ads.

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Hold up, you mentioned a website.  Do I need one?

Yes. Yes. And Yes.  You can generate leads in some measure without it, but it won’t be as effective (as if you had a website).  An effective website is crucial to marketing any business.  Think about it.  Do you Google most businesses before hiring them?  Most folks Google before even contacting them and the website they find, is often their first impression of you company.  The website doesn’t need to be ‘award winning’, simple and effective does the trick, but it does need to breathe.  It needs to updated regularly with fresh content and look like your business is active (click the last link to go to a whole article on this).  You should also have a contact phone number, and a contact form on the site. 

I’ve Got The Website, and I Can Track Everything, Now What?

Experiment.  Experiment with different advertising sources (to generate leads).  And keep your costs contained.

Here’s the deal there’s lots of advertising methods that can work at generating leads; direct mailers, television ads, community mailers, door hangers, radio, SEO, pay-per-click, Facebook ads,  jobsite signs, networking, billboards, phone book.  Of course some are more effective than other -- phone book is going the way of the dodo bird.  Some like jobsite signs and door hangers only work if you’ve already got local jobs lined up.  Networking and SEO take some time to get rolling as a lead generation source.  Once you have proper tracking set up, you’ll be able to know what’s working and what is not, quickly and be able to optimize.  

That said, the quickest and most scalable method of lead generations is usually going to be pay-per-click, Facebook ads.  While most people just think of Google for pay-per-click, don’t overlook Bing.  Although there is a smaller audience, you can usually get a much higher ROI as a result of less competition.

Well I Need Leads Quick, Should I Do PPC & Facebook Ads Myself Or Hire Someone?

‘Learning’ Facebook Ads, and PPC is time consuming.  All things are relative.  If you’ve got the ambition I certainly recommend learning it.  If done right you’ll be able to generate leads a lower cost than anyone you hire (granted it isn’t easy achieving that).  At the very least you’ll be able to critique those you hire.  If not, no worries you’ve got everything tracked, so you’ll be able to see for yourself exactly how well whomever you hired is performing.  What I suggest however, if you will be hiring it out, is working with no contract so you can move on if you don’t see a positive ROI.  An agency that is confident in their ability to deliver results, shouldn’t have a problem with that.

What About Those Lead Generation Services like Homeadvisor? Are They Legit?

Yea, they’re legit.  They can get you leads, and leads quickly.  But I’ve found they’re pricey, and low quality.  Those folks that that request an estimate commanding a substantial amount of time only to whip out a stack of other bidders that are lower, frequently come through lead generation services.  They haven’t made a decision to contact your company.  They usually don’t know you from adam and are shopping for the lowest price. 

On top of it all the advertising isn’t building your branding.  Aside from generating leads in the short term, advertising does build your brand and get your name out there which will have some longer term payoff.  Paying a lead generation company doesn’t get you that.  They’re building their brand not yours.

So How Much Should I spend?

There is no set answer.  This goes back to experiment, and figuring out what works at what cost, and then analyzing the data and looking for ways to improve.

When you’re just starting out need to look at the margins on your services to determine what leads are worth.  As a starting point, which which works broadly across home services, I suggest spending no more than 2% of average service value.  This way if you sell one out of 5 of them, your marketing cost is 10%.  

My Services Vary In Cost What Should I Consider The Average Service Value?

For marketing you’ll need to establish a particular service that you want to target for each campaign.  You can’t and shouldn’t target everything.  When you isolate which service you want to target, use the average of that particular service.  If you’re target residential re-roofs, use the average of those services only.  Ultimately you will capture leads for other services, but for marketing you need to have one particular target.

Have Questions That I Didn't Answer? 

Let Me Know In The Comments Below!
I'll try to answer as many as I can.








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