If you’re a tradesperson who is still trying to market your business exclusively through paperbound magazines and directories, it’s fair to say that you’re more than a little behind the times these days.
However, if you’re sufficiently internet-savvy to be reading this, we suspect that you already do a certain amount of your marketing online – even if it’s merely word of mouth.
The rise and rise of online services
You’d pretty much need to be practising your trade on Mars, in fact, to not be aware of such services as Checkatrade, Rated People and – of course – MyBuilder (www.mybuilder.com), which has just picked up two big seals of approval with a thumbs up from Good Housekeeping magazine and its ‘Reader Recommended’ accreditation, while also becoming ‘Mumsnet Rated’ by the users of the popular parenting site. All of these businesses have more-or-less already replaced physical directories as the first places people look for a tradesman.
It’s not hard to see why – such sites are designed for the utmost convenience of homeowners and tradespeople alike, with a large proportion of today’s tradesmen having profiles on them.
So, as seasoned specialists in tradesmen insurance here at Tradesman Saver, we thought we’d take a closer look at these sites and consider how they compare to each other.
Convenience and ease of use
You’d expect any well-known and long-established tradesperson-finding service to be easy to use, and sure enough, this can be said of Checkatrade, Rated People and MyBuilder alike.
However, there’s a subtle but important distinction to be made between them, in that Checkatrade has more the feel of a traditional directory serving the homeowner by enabling them to search for and contact tradespeople directly. Rated People works on a slightly different basis, with homeowners being invited to post jobs that tradesmen can actively buy leads for.
MyBuilder is not unlike Rated People in this sense, as – while it enables tradesmen to create their own profile on the site, as with Checkatrade – they can also choose the leads that interest them for free, and only pay a fee when the customer adds to them to a shortlist of people they want to carry out the work.
There are certain advantages that the MyBuilder system has over the Rated People one, though, as we’ll explain a little further below.
When you are comparing these directories as a tradesperson and considering which ones to sign up to, it’s vital to be well-versed in exactly what they cost, and what you’ll get for your outlay.
Let’s take a look at how the process of securing jobs works on Rated People, for instance. Homeowners post job leads on the site that are sorted by postcode, trade and skill type, so tradesmen registered on Rated People can be sure of being presented with opportunities of relevance to them.
However, if you want to pursue a particular job lead on Rated People, you’ll need to purchase it. Only once you do, will you receive the customer’s mobile number and email address that will enable you to get in touch directly for more specific details about the job and quote. It is at this stage that the customer will also be sent your profile page, ratings and contact details.
But with the same lead able to be purchased by up to three tradesmen on the site, there’s no guarantee that you will get the job, just because you bought the lead. Instead, you’ll effectively be competing with other tradesmen to be picked to do the work.
If, then, you miss out on the job to someone else, you will have effectively spent money for nothing… save for the vague possibility of the customer using the contact details they now have to get in touch with you in the future.
The situation is rather different with MyBuilder. You can express interest in leads on the site completely free of charge, and you’ll only be charged a fee if the customer shortlists you. So in other words, you’ll only need to pay once it’s obvious that the customer is interested in you.
This means it’s then up to you to follow up, using the homeowner’s verified phone number that the site provides you with at the shortlisting stage, to maximise your chances of winning the job. Furthermore, the shortlisting fee you pay each time could be less than £2, depending on the size of the given job.
Oh, and it’s worth mentioning one more thing on the costs front – tradesmen on MyBuilder aren’t charged any joining fees, membership fees or hidden fees. Rated People, by contrast, works on the basis of monthly membership plans, although you do get some of your money back in the form of credit to spend on leads on the site.
History and reputation
Checkatrade, Rated People and MyBuilder are all well-established businesses, set up in 1998, 2005 and 2004 respectively.
All have invested significantly in their marketing over the years. Checkatrade, for example, has become known for its sponsorship of the EFL Trophy.
Rated People, meanwhile, has called upon Phil Spencer of Channel 4 Location, Location, Location fame in its marketing; a section of the site’s blog is dedicated to his thoughts on such topics as home improvement projects to avoid, porch ideas, home selling tips and more.
MyBuilder ran a TV campaign featuring presenter Amanda Lamb in its adverts, as well as sponsoring afternoon entertainment programming on Channel 4.
The most important thing to appreciate is that while some services may plough a lot of money into their marketing, it’s the service you get for your money that really counts – and all three of these sites are highly respected names among customers and tradesmen alike.
So… which is the winner?
For all of their differences, all three of these sites excel in their own respective ways. Indeed, given that they’re all among the best-known and highest-regarded online services for tradespeople to find work, you can probably expect great returns from a presence on any combination of them.
However, it may be that certain sites are more suitable for certain types of tradesman than others – and of course, the ongoing costs also have to be kept in mind. If controlling your budget is important to you, then MyBuilder certainly gives the most flexibility. The ‘best’ of these sites, then, is likely to depend on the particular circumstances and needs of your business.
By carefully considering each of the above factors as well as taking a multi-pronged approach to your online marketing in general to bolster your business’s chances of ranking prominently on the Google search engine results pages (SERPs) for local customers, you can be well-placed to grow your leads and with it, your revenues, profits and reputation as a tradesman.