Written by Ari Greenbaum, co-founder of conXpros
There are many factors that Home Improvement & Home Service Pros should consider when choosing the right lead generation company for their business. Of course, there are the many features of each service, the differing approaches to customer service, various billing systems, and the ability or inability to generate the right volume of leads for your specific needs. There will be prettier sites than others with different bells and whistles, there will be smooth talking salespeople, & there will be incentives to get you to join. However, there is one critical factor that will not only give you valuable insights to the type of company you choose to partner with, but also shed some light on where their primary focus is…on your success, or their own bottom line…the lead credit or refund policy!
Before diving into the details and functionality of any Home Improvement Lead Generation company’s credit policy, we must first understand the nature of web-based lead generation itself. Whether the contractor leads are a result of SEO, PPC, Display Ads, Social Media, etc they are all originating from the world wide web (WWW). I prefer to change the acronym from World Wide Web to Wild West Web, because often that is more accurate of a description. When you are working with web-based advertising, there WILL inevitably be BAD LEADS! With this in mind, any lead generation company trying to sell you on the fact that they have found the “holy grail” of sources and the quality is 100%, RUN!! This is an impossible and grossly misleading claim. There will always be human error on data entry (bad contact info), wrong categories chosen (homeowners are not educated on the details of home improvement lead categorization), mistaken submission (did not realize they would have contractors calling to provide estimates) and other factors. There is no way to completely prevent leads like this from passing through to the end user…you. So, how does a lead generation company combat this inevitability? Enter the lead credit policy. Most home improvement pros understand that they WILL GET BAD LEADS. The problem is not the receipt of the lead, rather the fact that often you are expected to pay for leads that had no real opportunity to conduct business.
There are varying definitions of what a legitimate opportunity (a lead) should consist of. There are many companies that feel they have met their obligation to you as the customer and justify the lead cost by supplying a valid name and number. Others get broader in their definition. At conXpros, our definition is simply “a legitimate opportunity to offer services to a homeowner looking to hire for a project”. We feel that this is the simplest umbrella definition to follow and thus our lead credit policy was formulated with this as the basis.
Not all lead credit policies are created equally
To date, I have yet to come across identical lead credit policies (At least from the companies that offer their policy to the general public, not just contractors that have already joined and committed their money to the service). It is important to read the policy carefully. You do not need expertise in contract law to understand exactly what the company’s approach to poor quality leads is, rather just read each word carefully and you will quickly see where their priorities are. What factors determine if a lead is eligible for credit? Most companies agree that wrong or incorrect contact information, disconnected phone numbers & duplicate leads are credit worthy. However, after those obvious qualifications, there is great disparity and range in what a lead generation company may deem as “creditable” as opposed to others (or yourself). In addition to the policy guidelines itself, there are other factors you must be aware of or risk frustration. How to report leads: does the reporting process require you to “jump through hoops” to submit a credit request or provide a user-friendly platform? The time frame for processing requests: how long or short will you have to wait for resolution and confirmation (or denial) of your credit request? How are lead credits issued: will you receive a “store credit” (often with an expiration date) or actual monies returned to you? Lack of familiarity and acceptance of these factors often contributes to a poor customer experience.
View some of the available lead credit policies out there to determine for yourself whether the policy is in your favor or the lead company’s. Here are a few links to some that are available to the public:
- HomeAdvisor (found with a little digging on the HomeAdvisor Pro resource page)
- Porch (easily found)
- Angie’s List (only available by reading the terms & conditions page)
- CraftJack (only a brief description is found in the help center as an answer to a question)
- conXpros (easily found)
- The following commonly found lead generation services do not offer their lead credit policy on the public access pages of their sites: Modernize, elocal, Networx, Houzz, & HomeYou
Once you have reviewed the policies available to the public (and if using one of the other services mentioned that do not provide their lead credit policy to the public), perform your own inspection and analysis. Does the language suggest that you “may be eligible” or that you “will be eligible”? Does the policy limit only to the generic reasons for lead credits, or does it include credit for non-contact or homeowners claiming to never have made the request? Do you receive store credits or real money back? Ask yourself, “why does the company not make their lead credit policy available online to the public?” Essentially, what you must determine to the best of your ability is whether the lead credit policy has your success in mind or the lead generators ability to maximize profitability?
These are all important factors to consider when stacking home improvement lead generation companies up against one another. Unfortunately, the reality is that even once you have determined who may be the best option for you, the question remains of whether or not they will do what they say they will do once enrolled with the service. As the old cliché goes, the proof is in the pudding. The only way to be certain that you are working with a company that genuinely cares about your success and that you spend money on genuine opportunities is to experience it. My suggestion to anyone deciding to begin a relationship with a lead provider…treat it like dating. Just like you typically do not decide you want to spend the rest of your lives together on a first date, rather after really getting to know that the person is the “one” over time. The same approach should be taken with lead generation. Start slowly, ask for limits to be placed on your accounts to avoid racking up a huge bill before KNOWING how the company will truly react and treat credit requests. See how fast the requests are processed; are they expeditious or do they drag their feet? See if the leads are in fact credited back as advertised or promised. Are lead credit requests that are denied have a logical and clear explanation as to why? Only after confirming that the credit policy matches the actions should you feel more comfortable moving further along the “courtship” process. Make them prove that they truly have your success and customer experience as the driving force behind their actions. Finding a lead generation company is easy. Finding the right one that will back up their claims with actions is a whole different story.
We at conXpros believe that the lead credit policy and its application are at the core of the company/home improvement pro relationship. It will define clearly that you have a company that operates with honesty and integrity as part of your team. I personally have gone to great lengths to help others understand our policy through available resources including a video available on our site detailing the decisions of what to credit back and what is not worthy of credit for logical reasons.
There are many options available to you as a home improvement pro when it comes to where you choose to invest your hard-earned dollars. There are plenty of companies that genuinely want to provide you good service and see you succeed other than conXpros. I encourage everyone to find what makes the most sense and works for their company, but doing so armed with the tools to effectively determine if that company is really one you can count on as a trusted partner in the success of your business. Ultimately, you must determine whose bottom line matters most, the lead generators or yours. Use the lead credit policy to look beyond the façade their website, ads or salespeople want you to see. Seek out the true motivation; is it for them to make money regardless of your success, or a mutually beneficial relationship that creates a win-win? Whatever that choice is, make sure it is the one that benefits YOU!