Yup, it’s that painful!

A profitable business needs good advertising. You want qualified leads drooling at the mouth, ready to pick up the phone and ask about your offer. Millions of homeowners flock to digital marketplaces to find the best garage door repair, junk removal, and carpet cleaning service providers.

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Advertise smart – not expensive

But finding the right channel to advertise on can be tough. Homeowners are like parents of newborns and don’t want just any Joe Schmo coming into their home, invading their personal space, and touching their infant. And it makes sense—people take pride in where they live and only want top-notch service providers in their sanctuary. Your advertising and reviews need to assure you that you’re safe, you’re a professional, and you deliver great work.

If you’re struggling to advertise smart, we’ve compared the top three lead generation services—HomeAdvisor, Angie’s List, and Thumbtack—to see what’s worth your time and advertising dollars.


HomeAdvisor: The full scoop

HomeAdvisor connects homeowners with awesome service professionals just like you. Over 30 million potential customers browse HomeAdvisor’s site for appliance repair, garage door repair, and other home maintenance services. But, what sets HomeAdvisor apart from Angie’s List and Thumbtack is that they deliver only “qualified” leads to your doorstep. Or so they say…

How does HomeAdvisor work?

With their Profinder technology, HomeAdvisor will rummage through relevant service pros and match the buyer’s location, availability, and project needs. Once you receive a qualified lead, the site will then charge you a fee for their contact information. Sweet deal, right? But there’s a catch.

Let’s say I need my 20-foot windows cleaned from top to bottom. I reach out to your window cleaning business but ultimately decide not to purchase because the window cleaners across town are $100 cheaper; HomeAdvisor will still make you pay a fee.

How do you set up an account on HomeAdvisor?

Create a business profile; you’ll have to go through a criminal background, sex offender, civil judgment, and state license screening to be approved by their system. Set a monthly lead budget and wait for instant booking, instant connect, or job opportunity leads.

Who is HomeAdvisor right for?

If you’re a small business, a one-person operation, or just starting out, HomeAdvisor is great for getting your feet wet in advertising. New service pros often struggle with identifying their ideal customers; you can work with clients you may never have envisioned. You might enjoy working on bathroom remodeling gigs but only have experience working on smaller projects. HomeAdvisor could land you a massive project, a huge payout, and maybe even a repeat client.

How much does it cost to advertise on HomeAdvisor?

HomeAdvisor charges two annual fees, a $25 prorated fee and $300 for membership, but your biggest expenses will come from leads. The average lead will fall between $15-$70, with sophisticated projects costing more. So, if you get 20 leads per month at $15 each, you’ll pay $4,200 for the year.

How do you make money on HomeAdvisor?

If you look around the web, you’ll find plenty of service pros unsatisfied with lead quality. Avoid any letdown by remembering that HomeAdvisor is a business. They have their best interest in mind and focus on growing their company (and their bottom line) over yours. Develop a simple and automated sales process; know exactly how you’ll take homeowners from window shoppers to happy customers.

Hidden tips and tricks to master HomeAdvisor:

  • SEO keywords:
    Leads can find you through Google search, too, so practice smart SEO. If you own a maid service that favors commercial buildings, remove any keywords that might attract a married couple with 5 kids who need their basement cleaned.
  • Update your profile quarterly:
    Customers love to see your latest work; you can never have too many before-and-after photos to sell your process, your sweet service, and your stellar results.

HomeAdvisor: Our final verdict

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

HomeAdvisor’s Better Business Bureau page has 1,700 complaints from service pros charged for bad leads who didn’t fit the description they desired. Should this stop you? We don’t think so. Getting your advertising off the ground is worth the hassle of a few dead ends. Save time getting leads if you don’t have the budget for SEO or content marketing for your own website.

home advisor screenshot

Angie’s List Pro: The Full Scoop

There’s a huge Angie’s List vs. HomeAdvisor debate. Essentially, they run on the same concept, and service pros have a lot of complaints about both. You will find many service pros use both for lead generation but get dramatically different results. Angie’s List is used by 6 million homeowners, boasts 12 million verified reviews, and offers 720 services.

How does Angie’s list work?

Unlike HomeAdvisor (but a little more like Clash Royale), Angie’s List is a freemium service with no annual fees that doesn’t charge for contact information. Awesome, right? But wait—there’s another catch. To keep your profile at the top of the results pages, you’ll have to keep it at an A or B letter grade. Angie’s List allows unfiltered reviews of your services to customers and prospects who don’t buy. Grades also determine whether or not you can advertise with pay-per-click ads.

How do you set up an account on Angie’s List?

Create your company page, seek out ratings, and become a “certified service provider.” This means being screened annually for felony convictions, a verified page, A or B rating, and any required license.

How much does Angie’s List cost?

You can spend as little as $20 or tens of thousands monthly on advertising. Paying more will get your ad in front of a larger audience. Digital marketing firm Motava says the average cost per click is $4-$8.

Who is Angie’s List Right For?

  • Home repair services: Junk removal experts, garage door repair professionals, appliance repair specialists, carpet cleaners, etc.
  • Professional services: Consultants and event planners
  • Auto business: Auto technicians for brake repairs and oil changes.

How do you make money on Angie’s List?

Develop a detailed ad strategy. Don’t go Mad Men and make it too complex—save that for your own website. Reach out to non-competing businesses that boast tons of reviews and ask for advice on creating ads. Create incentives to get reviews, like offering a 15-minute free consultation to drive sales.

Hidden tips and tricks to master Angie’s List:

This tip comes from Workiz: stop fake leads outside of your industry with bad names or discontinued numbers. Hold Angie’s List accountable and demand refunds on a monthly basis.

Angie’s List: Final verdict

Angie’s List versus HomeAdvisor will remain a hot topic amongst home service professionals. At first glance, Angie’s List seems like a better option for generating leads because it’s free. But its rating system demands more from new business owners; you’ll need to hustle to get positive reviews. You have to impress paying customers, and anyone who interacts with your brand, so Angie’s List is best for small, short-term projects. Don’t throw too much money into ads, you may hardly break even at times.

But if you have the budget and an ad that you’re confident will outperform competitors, give it a shot.

angie list

Thumbtack Pro: The full scoop

Thumbtack, with over 10 million users and 1,100 services offered, aims to help you find all kinds of work online. Unlike Angie’s List or HomeAdvisor, which will mostly help home service professionals find more work, Thumbtack also helps caterers, DJs, makeup artists, and even attorneys find more customers.

If you want to respond faster to Thumbtack Leads and Close More Jobs, we have full integration with Thumbtack now 🔥

How does Thumbtack work?

Thumbtack Pro matches projects to service pros. Pros (that’s you) pay every time they send a quote to prospects and bid on jobs. There’s even a mobile app. Of course, you can manually bid on jobs when they appear, but the really cool feature is an automated lead generation feature called “Instant Match,” which allows you to submit pre-written information on services and quotes. In the Thumbtack vs. HomeAdvisor discussion, HomeAdvisor loses on this end.

How do you set up an account on Thumbtack?

To set up a business profile, select a category and upload a headshot, an introduction of yourself, business hours, your company’s history, areas of service, and payment methods.

Who is Thumbtack right for?

Thumbtack caters to every type of working professional. This can be both a good and bad thing. Let’s start with the bad: Because Thumbtack also caters to service pros outside of home services, only a small percentage of prospects on the site will be looking for you, and so leads could possibly show up once-in-a blue moon. The good part: less competition. Other home service professionals may brush off or abandon their profiles, so seize the opportunity to dominate your category and become the best option for leads on Thumbtack.

How much does Thumbtack cost?

There are no sign-up costs for Thumbtack. Tiny project bids for sink or faucet repairs cost around $8, while larger jobs will run $60+, on par with HomeAdvisor.

How do you make money on Thumbtack?

Bidding sites like Thumbtack are notorious for forcing business owners to lower prices to close a sale. But, nothing feels more degrading than working below your pay grade. How to beat the race to the bottom? When you bid on a project, make it tailored to each individual prospect; don’t rush just because it’s been a long day and you want to make a quota. Make your offer stand out against 15+ lazy messages.

Hidden tips and tricks to master Thumbtack:

  • Respond faster:
    Feed Thumbtack leads directly into your CRM. Integrate Workiz with Thumbtack, so your leads land right in your inbox. Respond right away and close jobs before your competitors even know what hit them.
  • Optimize campaigns: 
    Use Workiz’s Phone System to track how many leads come from your Thumbtack listing vs. how many have converted into sales. Measure ad spend and ROI from every campaign to know whether Thumbtack (or any other lead generation site) is worth the investment.
  • Write a comprehensive profile:
    Top service pros within a niche have an engaging, well-crafted mission statement in their bio. Service pros who aren’t putting in the effort sloppily throw together 1-2 sentences. We won’t bother asking which kind you want to be.
thumbtack screenshot

Final verdict: Thumbtack vs. HomeAdvisor vs. Angie’s List

Bidding sites force you to sell yourself short to compete, and sites like Thumbtack attracts buyers outside the home service industry, which can result in lower-quality leads. If you prefer to stay on platforms that exclusively cater to home services, Thumbtack competitors like HomeAdvisor and Angie’s List are a better bet. One feature that sets Thumbtack apart is that you know your competitors’ starting price off the bat, so you know your position on the playing field. Thumbtack can be used as an additional marketing tool but will most likely bring price-sensitive clients.

Does online lead generation work? Absolutely. Will HomeAdvisor, Angie’s List, or Thumbtack advertising grow your business? That’s up to you and how you utilize them.

Smart business owners diversify their marketing campaigns and don’t expect leads to come from one source. Next, they measure their ad spend to ensure they’re making money from each ad channel they invest in (with a system like Workiz Call Masking.) Then, they trim the fat and cut out the ad channels that aren’t making a profit or are leaving them in the red (one Workiz customer, Dion, from Hudson River Chimney saves $600-$700 a month on his ad spend, just by using the Workiz Phone System).
Home service providers are killing it in digital marketplaces, so don’t miss out. If you need a reliable software you can count on to manage your scheduling, invoicing, payments, and ad campaign tracking, Workiz offers a 7-day free trial to up your business’s game.

Plumber With A Mobile Phone

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