I'm self employed and working on my marketing. In the process I have been looking at online resources and have found two companies that are trying to make a living off our backs!!! ServiceMagic (http://www.servicemagic.com
) and NeedContractor (http://www.needcontractor.com
) are the names. Basically, when you go to look up electricians in yahoo yellow pages these 2 web sites are the first 2 entries that you see (credit them with marketing). Basically these web sites act as a single point of contact for customers and the contact info is purchased by the particpating contractors. I didn't see any published rates on needcontractor but ServiceMagic did publish their rates. It looks like you pay about (very approximate) $20 dollars a lead regardless of whether the deal gets closed. Even if you are at a %25 closure rate, that's $80 bucks a job for advertising. Considering I like to knock out a job a day on average, it doesn't take much to realize that this is sky high (50 weeks, 5 days, 80 bucks = 20k ouch!).
What really burns me is this -- what would stop an association of electricians from offering the same service for a very nominal fee to its members? Its a freakin web site for pete sake, ain't any rocket science there. Heck I run mine for $12.00 a month at yahoo. As far as prescreening goes, calfornia's department of consumer affairs keeps tabs on all contractors. Just seems like some slick business guy is trying to take a cut of this attic rat's living. When the slickster is suffering from 130 degree heat, then maybe he can take a cut of the profits!!!! If this model turns out to be the wave of the future and electricians don't develop their own site, then my rates will definitly go sky high.