Welcome to HomeAdvisor, where the only thing more expensive than the leads that contractors pay for are the job repair costs you’re stuck with after realizing you need to hire someone who is actually qualified to do the job.
Let me take a step back. When I first started my company, JJ’s Landscaping, we had an SUV and a shitty Home Depot lawn mower. The only lawn I had mowed was for my grandpa after I accidentally backed my car into his entry gate and owed him some “community service.” We posted an ad on Craigslist for $25 lawn care services with a magnet on our car that said “Best in Town.” Then we got a call from one of the 12,456 sales reps that HomeAdvisor employs that told me they had customers waiting to contact me in my area. As a young “landscaper” I was excited. That’s how it all began.
Why HomeAdvisor is Not Worth Joining
“With HomeAdvisor, homeowners can view average project costs, find local prescreened home professionals and instantly book appointments online.” This is a quote taken directly from the website. I can tell you from firsthand experience that every word in that sentence holds as much weight as a paper bag in a rainstorm. Let’s break it down by claim.
“Homeowners can view average project costs”
Nope. Laughable. Embarrassing. I’ll explain this relative to nationwide gas prices. If you Google, “Average Gas Prices”, you will see $2.18 per gallon (as of September 29, 2020). That’s funny because I filled my car up recently in San Diego and paid $3.39 per gallon. There are certain things that can’t be summed up with a national average and make any sort of sense. I also want to make a special note that I didn’t walk into the gas station and tell them that they are crooks and that their prices are way higher than the national average–this will make more sense in a minute.
Inaccurate pricing narratives based on national averages are just as terrible as insanely wide price ranges. I think the last time I looked up “How much does it cost to install artificial turf?” it came up with a range of $2-$35. No shit, Sherlock. I have never produced rocket fuel, but I can confidently tell you it will range between $1-$1,000,000.
Here’s how HomeAdvisor’s claims affect you, the homeowner. You have unrealistic expectations. You are basing my time off of a national average, and will end up going with a low cost contractor instead of listening to someone like me who sells this everyday in your area with the product I’m showing you. The kicker is that with necessary repairs you are going to end up paying roughly the same price when everything is said and done.
“Find local prescreened home professionals”
As qualified as I was before I was licensed, driving around town in my GMC Terrain with a toy sized lawn mower and Bob the Builder sticker. I will go out on a limb and say that I had no business being called a “pre-screened home professional.”
HomeAdvisor makes money by charging service providers a fee per lead that they give you. They tend to turn a blind eye to the importance of official business documents when someone is willing to pay them $67 per lead.
To get pre-screened on HomeAdvisor, I went online and applied for a tax ID number that cost me about $117, waited three weeks, walked down to my local city office with a boyish smile on my face and asked very politely if they would give me a business license, paid them $37 or so, and sent that to HomeAdvisor rep #3258 for immediate approval. They were even kind enough to make me a top candidate for the bargain price of $299.
“Instantly book appointments online”
Well, sorta. As soon as you, the homeowner, fill out the application for what you would like to have done around your home, you will be handed off to a list of 3-7 contractors who will have access to your email and a special phone number to call you. You can book instantly for a quote, but that is a rarity and based off of your own research with 3-4 documents and just as few pictures.
Bottom line, you are opening yourself up to “pre-screened professionals” to come in and tell you whatever they want based on national averages provided by HomeAdvisor.
I want to make sure that I am clear, this is by no means a knock on the thousands of reputable contractors that use HomeAdvisor. This is me telling those contractors to stop wasting their time with a company that overcharges for leads and gives those same leads to someone with a GMC Terrain, a lawn mower and a couple weeks of experience paying back grandpa for breaking his gate.
At this point you gotta be thinking “Jeesh, look at big britches over here bashing a company that gave him his start without providing a solution.” You’re right, thank you HomeAdvisor for having a broken system and allowing me to use your national averages to underbid quality contractors, using your instant book system, based on misconceptions and my pre-screened title of “Landscaper”.
There is a better way that doesn’t include only hiring guys that I vouch for. Talk to your neighbors, talk to your local suppliers or talk to a contractor that you have used in the past that did good work for you. You are not alone in this fight, but you have to be willing to do the legwork to find what you are looking for and not just rely on a flawed, impersonal system.