If you’re already accredited by a competent person’s scheme with the relevant qualifications, a quick way to gain a reputation is by joining a tradesman recommendation site. These are websites where customers can leave you real reviews on your services, to hopefully entice more customers to employ you.
These sites help customers avoid cowboy builders whilst at the same time helping tradesmen to promote and grow their business. Essentially it can be a win win for reputable businesses.
But which site would you choose? We’ve looked into the top sites on the market today, and compared them below. When carrying out our research we have found there are two main types of sites:
Sites that charge tradesmen an annual fee to be vetted and listed
Sites that make their money by selling leads to tradesmen
We believe it is important for consumers and tradesmen to understand the difference between these types of site and how that can benefit them.
Checkatrade is the original trade recommendation website. It started even before the internet really took off in the late 1990's. The scheme was originally set up in conjunction with the police after a tornado caused havoc in January 1998 in Selsey on the South Coast. An army of rogue traders descended on the area carrying out shoddy repairs and ripping people off. In response Kevin Byrne set up “Scout” a printed directory and continued to do so for 3 years until the opportunity came along to publish online.
It is important to know the background to Checkatrade as it was originally set up to solve a problem and help consumers. This ethos still runs through the company today and its reputation is one of the most important factors that helps consumers and tradesmen use the service. It generates its revenue from tradesmen who pay to be vetted and listed on the website. Once registered there is no extra charges for receiving leads. Customers simply browse the website and are able to view tradesmen profiles in their area and call them for a quote. Once the job is complete all customers are then encouraged to leave honest feedback on the tradesmen. This means that customers have some form of leverage should a job not get completed to their satisfaction.
The fact that Checkatrade are consumer focussed and spend vast amounts of money on advertising on TV and radio to attract consumers to the website is one of the main reasons tradesmen should be drawn to the service. By focussing on the consumer Checkatrade are actually serving the tradesmen as best they can by generating brand awareness and customers for their tradesmen.
Feedback from students in our centre is that many simply join Checkatrade and that’s all the advertising they need to do to keep them busy all year.
Rated people are probably to second most popular trade recommendation site in the UK. They turn the Checkatrade model on its head by focussing on the tradesman. This does have its benefits as it means a low monthly fee of £15 per month and then you only pay for the leads you want. The site does a great job of vetting the customers for the tradesmen by asking lots of questions about the type of job, specific details of the jobs and even qualifies when the job is needed and the customers budget.
What this means for the tradesmen is they only incur costs when they see the right job, in the right location at the right price. It also means less time is wasted providing quotes for people who are maybe contacting lots and lots of companies as only 3 tradesmen can buy the details of the job.
The site seems to work very well, however for consumers we feel that it lacks the ability to easily search and contact tradesmen based on their feedback. It does however send the customer the profiles of the tradesmen so they can check the previous feedback from other customers before choosing which one to hire.
Like Checkatrade, TrustATrader is also focused on vetting tradesmen and then advertising their services online for consumers to search. They are very similar to Checkatrade and also advertise regularly on TV and Radio.
TrustATrader are also very consumer focussed, however they seem to have a few unique selling points for tradesmen which we think Checkatrade should look into too. They allow tradesmen to take card payments with no monthly fees, they limit membership in each area to prevent too much competition and they offer a text a trader service too. They seem to generally do a better job of selling their services to traders too making them look more appealing for those looking to join.
Generally the site is very well built and is easy and intuitive to navigate.
My builder is to Rated People what TrustATrader is to Checkatrade. It is a slightly smaller challenger with a very similar offering. However in terms of vetting customers and jobs it does not seem to be anywhere near as detailed as Rated People. When posting a job, there is just one form for the customer to fill out. Some could argue this will increase the number of jobs it will receive, however tradesmen may find that the quality of the leads may suffer. It does however charge slightly differently with the cost of leads for tradesmen priced based on the value of the job which is pretty handy especially if you are just starting out.
So which should you choose?
Well firstly I should highlight we are slightly biased here as we have a great relationship with Checkatrade who provide a discount to Trade Skills 4U customers. However for tradesmen it comes down to one key thing, how much business can they generate? We know Checkatrade has more of a South East bias, however a quick check on Google trends shows that searches for Checkatrade are way above all the others in terms of brand searches nationwide. This suggests that Checkatrade is doing something right in advertising to its customers which in turn will lead to more business for its tradesmen.
Data above is from Google trends for the past 12 months
Choosing the right one for you
Despite this it isn’t as simple as simply picking the most popular site. You will want to weigh up the pro’s and cons of whichever scheme you decide to register with based on your needs. If you are looking to advertise on one of these sites we recommend doing the following:
Search each providers website to see how many other tradesmen they have registered in your area and specific trade. This will help you find out how much competition you may come up against.
You may also want to do a Google search for a term like “electrician crawley” and see which trade recommendation sites rank best.
If you do join make sure your customer service and overall work is up to scratch. You need to ensure you are able to remain professional and courteous to even the most testing of customers.
You may find if you are just starting out as a business it’s a good idea to find your feet before registering so you have more experience under your belt before customers start posting reviews online about your work.
Whichever site you choose will almost certainly help your business grow. However make sure you maintain your excellent service once you do grow especially if you take on more staff.