Make the pay-per-lead model work for you


February 28, 2020



I’ve got something important to tell you. It’s earth-shattering, mind-blowing, volcano-erupting, box-office smashing, Independence Day huge. And it’s true:

HomeAdvisor (HA) works for us.

Let me repeat that, because some of you hate HA, and have a curious look on your face. HA works for Schopen Pest Solutions.

What’s that? I’m only writing this to draw attention to my column? I’m cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs? I have no clue about how to market my business?

Well, the truth is that I understand what HA, Angie’s List, Nextdoor, Thumbtack and other pay-for-lead companies can do for my business. And I also understand the costs involved.

In my April 2019 column, I wrote about how search engines and search engine optimization (SEO) can help a small company grow. Today, I want to share how I make HA and similar pay-for-lead companies work for Schopen Pest Solutions.


HA and Angie’s List, which HA purchased in May 2017, make professionals pay for every lead sent their way, regardless of whether you call the client. At HA, you pay more for certain areas; you also can be charged more for “direct” leads. Direct leads are when a client has read your reviews and already has chosen to talk to you for the job.

Normally, you have to compete with several other companies for every lead that goes to you (and your competitors). You can choose how much you pay each month, and where you want to spend. The more you spend and the more ZIP codes you add, the more leads will flow to you.

For example, if you budget $1,000 per month, you might only get 10 percent of the potential leads. Depending on the market size, though, that still can be a significant number of clients. I spend $5,000 per month — $4,000 for general leads and $1,000 for direct leads (remember, you pay more for direct leads).

In the Chicago, Ill., market, Schopen Pest Solutions is getting about 60 percent of all potential leads funneled to us. During the summer, we average more than 20 leads per day. During the winter, we average about eight to 10 per day. We continue to receive leads until we hit $5,000, though that very rarely happens.

What’s nice about HA in particular is that I get an automated phone call, text message and email within seconds of the potential client filling out an HA questionnaire. If my competitors are asleep at the wheel, we probably will get in touch with the lead first. All of my office staff understands the importance of calling the potential clients within moments of the text first coming through.

If we don’t connect immediately with the client, we will text them via an HA automated response. People sometimes respond better to text messages than to phone calls.

After the text, we send them an email. If we don’t hear back from the client, we will call them again before the end of the day. If we make contact and quote them a price, but they are non-committal, we will call them again 48 hours later.


Here are our totals for November. Keep in mind, this is the beginning of our slow season:

  • 159 leads (eight leads per day). Cost = $4,764.65
  • 53 sold upon initial contact. Sales = $8,730
  • Sales rate = 33.33%
  • 24% of the callers went with another company
  • Most of the 53 sold clients had additional visits with us during November. Total Sales from HomeAdvisor for November = $14,485

Our goal is to turn our follow-up visits into quarterly accounts. We have about a 40 percent success rate, so our projected revenue from November HA leads, as I write this in mid-December, will be more than $20,000.


Here are some pointers I have from working with HA and other pay-per-lead companies:

  • Create a profile on their websites, and ask for reviews. My technicians and office staff are taught to always ask for reviews. Clients love to see 5-star reviews.
  • Turn off your leads when your office is closed. One of the benefits of HA is that vendors can “pause” leads. I turn them off every weekend.
  • If your leads are “off,” do not accept “job opportunities.” You’ll pay 50 percent more! Job opportunities are leads outside of your coverage area, and/or leads being funneled to your competitors while you have your leads paused. You can still “accept” these leads, but HA charges a premium for the privilege.
  • If you get a bad lead — a wrong phone number, category, etc. — fight for a reimbursement. Companies like HA will reimburse for bad leads. They don’t always agree with you, though, so sometimes you need to make a big stink.

I’m not writing this as an advocate for HA, and I might not use them forever. For now, though, their leads work for me. If you are a start-up business and you are looking for a quick shot in the arm, using a pay-per-lead company could be a short-term fix.

Schopen is owner and founder of Schopen Pest Solutions, McHenry, Ill. You can email him at or reach him via Twitter: @schopenpestInstagram: @peteschopen; or Facebook: Schopen Pest Solutions, Inc.


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