I am a one person office and have been a member of Home Advisor (Formerly Service Magic) since 2009 and have tracked the returns up to the start of 2017 and it has provided almost 40% of my projects during that time. Many of these clients have become return clients and my signs on the construction fence have brought in more clients and I have not factored those into my 40%. It took me a year after starting my own office during the great economy of 2008 and after doing several of my neighbor's small projects, I decided that I needed another form of connecting with potential clients. While there are many forms of getting the word out, advertising (online advertising) was the one that seemed to be the most likely approach to cast the widest net for the fewest dollars. My original feeling was that spending money without having a definite return was a difficult mental hurdle. However, after I jumped in, it was a savior especially during those leaner years. They have provided a 9:1 return on the advertising costs over that time. I spend about $2500/year on lead generation and I can determine how many leads per month (lead budget) they will send to me. I can also turn off the leads for two weeks at a time and I can do that easily online and consecutively.
Note - per the other responses, yes, there are bogus leads - shoppers just looking for free information, potential clients who are not aware of actual construction costs or reasonable design fees, no response to a return phone call or e-mail, etc and they are frustrating. On many occasions, I have called Home Advisor and stated that the latest lead was not a valid lead (phone number doesn't work, an architect testing the system - yes - it has happened several times, etc.) and they have researched it and removed the charge or sent me a new replacement lead - not always but many times. There are also claims by some of the potential clients that several (more than anticipated) architects responded to their request and so one wonders how many architects were sent the lead. However, in the long run it has been well worth it.
The best way that I have found to at least get your foot in the door is to call the lead contact right back (within minutes - not hours) as soon as the lead comes through. Many times, the first one who calls gets the project. I also do not charge for an initial visit.
Right now, I have put my leads on hold as I am busy enough and do not wish to bring on employees just to bring in more work.
Bill Gregory, AIA
Arcelab Inc. Architects
7480 S. Osage Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90045
Cell - 310-507-5434
Fax - 310-910-0483
Web Site - www.arcelab.com
Can't say that I have. After hearing about clients' bad experiences with their contractors I wrote the site off.
John Dugger, AIA
J S Dugger, AIA & Associates
Member American Institute of Architects