If you search for “Amazon Home Services review” there’s not a whole lot that pops up. It’s a relatively new program and outside of a few niche businesses (PC repair, tv installers) they just don’t seem to be getting a lot of traction. Yet. Don’t dismiss them to soon, though, because Amazon has some serious bucks to spend if and when they decide to really go for it.
This is a first-hand Amazon Home Services review
Even after jumping into this amazing sales and online marketing business for landscape contractors, I kept my little design firm sort of active. We do a handful of landscape design projects a year, and Tony and I can use it as a sort of “marketing laboratory.” In that spirit, I signed up for Amazon Home Services about a year ago. How would I describe it so far?
How Amazon Home Services works
I won’t get into the details of signing up, because it’s pretty basic if you’ve ever signed up for an online lead platform. From what other contractors have said they look pretty hard at your online reviews with Yelp, Google, etc so it’s a good incentive to keep that house in order. There’s an application, a background check, and eventually a congratulations email. It’s when the leads start coming in that it falls apart.
I’m set up for Amazon Home Services landscape design consultations (a custom category), so when someone wants that service I get an email:
Click on the link and it takes me to my dashboard, and I see their more detailed request. It gives me a zip code, their timeline, a brief description, and the prospect can also provide photos of the site. I then have a few options for how I respond:
- I can dismiss the request and tell Amazon Home Services why (too busy, wrong area, not work I do). I’m not altogether sure what they do with this info because there seems to be no filter for the leads I do get, but… more on that later.
- I can give a fixed price quote to do the work.
- I can give a range.
- I can tell them a site visit is needed.
- I can ask questions.
That’s it. Now, in my sales process I insist on a phone consultation before scheduling an on-site meeting. You can judge really easily how serious someone is in a three minute call, versus emailing back and forth. Here’s the first reason that my Amazon Home Services review is a little harsh: there is no pre-visit discussion option.
Amazon is very explicit that you can only contact your leads through their platform. If you try to put in your phone number or your actual email, the system automatically strips that out of the message. As a result your options are to give a price on a job you haven’t seen in person, or schlepp out to the site with no way of knowing if the lead is even remotely qualified. Because you and I know that the average online shopper homeowner isn’t going to be up for a detailed back and forth messaging you.
I voiced this concern to the customer service team at AHS and they said “well just tell them a site visit is needed.” When I explained that that’s likely a huge waste of time, they told me “you can charge for the visit, you just put that in the field.” Riiiiight. Because charges for the first visit are always so well received, especially in the bargain tier of leads? And it’s hard to sell someone on your value for a paid consultation when this is all they see if they click your profile:
So… no photos, no description of your company, no link to your site. Well shoot, why wouldn’t someone just want to hand me $125 for an initial visit? The thing is, this would be an easy problem for Amazon to fix, at least for me. “Landscape design consultation” is pretty open ended, and most people seem to click this whether they want a landscape master plan or they just want three hostas moved and their townhouse’s beds weeded. So I asked the customer service rep if I could create a packaged product, like a site visit + a basic sketch for $300. “Uh, we hope to have that functionality but it won’t be this year.” So out of all the leads I’ve received, two were for what I actually do. Which leads me to:
Lead tracking SUCKS in Amazon Home Services
I use a CRM for my business. When a lead comes in I log customer name, address, contact info, lead source, etc so I can see what’s working and what’s not. As you’re probably realizing through this Amazon Home Services review, they don’t give you enough info to make it worth plugging the data into a CRM. No biggie, I figured, I can at least track that through my dashboard.
If you don’t act on a lead, if you dismiss a lead, or if you make an offer and nothing comes of it, that lead vanishes once the expiration date hits. Poof! Gone. So if you want to track what kinds of leads you’re getting, or you want to see what percentage close, you need to open up a spreadsheet because Amazon Home Services doesn’t want you to have that data in their app.
Holy money for nothing, Batman – the fees!
No Amazon Home Services review would be complete without a discussion of their fee structure. Because boy, do they make sure they get paid. Luckily they provide a pretty clear graphic that lays out their fees.
A pre-packaged service would be something like the site visit + sketch for a fixed price that I mentioned above. In exchange for connecting you with the lead, Amazon Home Services takes 20% of your total invoice. Custom services are if someone contacts you for plantings, and you’re creating a unique design and invoice. That’s a 15% fee. Recurring services are typically maintenance items. If you booked a lawn care client through Amazon Home Services, they’ll take 10% off the top every. Single. Visit. That’s madness.
Naturally, Amazon Home Services sees what we do as a commodity and the only differentiating factor is price. They’ll even send you an email as the bid phase is closing to tell you that if you reduce your price YOU could be the winning bid!
The bottom line
I think it’s important to remember that Amazon is a technology company that wants to broker home improvement services. They’re not a home improvement company. I point this out because it’s clear that they don’t understand how the sales process works, they don’t understand that you can’t just sell more hours for less money and magically survive, and they really don’t care to understand anything like that. What they do understand is that whether you cover your costs or not, Amazon Home Services has the potential to be hugely profitable – for Amazon.
Where do we go from here?
I’ll wrap up this Amazon Home Services review with a positive spin to things. AHS illustrates that yes, people are looking for service providers online. It also shows that people want to have a way of knowing if they can trust their landscape contractor. The great news is that you can be found online and show how great your company is without Amazon Home Services.
We offer website design and SEO (search engine optimization) for landscape business owners just like you, helping you get found by clients located where YOU want to do business. I love writing website copy and I can help you showcase everything that’s great about your company, and Tony can help you get set up with online payment platforms and other tools to help your customers give you their money. Contact us today and we’ll help you grow your business, all without handing over a huge chunk of revenue to Amazon.