HelpHive Launches “Cost per Job” Model

Picture 12Seattle-based home services directory site HelpHive is launching a promotional program, called “referral pro.” In addition, the company announced a free video offering in partnership with TurnHere. According to the release out earlier today:

Through this partnership, HelpHive is able to offer businesses that have claimed their HelpHive business page FREE, custom-produced video profiles in order to engage potential customers and generate new business on the Internet.  In research conducted by TurnHere and its partners, online video was shown to increase call volume by 16-20%.  The video package includes a 60-second TurnHere-produced video, and access to TurnHere’s strong network of independent, professional filmmakers.

The referral pro service entitles the business to premium positioning in a number of places on the site as a “featured business.” Currently HelpHive is only in Seattle and wisely trying to “get one market right” before expanding.

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All the calls or referrals coming through the site are tracked. The novel element in the referral pro program is that it’s billed not on a PPC, PPCall or even pay-per-booking basis, but on a completed pay-per-job basis. HelpHive will take a commission on the value of the completed job. This is a fairly radical change in the model, although it’s not totally unique in the market — affiliates take a percentage of the sale price on goods often.

The businesses themselves identify whether a call or lead is “qualified.” If not, there’s no cost to them. A business receiving a “qualified referral” (as determined by them) has roughly a week to act or lose the referral to another. If the referral is marked as qualified but the business doesn’t get the job for whatever reason, there’s a small fixed fee ($5). And as mentioned, if they complete the job, HelpHive will bill the SMB a percentage (5%) of the value of the overall  price.

I spoke with HelpHive co-founder Karim Meghji at some length the other day about how they’ll monitor and protect against contractors trying to undervalue projects to minimize the commission and related issues. Meghji has thought through most of these issues. He basically said that they’ll rely on people to be honest but that they’ll have systems in place to monitor activity.

I’ve long thought that the local services market might move toward something like this for selected verticals. We’ll see if HelpHive has success and whether it can roll out more broadly with the model. I think, however, there’s no question about SMB interest and acceptance.

4 Responses to “HelpHive Launches “Cost per Job” Model”

  1. Evan Conklin Says:

    Helphive.com is some new kind of scam website

    It exploits businesses and consumers seeking services.

    All businesses listed on this supposed consumer directory have a fake phone number substituted for the company’s real phone number. This fake phone number belongs to the owners of Helphive,com . These local business listings are not placed there by the business but have been harvested from other sources. Helphive.com apparently thinks that it is OK to use any company’s name and substitute the real contact information (the company phone number) with another so that they can harvest the incoming information and make money from it in various ways. If it is your misfortune to own a business listed on this site your customer has been hijacked. Helphive claims that they are giving the company listed a “free” ad or listing. Well, it is not a real benefit to any company if they are collecting data and hiding your real phone number from the public. They have no right to use your company name in conjunction with a phone number that isn’t yours without your permission.

    Businesses Beware! Think about it. Do you really want anybody out there to misdirect your calls to themselves first (for any reason), harvest any information they can get from it, and then (theoretically) forward the call to you? Who needs some unknown greedy unethical corporate jerks screening and recording information regarding your incoming phone calls from your customers? They claim they are forwarding the calls to the business. Are they really. So what if they are. They didn’t forward mine. I called the supposed phone number they attached to my business listing and it did not ring my phone. It dropped me into a programmed data collection program requesting to know what kind of service I was looking for, when I wanted the service performed etc. The program told me that my company was unavailable and then proceeded to get buying information from me. For what purpose? To sell it to somebody of course. The jerks just stole my customer using my name.

    The scenario I just described is outright fraud. It is a theft of my reputation, my name and my customer. It is a fraud upon the consumer who thinks they contacted my office looking for a service. They were lied to as we were open and our phones were functional. They had no way to know that the voice machine telling them that we were unavailable wasn’t us telling them that.

    Even if they say that they are forwarding the call to your business, how do you know? Even if they do it, as they say for “free”, how about next year? They call you up on your real phone number and try to sell you an “upgrade” to improve your position in their listings or whatever. The phone is your lifeline between your company and the public. Helphive is attempting to wedge themselves between the customer and the services you provide. Do we really need a for-profit company screening our incoming calls, harvesting our customer information and then doing as they wish with the customer all the while hiding our phone number from them?

    What happens when other online directories harvest information from their site? The possibility exists that that phony number that everybody thinks is your phone number gets replicated in other websites and directories. When Google searches it matches your company name up with the phony contact number and then what? How is anybody going to undo that damage to your company when your phone stops ringing because everybody is calling a phony phone number that has your business name attached to it?

    We need a class action lawsuit now to recover damages that we can’t even estimate. If it isn’t illegal to place ads or listings to the public using our company’s name without permission and faking our phone numbers, we need a law now. This behavior is damaging to all businesses listed on their site. In my opinion the activity of Helphive.com is outright criminal in intent. If we can’t call the cops then we file a civil suit.

    Contact Helphive.com and demand that they stop using your company name and attaching a phony telephone number while hiding your real telephone number.

    File complaints with the Attorney General, the BBB, and anybody else you can think of.

    File a civil suit to stop them from using your good company’s name for their profit without your permission.

    Join a class action suit if you can find one.

  2. HelpHive Controversy: One Pissed Plumber « Screenwerk Says:

    […] Sterling Seattle plumber Evan Conklin is very angry at HelpHive. He made his feelings plain in a comment on one of my posts about the company. Now the Seattle blog TechFlash posts that part of Conklin’s anger is about […]

  3. Karim Meghji Says:

    HelpHive.com is NOT a scam website as Evan Conklin suggests NOR do we exploit business and consumers seeking services.

    I’ll avoid using or responding to defamatory and slanderous accusations, and focus on the conveniently missing facts from Evan Conklin’s comments:

    1) “They call you up on your real phone number and try to sell you an “upgrade” to improve your position in their listings or whatever”

    Yes, we did call Evan Conklin… as a followup to questions Evan Conklin POSTED via our customer service system about how the contact information on HelpHive works. It was not nor was it intended to be a sales call.

    2) “All businesses listed on this supposed consumer directory have a fake phone number substituted for the company’s real phone number. This fake phone number belongs to the owners of Helphive.com.”

    Yes, we do have a HelpHive phone number on each business listing. We do this so we can provide a low risk, low cost, performance based model to businesses interested in generating referrals and business from HelpHive. Our business approach is “we get paid when the business is getting paid”. In order to do this, we employ a proxy phone number to track and report to businesses referrals that originated from HelpHive and HelpHive customers. This is not like other approaches where evaluating the return on investment can be challenging at best:

    – paying a flat, monthly advertising fee to various phonebooks, online directories or other sites where businesses pay regardless of whether they get referrals or jobs
    – paying a per lead fee to various offline or online services where businesses pay regardless of the quality of the lead or whether the lead resulted in a job

    How a business listing, including contact information, works on HelpHive:

    – every business receives a free customizable listing page ; once a business claims their page, a business can provide information about their services, specialties and post work portfolio as well as request customers to post reviews of their work
    – the ways a customer can contact a business includes the HelpHive phone number as well as a HelpHive.com text-based messaging system. The phone number directs the phone call to the business’s phone number when in trial mode (all businesses when they are first listed) or businesses who have chosen to signup for the one of our referral plans
    – a business that has claimed their page can opt to turn off the HelpHive contact information if they so choose; also a business that has yet to claim their page can request that we turn off their contact information (which we did in the case of Evan Conklin)

    3) “They had no way to know that the voice machine telling them that we were unavailable wasn’t us telling them that.”

    When a customer calls a business via HelpHive, the first thing they hear is a “welcome to HelpHive” and then a request to enter the HelpHive extension of the business they are trying to reach.

    4) “They claim they are forwarding the calls to the business. Are they really. So what if they are. They didn’t forward mine. I called the supposed phone number they attached to my business listing and it did not ring my phone. It dropped me into a programmed data collection program requesting to know what kind of service I was looking for, when I wanted the service performed etc. The program told me that my company was unavailable and then proceeded to get buying information from me. For what purpose? To sell it to somebody of course.”

    In Evan Conklin’s case, the HelpHive phone system encountered their automated phone answering attendant when trying to direct the call to the business; our system treated the automated attendant as an answering machine and as such went into voice message mode. We are resolving the particular issue posed by this case of an automated answering attendant – we expect to have a fix for this on our site this week. All of this was explained to Evan Conklin – and conveniently left out of his comment. Additionally, we DO NOT have a “programmed data collection program” which we sell. This information is collected by our phone system in voice message mode (i.e. when a business doesn’t answer a call originating from HelpHive) for the exclusive and sole purpose of the business being contacted.

    5) “Do we really need a for-profit company screening our incoming calls, harvesting our customer information and then doing as they wish with the customer all the while hiding our phone number from them?”

    We do NOT screen incoming calls as part of any normal operating process – we do NOT harvest information from a customer for any purpose other than providing that information to the business the customer attempted to contact.

    6) On a related note, as part of our normal operating process we review all reviews of businesses posted on HelpHive.com to ensure genuineness and accuracy and to prevent false or shill reviews being posted by businesses themselves (which is in fact a violation of HelpHive.com Terms of Service agreed to by users who post reviews). In going through our normal procedure we found 2 reviews posted on Evan Conklin’s respective businesses dated October 30th by an account setup on HelpHive that very same day. The email address associated with the account that posted the reviews (seattleonly.com) is owned by Evan Conklin. Draw your own conclusion. We have since removed these questionable reviews to protect the integrity of the HelpHive community.

  4. Evan Conklin Says:

    Consider this:
    I contacted over 50 businesses listed on Helphive.com “directory” and asked them to take a look at their listing there that included a proxy phone number attached to their “free ad”. Every one of these business owners reacted as I did and stated that they would immediately take action to get removed from the helphive.com site. I have no doubt that this is a rapidly growing into a major class action lawsuit with thousands of potential claimants as long as helphive has it’s head in the sand.
    If this so-called service is so potentially beneficial to us as service providers why are we so pissed off?
    Signed – Just another dumb plumber that doesn’t know a good thing when he sees one (apparently).

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