Checkatrade members are “checking out” – WHY?

by Melanie Tinson, managing director, Discover Magazines, Nov 2018

As you can imagine, we speak to Discover advertisers regularly as well as potential customers especially in the trades; plumbers, builders, electricians, tree surgeons etc.  We’ve had a spike in requests to remove their Checkatrade logo from their adverts so I’ve done a bit of research and thought I’d share my findings!

Checkatrade’s change of ownership, products and prices has clearly not been well received by some of its long-standing customers.

In November 2017 Richard Harpin, Homeserve CEO .. had bold new plans to turn Homeserve into a global home repairs powerhouse. Not content with insurance cover, Harpin bought Britain’s largest boiler installer, Help-Link. More significantly, Homeserve has acquired Checkatrade. whose customers have been charged a flat rate to be on the platform, but Harpin intends to change the fee structure to reflect revenues generated.  Source : The Mail on Sunday, Nov 2017 (edited)

So What Does this Mean for Checkatrade customers?

Here are some of the concerns I’ve picked up on from customers and my own view on the changes

  • “Last year I paid £800 …. now it’s gone up to £1400 a year.” The fee structure has changed apparently.  It appears that the rate has increased in selected categories based on an algorithm monitoring user searches on Checkatrade. So, in this case of garage doors, it’s clearly popular and so the rate has gone up.
  • “They’re charging me more if I don’t take up their managed number”.  A managed number is a telephone number that is promoted on the Checkatrade site and I assume diverts to the company’s own number or mobile. The advantage, says the sales person I spoke to Checkatrade, is a clever programme can identified a “sales call” ie. a newspaper trying to sell to you, and blocks certain numbers so you only receive genuine calls from potential customers.  Seems a good benefit (not for people like me …lol!) but there are benefits to Checkatrade itself worth being aware of:
    • The volume of calls is known to Checkatrade so they can use that data to vary your rate year on year… will it go down if calls reduce?  Hmmmm .. it will help them identify the high response rate categories.
    • If you do a good job in promoting your membership by advertising yourself and your entry receives more calls than the others listed, will that influence the price you pay next year?  Seems to me you could be penalised for managing your marketing properly!
    • If you cancel your membership, what happens to that number? If it’s included in an old directory (that you’ve paid for) and a potential customer calls the number what happens to those calls?  Should Homeserve retain that number for themselves then those calls meant for you, go to them.  Worth asking them.
  • “It’s all about the data – it’s worth a fortune and valuable to a company like Homeserve.” The concern behind this comment from an advertiser I spoke to is this, and, I emphasise,  hypothetical.  Once a customer review is submitted online it’s not rocket science to market to that person online using Cookies (a small packet of data that identifies your computer).  So, visitors to Checkatrade’s site could start to see adverts for Homeserve’s services pop up in their future internet usage.  (Checkatrade owns the data of 1,000s of individuals via reviews, either online or by the cards submitted. These individuals, member’s customers, could be marketed the services of Homeserve, effectively aiming to “poach” them.

What Do We Recommend ?

When Checkatrade launched I was impressed – it’s a good idea and it did well (even though it is a competitor of sorts to Discover if a business chooses membership over advertising in Discover). 

However as membership has grown rapidly, we’ve noticed an increase in our Discover advertisers pulling out of Checkatrade; perhaps too many competitors, more price focussed leads. However, it’s likely that your Checkatrade entry will work better if you promote yourself elsewhere simultaneously such as local advertising, radio, leafleting etc.

Why? Visitors to Checkatrade are faced with a long list of potential suppliers and it’s instinctive that they choose a name they recognise, and one close to home (as important as the score rating).  We had an advertiser, a plumber, who was wowed by the response from Checkatrade so to save money pulled his Discover advertising. The result was a drop in Checkatrade leads so he restarted and they went up.  To reaffirm his decision, he knew when a magazine had just come out as he saw a spike in his Checkatrade leads. So, if you are a member of Checkatrade or considering it, then I’d recommend you combining it with other forms of local promotion.  In this case 2 + 2  = 5 !

Whether you choose to join Checkatrade or cancel your membership

What do you get by being part of the Discover Magazines?

  • Your business being printed & delivered into up to 170,000 homes across the Solent
  • Access the most rural parts of Hampshire… 72,000 are delivered by Royal Mail
  • Large, medium or small…? we have the sizes available to suit any budget – starting from just £49 + vat per month! (although that might not be our best advice!)
  • Set prices. We set a price that’s what you pay – no more gradually increasing bills for click throughs.
  • Be part of a group of advertisers that continually receive enquiries every month since 2005!
  • Bespoke advertising campaign building (if required)
  • Free designed, copy written adverts on our ongoing rate campaigns
  • Advice! Being part of Discover Magazines you have access to a group of experienced marketeers who genuinely care about your business

“Thanks for 15 years of the best advertising results” Andy, Gair Gas

“Thanks for your invaluable advice.” J Birch, Dovetail Framing

“Thanks for such reliable delivery of our leaflets.” Vin, Perfect Windows

If you are questioning your Checkatrade membership contact us before you check out.