Service Magic is a web based service platform that matches homeowners to qualified service professionals. The company was founded in 1999 and is primarily intended for home improvement projects and services such as carpentry, plumbing and other home repairs.
However, in recent years Service Magic has expanded into IT as well, and this, I believe is where they have problems.
The system is simple. Buyers put in requests for contract work and the requests are routed to service providers in their areas to perform the work. In simple terms, it is like most of the other platforms such as OnForce, ServiceLive, etc.
The difference is that with Service Magic, the requests are actual leads for the work. The leads are routed to a maximum of three providers, the providers contact the buyer directly and the buyer chooses who will perform the work. The contact information is not filtered or hidden. It is sent directly to the providers.
The buyer routes the lead at no cost to him or her. The provider pays a flat fee for receiving the lead. That fee is based on value within a category of services predetermined by Service Magic.
The upside to this system is that both buyer and provider are free agents on the platform. Once the lead is accepted and the work is performed, both are free to conduct future business together. In other words, unlike many other venues and platforms, Service Magic is a true, bona fide marketplace.
The downside is that it isn’t cheap. Every lead that is sent to the provider is billable, whether the lead pays out or not.
Now, on the surface, this seems like an open and fair deal. You win a few, you lose a few and it all works out in the end, right?
In principle, this is right, provided the company operates within and stands by a set of principles. However, any system can be manipulated or abused. Every transaction is based on a level of trust between the buyer and provider. Yet the party that most to be watched is not always the buyer or the providers. It is often the platform itself and the organization that runs it.
Yes, I was with Service Magic for a couple of years. Currently my status is suspended – at my request. Basically they are set up for general service contractors and offering IT services is clearly out of their league. I have had numerous issues and discussions with them to no avail. I have tried to explain that the IT service market is not like general houshold maintenance work and requires an understanding of the business to be able to offer their services to it at a fair price.
The advantage to using them is that it can be a better deal than the Yellow Pages if you are in a metropolitan area and are the only tech for their region. The leads are precisely that – leads. They don’t own the customer. You do. That was the main reason I went with them. If you want to build your customer base, it can be another source for leads.
However, it isn’t for everyone. The reason they were not listed in The Force Field IT Business Resource Directory before today is because I held off on publishing the listing. I did so on a promise to their rep that I would not publish anything about them – good or bad – until I had cooled off a bit from my last encounter with them.
I really like the overall concept but the execution is lacking. When I moved to Charlotte I temporarily suspended the account because they had been sending me leads and I was concerned they would continue to do so during the move. After the move they kept calling me to turn them back on and the pitch was that the new area I was in was hot. According to the rep they had 30 leads in the area and no one to send them to. Suspicious, I said okay on the condition that I would have a few free ones to cover some past issues. They agreed and – guess what – nearly a month with no leads. They finally sent me two, both of which were bogus. When I finally received one that was legit they wanted to bill me for it and I found out that the free leads were only good for thirty days, something which was never disclosed to me.
To add to the insult, one of the free leads was supposed to be a “refund” for a bad lead they sent me when I was still in Orlando.
I won’t go into the details, but to make a long story short, the rep was not correct about the “hot leads” and I called them on it. They offered to give me five free leads, which they later called and accused me of trying to “game” from them, which they initially offered me without my asking for them, and which I never actually got to use. They would just take money from my credit card and there was no way to stop it without actually cutting off the card. In the end they wanted to play the free leads game with me again at which point I told them where to go, cancelled my account (which was a very long call as the rep debated the issues with me) and I haven’t heard from them since.
(Incidentally, they owe me money, but I wrote it off as a loss because they don’t refund in cash, only in leads.)
They were initially charging me $8 for leads and then raised it to $9 with no notice. They did bill me once for an $11 lead because it involved wiring (Actually I had chosen the category “network” for advertising home and small office wireless networking but they lumped it into the electrical and low voltage wiring category because they didn’t have any sub-category for setting up wireless networking).
The company was set up for doing building and maintenance projects, not IT and they just didn’t know how to incorporate it into their platform. In my opinion, Service Magic is clueless when it comes to the IT industry and it shows.
The perfect platform would be a Service Magic lead generation approach with an OnForce platform and management. Service Magic is a marketplace in the true sense of the word. Unfortunately, based on my own experience, they seem to lack the integrity and trust that OnForce initially built into theirs.
If you want an example of a real marketplace , it is Service Magic. It doesn’t attempt to control or manipulate the marketplace, only provide a platform on which the client and provider can meet. Unfortunately, in my opinion, it isn’t the best one.