Postscript 2022: I originally wrote this guide for tradespeople but have since updated it to include information for consumers as well.
This page forms part of our blog which contains a series of helpful guides for consumers and tradespeople.
If there’s one thing most tradespeople suck at, it’s promoting their skills and services online.
The vast majority of trade websites are uninspiring five-page throwbacks to the early days of the web.
You’ve probably seen many of these yourself; they usually contain a home page, a contact form, a few poor quality photos and a page listing all the services they offer.
Nearly every site looks the same, and it’s often impossible to differentiate one from the other.
They rarely create trust or generate much business.
Perhaps that’s why services like Myhammer, Rated People and Checkatrade have become so popular in recent years.
But how reliable are these services? Can homeowners trust them?
If you’re a tradesperson, how can you get the most from them?
Explore Our Insights Into Checkatrade and Rated People
I’m fortunate enough to have experienced both sides of Rated People and Checkatrade.
For 12 years I ran a small but profitable roofing business that at times advertised with both of them.
As a homeowner, I’ve also used both of those services to find local tradespeople.
Whether you’re a homeowner looking to find a trusted business or a tradesperson exploring new advertising opportunities, this guide is for you.
What You’ll Discover With Our Guide
On this page we’ll cover:
- The vetting process – is it any good?
- Can the ratings and reviews be trusted?
- The key differences between Rated People and Checkatrade for tradespeople and customers
- Which one I recommend – as a tradesperson and as a customer
- How tradespeople can get the most from these services
- Common mistakes tradespeople make and how to avoid them
The Vetting Process
I do not doubt that the initial vetting process used by Checkatrade is more robust than that of Rated People.
At the time of writing, Checkatrade conducts face-to-face interviews with each applicant and contact five nominated past customers who act as references. They also check ID, confirm the business address, review their public liability insurance and any qualifications.
Rated People checks the identity and financial situation of applicants by conducting a simple check with Experian. They claim to work with Action Fraud and Trustmark, but the relationship is vague.
Ratings and Reviews – Which Service is More Trustworthy?
While Checkatrade’s initial vetting takes longer and is more robust, their rating system is, in my opinion, open to abuse.
Anyone can leave a review on Checkatrade, past customers, some random person in the street and even friends or family members.
While Checkatrade claims to verify some reviews, this verification is usually done by email and less frequently by telephone.
Anyone with a phone and email address can leave a review.
This is a double-edged sword.
While friends and family can leave fake positive reviews, competitors can leave false negative ones. Also, anyone in the street can leave feedback. So if you’re a business owner, it’s important that your employees behave at all times, even away from the property they are working on.
Rated People is Very Different
Unlike Checkatrade, Rated People operate a closed rating system.
Only customers that have found the tradesperson via their website can leave reviews.
Friends, family members, competitors and random people in the street can’t leave reviews.
Here is what Natalie from Rated People wrote:
Hi Mike, We operate a closed-loop rating system where only homeowners who have hired a tradesperson through us are able to leave a rating for a tradesperson. To leave a rating, a homeowner has to log in to their free homeowner account (created as part of the job posting process) and select the job they’re rating from a list of jobs that they’ve previously posted. If you’d like to discuss further, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our Customer care team by heading to our Contact Us page: ratedpeople(dot)com/contact-us Thanks, Natalie
The Key Differences – For Homeowners
Checkatrade is an open website; you can browse through as many members as you like and contact as many as you wish. You’ll find traders that are busy and not actively seeking new work as well those that are quiet and are looking to take on new projects immediately.
Rated People is a closed system. You fill out a form with details of the work you want doing. Rated People will then put your job details out to tender, and up to three members who are actively seeking work will contact you. You can read their reviews and ratings before deciding who you want to get a price from.
You get more choice with Checkatrade, but you may find it takes longer to find a tradesperson as you have to sift through those that are not actively seeking work and also some that may not be prepared to undertake the specific project you want to be done.
Rated People offers less choice, only up to three tradespeople will contact you, however, as these three must pay Rated People for your details, you should find that they are keen to get the ball rolling and visit your property. Tradespeople won’t contact you if they aren’t interested in undertaking the project, so you’ll need to be accurate when filling out the form.
Both Checkatrade and Rated People are free for customers to use and you are under no obligation or contract to use one of their tradespeople. You can walk away at any point.
The Key Differences – For Tradespeople
Checkatrade’s initial vetting system takes longer and is more robust; they will check the references you provide. You also need liability insurance, and you’ll pay a yearly subscription fee to gain access to the best features on the site. You can’t switch off your advert on Checkatrade; it must stay live throughout your subscription, this is so past customers can leave a review at any time.
Rated People doesn’t charge a yearly subscription fee. You pay a monthly fee and then purchase job leads as and when you need work, i.e. when you have space in your diary. If you are busy, then don’t buy job leads, if you are quiet then buy the leads and browse the website or use their mobile app to look for jobs you wish to quote for in your area.
Which One Do I Recommend For Tradespeople?
Both services have their pros and cons.
Checkatrade works best if you go “all in”. By that, I mean you use their logo on your vehicle, letterheads and website. You’ll need to encourage all your customers to leave feedback, not just those who found you via their website. Because anyone can leave a review, your staff will need to be professional at all times, including when driving and in public. Checkatrade is an excellent alternative to other yearly advertising subscriptions such as Yellow Pages and other directories. You’ll need to get lots of reviews before you start noticing lots of business coming your way from Checkatrade though, traders with few reviews don’t get many enquiries.
Rated People is often used by tradespeople to source work to fill gaps in their diary on an “as needed” basis. The pay-as-you-go system gives the tradesperson lots of flexibility, and they can choose whether to display the Rated People logo on their vehicle and letterheads etc. or just use the site to source job leads. Rated People is a realistic alternative to other short-term or flexible advertising platforms such as Google Adwords.
For businesses that are looking for a long-term advertising solution that they’re prepared to commit to over several years should go with Checkatrade.
For those that need work to fill gaps in the diary on an “as needed” basis or those that just want to test the water with review based advertising, choose Rated People.
Neither system will work if you get negative reviews.
And For Homeowners?
I have used both of these services to source tradespeople, and I was satisfied with the workmanship from both.
Should I need a tradesperson in the future, I would first try Checkatrade though.
This is because I prefer an open system where I can browse as many reviews as I want.
That is just my personal preference, and I’ll admit, I do have a good nose for sniffing out fake reviews.
Common Mistakes I See Tradespeople Make Time and Time Again
Many tradespeople think that Checkatrade is a “pay and forget” advertising solution, like the old Yellow Pages.
Without dozens and dozens of positive reviews, you’ll get little business directly from Checkatrade, and if you plaster their logo all over your website and vehicle, you’ll just drive potential customers away from you and to a website that is promoting your competitors.
Why would a customer choose a business with five good reviews over one with 500 good reviews?
Why would a tradesperson with few reviews want to promote a website that lists thousands of competitors with more or better reviews?
With that in mind, here are my four top tips for getting the most out of Checkatrade:
- Get as many reviews as you can, and as quickly as possible, that means asking existing, past and all future customers to leave reviews, regardless of whether they found you on Checkatrade or not.
- The Checkatrade logo should not be larger than the company logo; this applies to clothing, vehicles, websites and letterheads etc. I am shocked at how many businesses break this golden rule. Imagine a tradesperson’s van with a company logo so small you can barely see it from a distance, but you can see a huge Checkatrade logo, the tradesperson is effectively promoting a site that lists and promotes competitors.
- On your company website, don’t link to the Checkatrade homepage, you are just driving visitors to a directory where they’ll see your competitors. It would be better to take a screenshot/image of your Checkatrade page and put it on your website, so your visitors stay on your site. Any links to Checkatrade should go directly to your business page there, not the homepage.
- People love numbers and statistics, so if you have a score of 99.9% based on 75 reviews, you should go ahead and put this on your website, blog or even in your email communications with customers.
Try Rated People or Checkatrade Today
To see how Rated People works, just click this link (it’s free for customers).
Customers and tradespeople can explore Checkatrade here.
Bark is similar to Rated People and is worth exploring. They can also source quotes for other projects such as photography, disco hire and catering.
Trustpilot is a rating and review service that is popular with e-commerce websites, that’s sites that sell items online. You can use Trustpilot if you are a traditional brick and mortar type business too. Customers can leave reviews, and your ratings can even appear on Google next to your website’s listing. They aren’t cheap, so are probably best suited to medium or large businesses.
Google Adwords is Google’s advertising platform. You create an advert, select your target area and choose the keywords that will trigger your advert. You only pay when someone clicks your ad which takes them to a dedicated page to your website. Adwords is a flexible advertising platform, you choose your daily budget, and you can pause your campaign at any time, there’s no minimum spend or contract. Unfortunately, it does take some IT knowledge to set up, and a basic understanding of IT is therefore required. For newbies, make sure you read a beginner’s guide to Adwords such as this.
Facebook Ads – don’t underestimate Facebook, it’s one of the most popular websites on the planet, and millions of people use it to discuss everyday life including hiring tradespeople. A well-targeted Facebook ad campaign can yield results similar to that of Google Adwords.
Myhammer is similar to Rated People, I don’t have any experience with this service, but I know it’s fairly popular, so it’s worth considering.
Which? is a trusted consumer service in the UK, they have a popular website and printed magazine. They are now offering vetting services to tradespeople and homeowners searching for tradespeople. The process involves a face to face assessment and other strict criteria such as a credit check and references check. The process is similar to that provided by Checkatrade.
Buy With Confidence is a great option that allows successful applicants to use the “Trading Standards Approved” logo and text. The entry criteria for tradespeople is strict, and you’ll need to pass a full business audit.
What Combination of Advertising Would I Choose?
It’s been a few years since I changed career and moved away from the roofing industry but if I were to set up a business again I would do the following five things:
- I would choose two services from either Checkatrade, Which?, Buy With Confidence or any other similar vetting service.
- To fill gaps in my diary, I would set up Google Adwords or Facebook ads and also create an account with Rated People or another similar service that offers flexibility.
- I would invest in a quality website that has been tested to ensure the landing pages convert visitors to customers.
- I would want a blog on my website where I can write weekly content such as news updates, case studies, customer reviews, before-and-after photos and also publish Youtube videos of my workmanship.
- Social sites like Twitter and Facebook are a great place to post content that I’ve already created on my blog, so I would create an account with each of them and post content once per week.
My goal would be to tick five boxes:
Long-term advertising that provides a vetting service so I can build trust.
Advertising that I can switch on/off whenever I want.
A website that goes above and beyond what my competitors have.
A blog that I can update myself, so I can reach people using search engines.
I would also try to create visually appealing content (such as before and after photos or videos), thus making it easy for people to share my content on social platforms.
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