A widely held assumption when the World Wide Web was first colonised by commercial interests was that disintermediation would occur and businesses would be able to reach potential customers or clients directly.
That may have happened to some degree, but we also saw the emergence of new breeds of intermediaries including comparison services (for example, health insurance) and daily deals and group buying operations (like getting a bargain dress or manicure).
And there are also the referral services.
And why not? Most people agree that it is sensible to get multiple quotes before engaging a tradie to rewire your house or build a new fence. But finding someone that does that particular type of work in your area can be a tedious process.
It is far simpler to use a service that will match your request with appropriate businesses and have them send you quotes.
An example we've recently come across is Oneflare
, which aims to match prospective customers with 'quality local businesses'.
In addition to trades such as electricians, landscapers and roofers, Oneflare also lists accountants, interior designers, cleaners, computer repairers, photographers, and more.
The service is free to customers, who can submit details of their job and receive up to five quotes. The providers' customer reviews and ratings can be considered along with the price, and some providers are covered by Oneflare's guarantee to pay up to $500 towards the rectification of negligent work or accidental damage
Businesses - the company says 35,000 of them can be reached through its service - have a choice of paying by the lead or by the month. Lead-based pricing starts at $6, and goes up in $2 steps that roughly align to $500 increments in the price of the job.
Three levels of monthly subscriptions are offered: $49 (five quotes and up to 10 leads), $99 (15 quotes and all relevant leads), and $159 (30 quotes, all relevant leads, and guaranteed lead access).
So do the sums and decide whether this is an economical form of lead generation for your business.