I was recently invited to review a site specializing in providing contractors services ranging from marketing to actual accounting. It seemed intriguing, so I checked it out. In the process I came away fairly impressed with the dimensions of their focus as well as their sincerity, believe it or not. It’s not often websites such as this answer your questions in such honest and straightforward ways about not only their origins but their expectations. After joining for free and playing around inside just a bit, I came away with some simple questions I could not really answer on my own. So I picked up the phone and called their main guy, Jude, in Cincinnati. I mean, why wait? His number was listed! 😉
I got an earful of excellent stuff. It made their approach so much clearer and it made sense. Their primary interest – and an important one for guys like me – is in a sort of banking function. My company in Reno did around $450K a year in total volume. Naturally, I did as much as I could of this in cash or check – the “old fashioned way”. However, let me say now, had I been able to process credit cards, I would have done more business. I always turned down those opportunities – even neglecting to offer estimates if they insisted, as a few did, that credit card payments were only what they would use to employ us.
Credit Card Processing
I fully understand the reasoning behind paying by credit card. More and more I see people wanting it, too. They get their “miles” from it, get impressive credit ratings – more reasons than we need to share here. But I honestly had no facility through which to process them and, really, no desire to because I had a slew of work and this became simply a crowd of potential clients I plain ruled out.
ContractSpot offers processing services – for which they take a small slice – and thence refers the money to the bank of the contractor’s choosing. I had an example transaction processed which worked splendidly. The amount taken out is understood from the get-go – there is no mystery, nor is it that much. In the end, it’s the same processing as if one did have the same organization as those who develop the facilities on their own. It is a most interesting and pain-free element and, I think, a timely one, suitable for companies and individuals who prior to this have been loathe to take on this increasingly common form of payment. It therefore opens doors.
Upon joining, a contractor lists his areas of specialty. This is in order to lure potential clients who look for help via ContractSpot to contact them via the Internet and set up meetings and potential contracts. An example: I listed a few categories of experience and, the next morning, I woke up to an email mentioning someone had posted a project in ContractSpot. I logged in and found a local guy who had acreage and who wanted it leveled. What was interesting is that, under the potential states of readiness on that end, the guy said he was “just checking prices at this time.” In other words, it was a project he was considering. I liked that, myself. Naturally, I emailed him back and we will be meeting face to face in a week, at his property.
Inasmuch as the response time is swift, as well as the notification of posted projects, arrangements can be made in real time rather rapidly. It does not require oodles of phone calls for a potential client and he can check the CV of any potential contractor over the Internet as well in all the various ways that exist for that purpose. To my mind, it is yet another benefit of Internet speed and commercial possibility.
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What happens over time is a record of transactions commences, including virtually everything mailed out or manually recorded over the time spent dealing here. Invoices are made and archived, leads, quotes, all messages and communications are a matter of record and serve as a virtual accounting service, including the recording of communications in general.
You can even make your own website, complete with personal photos from your own cache, tailored to the marketing niche you might have in mind. Endless photos are allowed to aid in supplying ideas and guidelines to potential clients. Not bad at all, in my opinion and, yes, I have signed up for this free service.
What They Want Out Of It
In the end, they are patient. Jude’s honest statement deals with the fact that they would make any money from the project via the processing of the credit card payments. Naturally, contracts can still be made from the clients garnered through here via checks, cash or services like barter, just like anywhere else. They just believe they have a niche they can develop which could not only aid businesses through the various sensible aspects of business they offer here, but which could also make them some money down the road. This is not a get-rich-quick operation, which made it more believable, somehow. I am not unaware of Internet scams, having been around now a bit. I am also aware of the wild potential as yet untapped at the same time for enterprising and smart people. So far, this fall under the latter for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which was Jude’s sincerity.
He hastened to add that this is a relatively new concept and that it will evolve over time. He asked me for comments or suggestions and wants to keep a line of communication to find out if there are ways to improve things even more. I liked that as well.
I like it. Hey -It’s free!
It has the potential to not only offer a newer and very relevant market but also to actually generate a possible community. Obviously, anyone pleased with a contractor gained through here would try again. The record-keeping aspect of things would be new and different to a bad businessman like myself, I admit freely. With the Internet not only developing but growing rapidly, transactions formerly held over the phone can be thoughtfully short-circuited, pondered at leisure and can allow a more thoughtful response and approach. Estimates can be arranged, references asked for and researched, even the money can be transferred, all in one spot.
At the worst, this is a result of concentrated effort by strict professionals who believe they detect a market for those services they specialize in – banking, accounting and marketing. I am actually somewhat impressed, frankly.
I am recommending it under the proviso that this is my blog and I can deal with disappointment loudly enough to reflect it, and why. But in talking with them, I also developed a really good feel for something I would not have paid attention to had they not contacted me and literally asked me what I thought. I happen to trust them and I do hope it works, not only for me but for purposes of strict commerce. It seems like a novel and interesting new wrinkle to me.
I hope to see this get off the ground. Free web-based services and directories are big, and this one seems to have an interesting niche. The more contractors sign up, the more the consumer will find it a useful site. I like the integrated portfolio feature so people researching a project don’t always have to click out to a web page to see examples of someone’s work.
Thanks for the comment, James. I agree – it is an interesting approach and, at least to me, unique. The fact that the folks there are good people did not hurt my analysis, I admit freely. But there is something more than refreshing about hearing from someone with a true sense of hope and some definite honesty regarding his own projects. I will be the first to admit I am as challenged a businessman as there is – many tradespeople like me share this and i even understand it. Signing up here is an upgrade, lol.