Harvard Business Review Says “Beware the Plumbing Firm That Advertises a Lot”

Interesting news on “The Daily Stat” blog from Harvard Business Review:

“Residential plumbing firms that advertised on Google searches tended to be lower-quality companies, according to a study in Illinois by Ryan C. McDevitt of Duke University. Specifically, the firms that advertised on Google received, on average, more than 3 times as many Better Business Bureau complaints per employee as companies that didn’t advertise. Because of an inability to establish lucrative relationships with long-term clients, low-quality firms have a greater incentive to rely on Internet search engines and other forms of advertising to aim at infrequent customers who aren’t willing to devote time to seeking out good companies, McDevitt suggests.”

The post, written by HBR editor Andrew O’Connell, should not be construed as implying that all advertising is bad. Many reputable plumbers and other home contractors advertise extensively in their markets, and those that are Accredited Businesses proudly display the BBB seal in their ads.

But advertising on search engines like Google can be very inexpensive, depending on how a business configures their AdWords campaign. A substandard business, fly-by-night operator or scam artist can quickly reach desperate homeowners who may be dealing with a plumbing emergency and searching for the fastest response. In that vulnerable moment, checking out the reliability of a firm may not be foremost on the homeowner’s mind.

Do you have a good plumber… and a good electrician, good heating and cooling contractor, good tree service? Think of the contractors you might need in an emergency and identify companies that you would feel comfortable calling in a pinch. Do your research now… starting with bbb.org, of course!

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About Katherine Hutt

Katherine R. Hutt, Director of Communications and Media Relations with the Council of Better Business Bureaus, is an award-winning communicator who has been helping nonprofit organizations tell their stories for the past 25 years. She was a CBBB consultant on numerous projects for more than a decade before joining the staff in 2011.