Lead Prices

Hey all,

I have been with Thumbtack for years and have even held Top Pro Badge status. Are there any other Pros out there that are shocked by the huge hike in lead prices? I used to pay $9.50 per lead for a service that I am charging $60 for. This was a roughly 16% commission for Thumbtack per lead that contacted me. Now the leads are costing $30+ dollars a piece EVEN if the client does not purchase a service. I only charge $60 for my services. Am I supposed to hike my charges up to $90 just to make up for what the leads are costing me on Thumbtack? What if then the customer still does not purchase? I am still charged that amount x clients. How am I supposed to offhand this new charge and still remain competitive in pricing? This is ridiculous. I raised my prices to $65 but if this keeps up, I do not think that I can afford to keep marketing through Thumbtack.

Comments

  • @Brian218 I agree with you that the lead prices have been getting higher. I know it doesn't seem like it's worth the price you pay up front. I remember when we used to have to bid against 10 other people . It was really tough back then. Everything has gone up alot in the past couple years including my prices.

    My bread-and-butter is customer retention. We don't have to pay for the customers that call us directly in the future. Keep building that organic customer base .

  • Direct Leeds are a big advantage for me but how are we supposed to be charged if the hires a different pro before the first pro never makes contact

  • DustiO
    DustiO Administrator Posts: 434

    @Plumbernick417 Thank you for your thoughtful response above! @David_Carroll not sure if this will help, but have you ever used the saved replies option in your app? This allows you to draft responses ahead of time so that you can quickly answer a customer even if you're on the job. I can't remember the exact statistic, but pros who answer customers within the first 5 minutes are substantially more likely to be hired. If that doesn't work, then I would echo what Plumbernick147 said and really work on customer retention/repeat business, because those types of clients are gold! (I was a business owner for 12 years before joining Thumbtack and that was definitely my bread and butter as well).

    Here's another helpful article with tips for responding to customers. Hope these help!

  • Unfortunately, I have not seen a correlation between the size (volume) of a project and the prices for direct leads. My average project is about $50 while the price for a lead is about $18+. More, whatever budget I allow to spend on a weekly basis, no doubt that all of it is spent. If I am correct, such policies are a real brake to any such small business development as that of mine.

  • It's been getting better on my end with that now my problem is getting the client to pay after the job is finished

  • My biggest problems are very high prices for leads while there is no guaranty that a customer is retained. There are many issues related to quality of leads. For example, in many cases a prospect customer is unable to shape his/her needs precisely. Therefore, I have to pay for a lead which is not a lead at all because the client’s needs differ quite substantially from what I have advertised and supported (to say the least). I have addressed this issue a zillion of times. No changes have been made so far…

  • Here are some real numbers. So far in January I've had 7 direct leads. Cost $228.62. I booked one that was for $375. So my profit is $146.38. The job is 2 hours long so I'm working for $73.19 an hour. My hourly rate is $150. Of these 7 leads - 27 Pros were contacted by the customer. Thumbtacks profit was $907.64 from these 7 leads. That's just the first two weeks of the year - by year's end I will show a value to this site - but these are real numbers that those new to TT are facing. Don't get me wrong - these numbers are shocking to me - I've been with TT for 7 years and used to pay $8-$15 a lead. A lead I would respond to only if it matched my needs. As of today I have paused my business. It is not a value this month. And these are just my numbers. I feel TT would want to find ways to keep Pros on line all the time.

    Considering Changes to Pricing: When a customer reaches out directly and the fee is $50 and the customer doesn't respond back to any messaging, or has a phone number that doesn't allow to leave a message because their mailbox is full - there should be a refund policy to the Pro. Maybe TT should consider that all Pros contacted pay a much smaller fee and the Pro that gets hired pays 7%-8% of the total booking. I don't mind paying $50 for a job that pays $1000. But $50 for zero response? Not even read my message on the site or on text? I can walk down my street or stand in front of Trader Joe's and collect names easily. For free. But this is a service I pay for and I would say a large percentage of Pros on this site are independent, sole proprietors.

    Ways to Considering Helping Pros Book Jobs: The huge increase in price is said to be because the "leads" are more targeted and valuable - based on our check list and our calendar. And the added value of getting the direct contact information of the client. Ok. But we need TT to help the customer understand better what reaching out to a Pro actually means for the customer. Without specifically telling the customer "pro will be charged when you click to contact" , then how about better, more helpful language elsewhere. For example, as I've posted before, when the customer does their filtering and then sees the list of Pros that fit their criteria, the customer in now seeing a blue box with white print that says "check availability". This is not a true statement for the customer to see. We are available because our calendar allows us to select our own availability. So when we are shown to customers based on the date they seek - then WE ARE AVAILABLE. The customer should know immediately that the list they are shown from their selections are Pros that are indeed available and are a direct match for them. Customers should then be encouraged to read our profile, they should specifically know our prices and then they should be clicking a box that says "ready to contact pro - click here". I have specifically asked my customers if this wording of "check availability" throws them off and they all say yes. Because "check availability" implies just that . . . . check availability. That is not helping us Pros.

    I hope you are reading this again Dusty :))) I've been suggesting this change for over 2 years. I would like other Pros to be aware of this wording that the customers are seeing.

    I am looking forward to some changes to pricing this year. Or I shall say, I am hoping for some pricing changes this year. I don't like when I have to pause my business on Thumbtack just because of cost vs. value.

  • alexrez52
    alexrez52 Posts: 14

    Jami, you are not alone. I have suspended my business at Thumbtack about a month ago and will do that again. My average charge (IF I am selected) is about $50. A lead (with low probability of getting hired) is about $18+. Is there anybody who can convince me that it is a profitable way of doing business except for Thumbtack itself? Especially taking into consideration that one single lead may be sent to several (!) pros who will pay for it, as well. This is a killing model for any business. Including Thumbtack itself.

  • Thank you @alexrez52 for taking the time to read my message. I see more and more Pros in my category with under 10 verified hires. I never used to see that! I find that a interesting fact. It’s my job as a business owner to know the numbers so I look at it all and keep a record. My cost to value last year was worth it - during a pandemic not bad. But I also no longer activate my event photography services due to cost per lead.. Only my video services. Now I’m considering not to do any video projects over 4-5 hour - so no long weddings. Charges are based on customer budget and time needed. That’s fine if we are actually hired. But not reasonable if we are just getting someones contact info and hoping for a conversation. Not very balanced. Like I said - we can all collect names and numbers from strangers for free if we wanted. We should each have the true chance to win a job. I hope for a serious change!

  • alexrez52
    alexrez52 Posts: 14
    edited January 19

    Jami_JConcepts_55, I just called one. The answer was: "I don't need it anymore". What's that? How should one interpret such an answer: another pro bypassed me? A stranger's phone number was entered, like you said? Obviously, no intention to do any business! But I already paid for the lead! This business model won't last long as it is unfair and self-limiting. If I pay, I'd prefer to know what I pay for. Is it too smart or unusual?

  • @alexrez52 May I ask what is your business? When you say “called” did you immediately call as soon as the lead came in? Was it actual phone call or text? I can give you some advice on this.

  • alexrez52
    alexrez52 Posts: 14

    My business is translation. I called to the customer because I was the first who responded (and there was still no activity on the customer side). So I decided to call but the prospect "customer" was obviously not interested at anything. When I subtly suggested that a customer should be at least sensitive to the fact that a pro pays just for the air, I got a simple response: "Oh, I hate these apps". And that's it. So I asked the same notorious question to myself, again and again: "what did you just pay for"?

    Please keep in mind that my business is much smaller in comparison to yours (from the revenue point of view). A lead costs sometimes 35-50% of the projected cost of my average project. A quality of leads is a different story. Even if I won the business, a customer might require a service to be provided in his/her state only while I had clearly indicated that my services are remotely provided throughout the US. I could continue but I'd better stop here. Frustrated.

  • I understand! And your frustration. I have found somewhat helpful to put in the first line of my profile listing - under “why customers should hire you” - my actual hourly rate. Because I find a lot don’t even see that. And I don’t want someone just asking cost then moving on. And maybe they are just looking for price but don’t know how to use the app. Obviously right. I always call right away - my field is competitive- so you have to have good phone skills :). If they said “I don’t want it anymore” try to get a response as to why. Either to learn what you can do better next time at or possibly a refund (get them to write it out for proof). Because our rates are posted and should only contact us if they are fully aware of it. They should respond to us because they are highly interested in hiring and are doing their due diligence. Put in bold caps something eye catching in the fist line of the “why should customers hire you” and hope they read that before clicking on “check availability”. Good luck. I can’t imagine the site working for every service - but find a way that makes them click on you because they need you. I wouldn’t hesitate to even say KNOW MY FANTASTIC SPECIALTIES BEFORE REACHING OUT or something like that. Good luck to you!

  • DustiO
    DustiO Administrator Posts: 434

    @Jami_JConcepts_55 Yes I am here! I don't have anything new to offer, but I do really love seeing these conversations unfold between pros. Thank you for keeping a tough topic productive and constructive. I love the advice about how to handle phone contacts and wording in profiles - and I love seeing these shared experiences and advice. Thank you all for being here!

  • alexrez52
    alexrez52 Posts: 14

    DustiO, thank you for looking into these conversations. It would be really nice if you shared your experience re. the following: has Thumbtack listened to its pros at all? Any positive example of any measure taken in relation to issues and/or questions raised by pros? Frankly, my personal impression in that regard has been negative; so many issues have been raised over the years but the overall situation just gets worse.

    Thank you and happy new year!

  • DustiO
    DustiO Administrator Posts: 434

    @alexrez52 So much at Thumbtack has been done/updated/built thanks to pro feedback. I understand that not all product updates work as well for all pros, but feedback is definitely seen and considered by many teams. I started out as a pro on Thumbtack (I ran a business for 12 years, and the last 4 of those Thumbtack was my sole source of leads) so I understand the experience from both sides.

    When I was a new pro and customer on Thumbtack years ago most customers that came to Thumbtack never got a response from a pro (remember back in the day when pros had to reach out to customers? I myself tried hiring pros during that time with little luck) - I think it was like only 30% of potential customers actually got contacted by a pro - although the system isn't perfect now and we are continuously striving to improve it, customers are now able to see all available pros in whatever category they are looking and can reach out proactively to pros they want to work with. Better customer experience means more customers returning to Thumbtack to hire pros and more jobs done by our pros (last year alone customers started 7 million projects on Thumbtack). Huge improvement, largely driven by pro and customer feedback.

    We recently started requiring customers to enter a phone number, due to pro feedback as well (not a perfect system, but again, continuously being improved).

    I personally have also worked on things like Thumbtack Pro Rewards, this pro Community, third party partnerships, and more, that were designed thanks to pro feedback (and with direct input from pros).

    These are just a few examples. I know it can feel like feedback isn't being heard and I am sorry to hear that the "overall situation has just gotten worse" for you. I am happy to take a look at your account and see if there is anything I can help to improve! If you want to send me a DM we can discuss your specific details in more depth.

  • alexrez52
    alexrez52 Posts: 14
    edited January 19

    DustiO, thank you for your extensive comment. You are welcome to look at my account; I would gladly follow any sound advise. However, I don’t think that anything is wrong with my account since I have always been very sensitive towards quality of my work and customer service (check my feedback roster). Rather, I would summarize just three critical points:

    1) An average ratio lead/pros in my business is 1:3. It means that, as soon as a new lead appears, 2-4 pros react to it trying to be the first. If I am just the second one (not to mention about being the third or forth in the row), I would have to pay for a lead which goes to someone who responded faster. That is a reality. This situation leads to a funny competition between pros; no time to even analyze the request, the most important thing is to be the first! One of the customers who got my response in SECONDS, reasonably asked: “did you read what I need before responding?”. No, because I would have to pay for nothing if I am late! (Likely, I was able to help thanks to versatility of my services). Does it make any sense for anybody except Thumbtack?

    2) Quality of leads. How many times I have tried to address that! The customers’ specific requests vs. the pros’ terms have been largely ignored like the drastic differences between jobs have been. Just a lead, to be paid for! In a number of cases such leads had nothing to do with a pros’ ability to help or a customer was not ready to do any business at all (typical reasons: my paperwork is not ready yet, it should be ready in a month, or I need to have your service to be done in my state only —despite the terms clearly advertised by a pro according to which all services are provided remotely throughout the US). Yet, each “lead” like this is to be paid.

    3) Thumbtack customer service. Each dispute results in a standard bureaucratic denial, obviously without an attempt at getting in the issue. The typical Thumbtack’s answer to above problems is “no”.

    Therefore, my impression is that the only thing which is of interest to Thumbtack is collection of money for leads, no matter of their quality. To my opinion, the company’s business model could and should be different. For example, Thumbtack should charge its pros a % of the real project’s cost (to be verified within the platform) but not for any poorly substantiated “leads”. Otherwise, more and more pros would halt their business at Thumbtack because nobody would like the idea of paying for nothing.

    Apology for a lengthy response.

  • alexrez52
    alexrez52 Posts: 14


  • @alexrez52 Alex I love your response and sharing your specific issues with using the site. It's the same sort of variation for all of us.

    My goal when a lead comes in is to immediately drop everything I am doing and respond as quick as possible. I don't even read it either. I am assuming every lead is a direct match because of my calendar and specifics I keep current. My friends all know this. They know I have to cut off conversations with them or ignore whatever meaningful conversation we are having because "I GOT A LEAD" AGGGGGGGG. Such a side to me I hate seeing. But that is what it has come to now we have phone numbers.

    Also, I can scream the next time someone ask what is your rate. I have it on my profile in Many spots. Customers are NOT reading profiles or very little of it. They would know a lot more before clicking.

    AND - Back to that blue button with the white writing . . . "check availability". It is the most obvious item that needs to be changed. Been asking for years. Why this simple, common sense item has not been addressed makes me question the meaning behind why it has not. The message is misleading and makes the customer feel they need to click on many to find who is available. And it's simply not true! There is NO need to check availability when the customer goes through the process of entering a date, etc.

    But Thumbtack's Position is . . .. how do I make money. Its a business. Sure they want great customer services and product but . . . . still . . . . more clicks more money. Like I said - as of today's date - 7 leads I paid for at a cost of $228.62. Thumbtacks profit on these exact 7 leads was $907.64. That is a fact.

    Dusty, as you said how years ago customers were not happy because no one was contacting them . . . well, since I was around back then, as a Pro I didn't reach out to many of the customers because a majority of them were crap leads. Customers that wanted to pay very low and didn't understand the service providers and the average cost. But I did very well back then. I booked 9 out of 10 back then. However, because so many were coming to the site, but very few Pros were responding to the requests - the thought then became "So how to turn all these customers coming to the site into cash " That's what launched the drastic change and turn around. Yes - a system slowly and costly to us Pros has come into play over the last few years to become what we are today. It has helped in many was for both Pros and customer. However, I also look at the profiles of those in my field and see more "new" people or those with under 10 hires. That says something to me.

    I wish more Pros had a way to read our conversation here. If I could reach out to them all - if they all would be a part of the community . . . that would be great. But numbers are down on community board as well since the format changed.

    Here's wishing us a better 2022!

  • alexrez52
    alexrez52 Posts: 14

    A single lead for 3-4-5 pros… Sounds good provided that each pro pays. Why not, indeed? One of the pros will supposedly earn some business. The rest would just pay for a “lead”. Isn’t it a nice, win-win situation for Thumbtack? Any opinions?

  • No options unless change is made. I like the idea of a small payment from pros and the one that books it pays a percentage. Because if no one books a particular lead with Thumbtack it’s just a costly way to advertise. No customer in my 7 years that did not hire me has kept my information and called me. Another site has free leads and you pay 20% if you book it. I use it but the leads are few. Thumbtack at least advertises itself. That’s a plus. :).


    no more to say but - let’s hope for some changes!

  • alexrez52
    alexrez52 Posts: 14
    edited January 20

    I agree, more so re percentage. However, to pay 30% or even more of an average project cost (in my case a typical project costs about $50) just for a lead which did not turn into a project - what’s the point? To rush things just to be the first (and I totally agree with you on this) having no chance to even evaluate the task - what’s the point? Thumbtack wants me to elevate my budget. So that I pay for a lead not $18+ but, say, $25? Will anybody in my shoes go for it?

    This is not a business. This is just a nonsense GREED killing any business. Let’s name things by their true names.

  • as I told you my numbers for this month - I have now paused my business for the remainder of the month. My profit to loss always needs to be measured in order to be successful. Anyone using this site should be doing the same. Overall last year I spent 10% of my earnings from TT on leads. That’s a bit high but I consider it successful. Like the song goes “you have to know when to hold them, know when to fold them, know when to walk away - know when to run”. If you are keeping track of your cost and bookings you should know how to play your hand at this expense game. I just think TT should find a way to maintain all their Pros on site and active.. I can only assume that a small percentage of TT Pros are successful all the time. It’s just too costly of a chance game. You have to be quick, have a good profile, good rating, reviews and hires, and now more than ever have good phone skills You have to pause your business if you can’t respond immediately. No exceptions. It just sounds to me that you really need to find a way that works - or - walk away. It just saddens me when small businesses keep losing money when a choice can me made. Honestly, I’m loyal to this site - even though I’m frustrated a lot. But I also would never recommend a new Pro to it. I recommend customers to use it all the time. But I do tell them to read profiles and only reach out to one or two they are serious about. If that means anything. Seriously think about it and play your hand smart. :))

  • alexrez52
    alexrez52 Posts: 14

    I’ve been with Thumbtack for about six years. My expenses related to leads take about 70-80% of the entire profit (as I said, the average cost of a project in my case is about $50). Unfortunately, if these practices continue (and I don’t see any signs of positive changes), I would have to quit despite my excellent reputation, great feedback built over all these years, etc. No reason to expand my budget - just to pay more for leads? No reason to keep it this way either…

  • Every time I have to pause my services I ask “why” ??? How sad. Considering all the years we’ve invested and our excellent profile, etc. And you are right - these are points that need to be understood by the TT deciding team. We both are in agreement. Let’s end this chat and focus on positive changes for both sides. :)

    take care!

  • anhtuanb
    anhtuanb Posts: 1

    I am in the same situation as alexrez52. I joined Thumbtack to build my business and hope it would help me to do so but I'm paying for leads that never get hired or no responses. I do think the system should discount the ones that never got hired or responses. It seems unfair to charge everyone the same lead price on a request from a customer" knowing" they can only pick one. Once the job is confirmed by a pro, the hired pro will pay the full lead price while everyone else should get a discount. It's hard to earn money already. When you work on a job, there's a thought on the back of your mind saying the hard work you do now will just pay for another non-hired or non-responding leads. I don't mind paying for leads but not at full price if not hired.

  • I'm in the graphic design field and have been on Thumbtack for about 2 1/2 years. The issues I have are with lack of filtering of customers. To illustrate my point: I design websites and I select the programs that I use clearly in my services (Wix, Squarespace). Yet I get requests for sites to be built in Wordpress only! Website design leads can cost about $120.00 each. I've also gotten requests for sites to built with ADA compliance -- I have no experience with that. So why doesn't Thumbtack filter for designers that are certified with ADA compliance? I've also gotten requests to design websites from sex workers and adult video shops. Why aren't we allowed to reject leads on those grounds and not get charged. The refund policy so far has been fairly lenient so that helps. But I don't want to feel like Thumbtack is doing me a favor "out of courtesy" when I turn down a job for the reasons I've stated here.

  • I agree with you! I’ve had a issue with pricing and filtering for a long time and have seen no change. For example, under event videographer we have the option to click “customers budget” to align us with with the right customer. Our lowest option choice is “Under $400” so when a customer needs a videographer for 1 hour that’s $155 for me and I have a minimum of two hours. There is no filter for that so I get these leads and have to pay for it. Because there are customers that want 2 hours of video for $300 and those jobs I want matches with. There are many. But it’s not possible. I live in Los Angeles. Traffic is a thing. I’m not driving 1 hour for a 1 hour job for $155. And trying to get a refund on a match like this is denied. There needs to be a filter option to not allow jobs under $200 in my category. That is my request. And I agree with “courtesy refund”. It’s not a courtesy. When a refund request is made - there is conversation about it and a reasonable reason for the refund being processed - based on conversation and assessment of the request. And always a case by case evaluation. I appreciate if the wording for refund is not “courtesy”.


    And please change the blue box text of “check availability “ when filters are on. When a customer enters a date request then the available Pros are shown to them. These are the available pros to chose from per the request date. We are available so please change the “check availability”. It’s just doesn’t make sense to me or the clients.