Instant Booking

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  • DustiO
    DustiO Administrator, Moderator Posts: 1,704
    edited October 2023
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    First of all, I want to thank each of you for sharing your feedback about Instant Book. I am sharing this thread regularly with our teams as Instant Book rolls out, so that we can better understand your experiences and work to address your pain points.

    Although Instant Bookings do cost more, we’ve learned that overall, instant bookings convert to more hires for our pros and provide a better customer experience. Specifically, instant bookings convert to hires 2X as often as other leads on average. They deliver higher intent customers who are more committed to getting their jobs done and there's much less competition. 

    Through our initial rollouts, we have carefully listened to and considered pro feedback and have already begun implementing improvements based on that feedback. If the the following changes aren't already implemented for you, you'll see them next week:

    • A new 15 minute cancellation refund policy for bookings, which means if the customer cancels their booking in-product for any reason and it’s within 15 mins of making the request, we’ll refund you the price of the lead back to your balance
    • Pro lead rescheduling, so that you can work with customers to reschedule bookings that don’t work for your (or the customer’s) schedule
    • Google Calendar integration, to help ensure that your Thumbtack calendar is as up to date as possible (we also have several other partner integrations available to connect your Thumbtack account to other tools)
    • Creating more friction for customers if they try to create a duplicate request by reminding them that they already have a booking.
    • And more

    I know big changes like this can be difficult. I would encourage you all to continue to leave your feedback. But, would ask 3 things:

    • Give it a try — Give Instant Book a try and leave us feedback about your experience using itBe sure to set your Max Lead Price to lead prices you are comfortable with.
      • Be sure your preferences and availability are all up to date
      • Make sure your first response is setting proper expectations with customers regarding the price of the job and next steps.
      • Use your upfront pricing to give customers an accurate idea of what they expect to pay to reduce customer cancellations.
    • Give us actionable feedback — ie Let us know what would make Instant Book better, what would make it work for you
    • Keep conversations constructive — please refer to our Community Code of Conduct and keep conversations constructive and productive.

    Let's keep the conversation going — and let us know if you have any more questions about how Instant Book works.

    Tagging in @keddingfield, one of our Thumbtack Pro Advisors, who has found a lot of success with Instant Book, to see if he can offer any advice/insight for pros just getting started with this feature.

  • KateOrganizes
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    @Eryn you’re spot on!!!

    @DustiO if you will indulge me in an analogy: If Chick-Fil-A (Thumbtack) up an decide to stop selling chicken (traditional leads) and started selling steaks exclusively, I bet a number of customers would stop buying lunch there. Sure the steaks may have a better profitability and they may even taste better, but people want the chicken! Is it better to sell 100 steaks at 3x the price it 2000 chicken sandwiches? Here’s a wild idea… offer both as options and let the customer decide (to be clear pros are the actual customer in your business model. Leads the people you continue to identify as customers, are actually the product here).

    I get wanting to expand product offering like instant book. I agree it potentially fills a product offering gap. I think dropping your core product to replace it with this is HIGH RISK for Thumbtack. I pose to you this question: what is being gained by Thumbtack that offsets the risk? Sure you may not answer. It’s a strategic choice by company leadership. But your pros, aka a bunch of business owners, are real curious about how this mandatory change in product offerings is somehow supposed to work. Just saying…

  • rvgrand
    rvgrand Posts: 51
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    I'll just put this here.


    2 hour drive for $30...

  • DustiO
    DustiO Administrator, Moderator Posts: 1,704
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    @Eryn than you so much for the thoughtful feedback — as I mentioned earlier I am sharing this thread continuously with our teams and this kind of information is really important when we look to improve this feature.

  • DustiO
    DustiO Administrator, Moderator Posts: 1,704
    edited October 2023
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    @Judy Firstly, my post was not meant as an argument, I tried to address the best I could the most posted about concerns in this thread, while offering some tips to help make Instant Book work better.

    We have tested the roll out extensively in various markets over the past year - and we have seen  instant bookings convert to hires 2X as often as other leads on average. That is where that number comes from.

    My apologies if you didn't get the answers that you hoped for. As we roll out more, hear more feedback, and make improvements, hopefully many of your unanswered concerns will be addressed. As I have mentioned several times I am sharing this thread with team members daily so that your voices and feedback can be heard. Addressing feedback takes time, but I will be sure to post any improvements or updates as they roll out.

    I am here as a former pro and a Thumbtack team member who has spent the past 6 years deeply involved with our community of pros. I do care deeply about the success of pros using Thumbtack. I have been in the position where I was the sole provider for my family and Thumbtack was my main source of leads, literally putting food on my table. I understand the importance. And I truly am here to hear your voices and help make Thumbtack better.

  • Matt
    Matt Posts: 156
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    @DustiO Instant booking seems like a great concept, but I think the same way Thumbtack isn’t asking the right questions of the clients, they are not asking what the Pro’s want.

    I know thumbtack hosts a variety of professions here, so I am going to be speaking from my perspective as a muralist.

    Here is the flow I see what isn’t working even when turning on instant book (My industry can turn it on/off at this moment).

    On- Site estimates, assumes that I do that, 90% of all jobs I have accepted have not been seen in person, but the implication instant book leaves to the customer is that I will be going to them. Immediately it establishes that I as a Pro am going against something that Thumbtack is promising them, establishing a negative feeling towards the pro.

    Once instant book is enabled, I have to coordinate that with a calendar or 3rd party integration. My schedule is such, that some days are more open than others, but a simple call makes it much easier to understand what the client wants, what is Thumbtack doing on their end to get the correct information from the client to the Pro?

    Instant book doesn’t seem to offer anything special that I have been requiring of Thumbtack, yet I pay a premium for it.

    Where I WOULD pay for instant book is if Thumbtack actually provided more information from the client by asking the questions before the booking, and giving them to the pro.

    For instance - “What is the height/width or square footage of the surface you want painted?”

    “Do you have a budget in mind? “

    “ Do you have a timeline you need to have this done”

    “What is the surface material you want painted (stone, brick, concrete, drywall etc)?

    “Is the mural indoors or outdoors?”

    “Are there limited hours in which the mural can be completed (working around business hours etc)

    I know some of the questions I am asking are already part of the process, but honestly most clients don’t input anything useful to getting better idea on the project itself. Thumbtack really needs to ask a pro from each industry “Is what we are asking of the clients, enough for the Pro to understand the job?”

    I would also pay a little extra for instant book, if I had the ability to reject the job without seeing their contact information, only the information about the job. This is important as I have paid hundreds of dollars for leads that are for $200 budgets when my minimum is $2800 regardless of size, and I never get a refund for those gigs, since I have been provided their information as a “viable lead”.

  • KateOrganizes
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    @Matt @DustiO

    Yesssss please offer an option to reject leads based on project minimums !!!!!

  • DustiO
    DustiO Administrator, Moderator Posts: 1,704
    edited October 2023
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    @rvgrand thank you for sharing that screenshot

  • rvgrand
    rvgrand Posts: 51
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    @DustiO Thanks for sharing the screenshot!

    I think there's a bit of a disconnect in what thumbtack (in this case @DustiO ) is saying in regards to what a hire rate is.

    How is hire rate calculated?

    What is considered a hire?

    How are those metrics gathered?

    I know I've utilized the instant booking feature a couple of times prior to it being mandatory and I considered a project "job done" just because I showed up to a clients property and they didn't require anything more than an estimate. I didn't get hired by that client btw. In this scenario, Thumbtack did not ask me whether I was hired or not, but I'm guessing that this one instance counted towards the 2X hire rate that's being mentioned.

    Also, how do you know if there are repeat clients if they go off thumbtack and message service providers directly? Let alone correlating that to the success of instant booking.

    I'm pretty diligent in filling out Thumbtack surveys but I've never gotten one asking me if I have multiple repeat clients or who they are.

    I think we're all just looking for a bit of transparency here. Which issues have we brought up that are actually being considered? Is there a timeline? Are you looking for a larger sample size?

    @DustiO I know it's unfair that you're having to deal with this backlash, but unfortunately, this is the only place so far where service providers can put their opinions out and know that someone on Thumbtack's end is actually reading them. I also do appreciate you still responding to all of these posts knowing full well you personally can't do anything about these concerns aside from just passing them on.

    I say, people just need to keep posting their concerns and you keep forwarding them. Maybe something will change.

  • Ryan_Ramirez
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    I'm going to be closing my doors on the 15th. I've been struggling since COVID and now this it. 100$ a lead!!!!! or more!!!!!! Just for someone to not be serious. I'm just so depressed and just hurt.

  • Ryan_Ramirez
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    I will be hiding it as well on the 15th. Thumbtack does not even tell clients we pay for these leads. Supposedly they are 'listening to the pros' but when the hell did they even help us out with anything>?! ONE FREE LEAD EVERY OTHER MONTH!? JUST CAUSE?! IDK HOW THAT HAPPENS! UGH!!

  • MRM_Services
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    @DustiO No one is saying to do away with instant booking. We are saying do not make instant booking MANDATORY. That is all we are asking for. Its an extremely easy thing for Thumbtack to accomplish, it literally requires them doing nothing. There is ZERO upside from a Pros perspective in making instant booking mandatory and nothing you all can say will change our minds. Because we see this for what it is, another way for Thumbtack to increase profits, and that's okay we're all business owners here. We understand the need to bring more to the bottom line. But forcing this choice upon us simply wont get company leadership what it wants. It will only get you less Pros on the site. All I want to know from you is will Thumbtack leadership walk back this policy of mandatory instant booking? Or will I take my advertising dollars elsewhere?

  • Ryan_Ramirez
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    I WANT FREE REFUNDS!! I WANT YOU TO STOP THIS INSTANT BOOKING! YOUR KILLING US!!

  • DustiO
    DustiO Administrator, Moderator Posts: 1,704
    edited October 2023
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    @rvgrand, I will get confirmation on what counts as a hire and let you know.

    Currently there isn't a way to track repeat clients as hires, unless they hire you again through the app.

    As far as improvements being made based on pro feedback (in our test markets) - I shared those above, but will share again here:

    • A new 15 minute cancellation refund policy for bookings, which means if the customer cancels their booking in-product for any reason and it’s within 15 mins of making the request, we’ll refund you the price of the lead back to your balance
    • Pro lead rescheduling, so that you can work with customers to reschedule bookings that don’t work for your (or the customer’s) schedule
    • Google Calendar integration, to help ensure that your Thumbtack calendar is as up to date as possible (we also have several other partner integrations available to connect your Thumbtack account to other tools)
    • Creating more friction for customers if they try to create a duplicate request by reminding them that they already have a booking.

    I will share more as it rolls out :)

  • DustiO
    DustiO Administrator, Moderator Posts: 1,704
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    And yes, please keep sharing your feedback!

  • DustiO
    DustiO Administrator, Moderator Posts: 1,704
    edited October 2023
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    @MRM_Services I can't guarantee or predict what changes or updates will occur, but I can promise to keep sharing the feedback!

    As a former business owner I always encourage diversification of marketing dollars. We have marketing webinars that we offer to our pros with Gold or Platinum status - they are lead by a third party marketing company and cover the wholistic marketing of your business (they are not focused on Thumbtack). Really encourage you to attend if you can. You can see the links to register on your Rewards pages in your app (we have 2 coming up next week, and you can see past recordings here).

    However, my hope is that together we can help make Thumbtack better and continue to be one of the tools in your marketing arsenal.

  • Average_joe1
    Average_joe1 Posts: 60
    edited October 2023
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    going to have to deal with it just like when they started sending leads to 10+ people. When we all opt out and they loose money vs make money they will change back. It does amaze me how they keep trying to be like home advisor/Angie’s but don’t realize that’s why we use them over the other. I had a guy select me try to tell me he didn’t want me to go out of the way for small job and I reminded him we do 125/service call as he saw next to my profile before selecting us. He hung up on me and i didn’t get a refund. Also no consistency with cost of leads we had a single broken sprinkler head cost me $57 and other will be new timer for $13. Any one win this duffle bag?

  • Joanna
    Joanna Posts: 3
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    @DustiO I find instant book to be impossible for our business, as we go to the location of each customer, and travel time needs to be considered when booking an appointment. We cover 2 states, so book different areas on different days. These cannot be factored into instant booking. Every time an instant book has been done it's a major problem, and I can't even change the appointment on the Web (I will not install an app on my phone). I've had to set the available times to the middle of the night to stop people from instant booking. I cannot use that feature and need it to be removed.

  • robf
    robf Posts: 18
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    @DustiO I think you are either missing, or ignoring, the point. If a customer books me for a $350 job that takes 3 hours, and the lead cost $75-$90, the math doesnt work. It doesnt matter if I am 75% more likely to get the job. Instant book may be be great for contractors doing jobs that require a site visit. It guarantees "face time", and then its just sales. But for Pros that have set fees it simply does not work. Thumbtack has been pushing different variations of this for a couple of years. Each time they have made it more difficult to opt out. It is nothing but a cash grab.

    Thanks

    Rob