2019 Year-End Pro Town Hall with Marco

Community Manager
Community Manager
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2019 has been quite a year for pros on Thumbtack. We introduced new product features for pros, like Price Assurance. Thumbtack employees connected in person with hundreds of pros at events from Atlanta to Los Angeles. And millions of customers brought their projects to Thumbtack. 

As we wind down the year, we’re excited to bring the first ever Year-End Pro Town Hall with Marco (Thumbtack’s CEO) to the Pro Community. Earlier this month, Marco asked you to submit your questions for our first ever Pro Town Hall. We received over 300 submissions, with topics ranging from leads and advertising plans to why background checks are important. And of course, we recorded the answers.

69 responses
Active Community Member
I appreciate the response to my question. Look forward to doing more business with thumbtack next year. 😀
Community Newcomer

Thanks. good info I have one more request you consider. we have been top pros on  and off for years. What about another level for those of us that JUST missed the mark. another badge we can use for example. "Top pro 5 out of the last 6 years or something like that. OR  some name like top pro but just below that. we have the reviews and the length of service we missed it slightly by spped of reply to customer.

Community Newcomer

Refunding was good:) I was getting charged like crazy and not hired. Only issue I have is that people want to spend half of our market value for jobs and there should be an hourly minimum set on jobs or our craft is devalued. $300 bucks for a 6hr wedding is crazy, $600 is what I pay to my staff and $1200 $2000 I charge the client. DJ shouldnt be less than $100/hr.

Community Newcomer
prices Need to go down , same with amount of contractors home owners can reach out to because we pay basically same price for lead just compete more with other contractors
Community Newcomer

Dear Marco,

We appreciate the perspective. I would encorage you and Thumbtack to consider doing something like this a bit more often. Not everyone likes change but the context your provided was invaluable.

While the likes of Yelp, HomeGuide and Angie's List all seem to want to be in your space, Thumbtack far and away consistently provides the highest quality leads.

Chuck and Luciana 

The Balanced K-9

Active Community Member

OMG!!  How can you NOT understand how important it is to background check ALL pro’s?

By NOT doing this, you open the door for scam artists to make their way into TT.  Just one national news article on a TV show like Dateline, or 20/20 of someone getting ripped off by a Thumbtack Pro….does a lot of damage to the entire company’s reputation. And a lot of money will have to be spent on advertising and public relations to earn back the lost trust.

I’ve been w/TT since 2013 [ 400+ hires, 200+ reviews, 2,000+ bids sent out, OK?].

A few years ago a lead came in from another platform. It was to finish an abandoned kitchen renovation. The job-poster had found a Thumbtack Pro who took her deposit, did a little work and vanished. I referred her to the MarketPlace Integrity Team in Salt Lake.

I object to your referring to the Job-Posters as customers. The people watching this video are the real customer’s.

Now: If TT was to be more transparent, and really hammer into the heads of the Job-Posters…that ONLY Top Pro’s have undergone a background check….that makes it even more difficult for new Pro’s who have not been with TT long enough to earn Top Pro status. It becomes a sort of automatic “black mark” against any rookie who is being compared to a Top Pro.  How is that fair?

Next: Would it really kill you to have the Job-Posters enter the Star-rating twice, for the purpose of confirmation when posting a review? Of my 230+ reviews, around 16 are four star, but for some of them the text reads like five-star, so my best guess is the job-poster was fumble fingered on their phone.

Reese Turbin, Dec 17, 2019

Community Newcomer
We should have direct consultants to help our business grow. We grow, you grow.
Community Regular

I would love to see Thumbtack focus their attention a little more on commercial and/or management based consumers, as this would provide the right pros with more lucrative and larger scaled opportunities. The present platform works, but I would love to see an increase in volume and quality leads. . 

Thumbtack's effort to please both the consumer and the service provider should not go un-noticed. Other lead generation providers are either less reliable and/or much more costly. Customer service is also quite impressive compared to competitors.

 

Community Regular

I think that some consumers are just stingey with five star reviews as they feel a five star review is exclusively for exceptional performance of the respective task and a four star review is still good review.

All profiles indicate whether a pro has completed a background check, so it's kind of up to the customer to put forth a little due dilligence as to whom they allow in their homes and who their comfortable working with. Many pros just dont want to provide that information to multiple online venues and Thumbtack would be a fool to turn away the business of pros that elect not to provide that information.

I have several competitors that do not have the same Top Pro badge that I have, but they definitely get more hires and more reviews because they are much more dilligent and/or have a bigger budget. Unlike many pros, I like that certain variables are up to the pro having a good sales approach, but I can definitely agree that the lack of a Top Pro badge can work against a pro with the proposed platform. 

Community Newcomer
My name is James I'm with James appliances in Austin Texas I've been with Home Advisor probably a year-and-a-half now and I just joined thumbtacks about 3 months ago I do like their processing better somewhat one question I would like to know them to do if they can when they charge you for a lead can they put how much they charge you there instead of just you paid for this cuz you basically have to include this in the price when you go do the job another scenario is there mapping scenario it shows your ZIP code but sometimes zip codes are really big could behalf of a city Home Advisor actually gives you the street address that would help a lot I know you're not home advisor don't want you to be home advisor just a couple questions that's all thank you sincerely James
Community Regular
Thank you for this video!👍👍 I thought my profile was pretty good but now I think I’m going to add more price details because I am repeating things in my responses. Although I personalize each response. My work varies from job to job so thanks for the suggestion.
Community Regular

I agree with AMStudio and other posters on this thread...

"This can be done over the phone or internet" is the bain of my existence. It seems harmless enough, that a lead is able to select if they want to travel to you, if they want you to travel to them, or if they can do it virtually. I run a tax preparation firm and can easily do taxes over the internet, and actually have with clients in just about all of the 50 states. But I can't tell you how many times I get a lead for them to say "oh, I was looking for someone in my area" - then I was charged for that lead and am not eligible for price assurance because they responded. Just like AMStudio said, then I have to fight with TT and waste my time to get a refund.

I also agree with what other posters are saying that the customers of Thumbtack are the ones who pay Thumbtack for a service - so the customers are the PROS, not the other way around. The leads are using a free service, much like Google but for professional listings. Google doesn't consider their "customers" to be everyone using their search engine, they consider their advertisers their customers.

Community Regular

Hi Marco, Happy holidays to you. I must first of all say thank you for bringing this platform forward. It's been a good year for my business however through the months a lot has changed which has affected my business. I enjoy spending to keep the leads coming, I like the refund policy but I hate to say your recent addition of auto booking has changed all for bad. I believe pros should be able to bargain everything including times and payment. Many of us here do have other engagements (fulltime jobs) as a result not able to open up our times yet still want to get leads that fit into our schedule. If you insist on this instant booking, you're technically isolating us. I would like you all to leave all options open including instant booking. I have many stories about customers and their reference. While I understand you would like your business to remain profitable, think about the pros welfare too. Help us grow for good. Happy holidays.

Community Newcomer

Why can't we set up our lead the way we want to? I charge my clients on a weekly basis and with your system I have to set up my services per session. I find that very unfare and that takes away from the people that I am trying to target and the people I could be getting.

Active Community Member

On the face of it, including prices in our profiles could work against us. I have written this in the past. So, I will not repeate my comments again.

But here is an interesting twist to the Pros posting their pricing. How nice it would be for us Pros if the Job Poster told us how much they were willing to pay? I saw a request today that indicated how much (actually how little) the Job Poster was willing to pay. It was about 42% of the rate that has been winning jobs for me. And the Job Poster had zero responses from any Pros. That system is a WIN! for the Pros. I am looking forward to see how the Job Poster will re-write their request.

Community Veteran

@MeckellWhat seems to have been missed in Marco's Town Hall presentation is the clear need to establish a permanent and transparent feedback system. More than 250 questions did not get answered. And we rarely ever get an answer to the questions that include 'Why was some feature or tool removed?' I will remind you of a feature that is gone with no explaination. The age of a house to be inspected by a Home Inspector. How will Marco ever achieve finer granularity when the granularity that had been is place is being dismantled by Thumbtack. Does Marco get reports that detail the lost granularity? Does Marco know who is directing this loss of granularity?

And why is an unlicensed Thumbtack Pro allowed to be listed in a category for which he is clearly not licensed? More than half the states in the USA require Home Inspectors to be lisensed. That granularity has also been lost. The issue of license verification is as important as Background  Checks. Thumbtack had at one time verified Home Inspector's licenses. Now that service to the customers is gone.  Both the licensed Pros and the customers are looking for that service to be returned. The ability for Customers to filter for Pros that are Licensed would prove to be a significant improvement for the customers. As it is now customers who read a profile for a home inspectors is being show a licensed plumber as a 'license veryfied' when they are searching for a home inspector. This is true of chimney sweeps and electricians who list themsleves as a home inspector and compete against Pros who Thumbtack will no longer verify. Thunbtack could at least inform the customers which license for which a Pro has been verified. Please bring this up in the discussion on 'granularity' from the point of view of the customers and the Pros. It is two sides of the same coin.

Community Veteran

@HansenJC I will add along the lines of credentials being overlooked by TT, in the category of estate planning attorneys, TT displays (sometimes more than one) individuals who are just mobile notaries and advertise that they "work on estate plan documents." These people are not attorneys but TT is showing them in a list of individuals in the "estate planning attorney" category. Holding yourself out to be an attorney when you are not is both unethical and illegal. I have raised this issue several times to TT months ago here on the boards, but nothing has changed. I was told to call customer service, but I would expect that TT would internally investigate this and take care of it witout asking their customer to take on that burden. 

 

 

Active Community Member
Hi.
I live in Monterey, Ca but 90% of my business is 65-85 miles north.

I am listed as Monterey so I state all of the areas I service in my profile.
I’ve had no problems.

I do the same on my website.

Deborah
Community Regular
For sure I learned the hard way, too! You must manage the incoming leads in order to maintain a reasonable pricing because otherwise it’s just throwing wild pitches until you tell the pitcher to WATCH IT!
Community Regular
2019 was a great experience for me in Thumbtack I like the change about the unread refund but I want thumbtack to put the price lower for the quote for 2020
Community Regular
Marco thumbtack isn't the same was 5 years ago you have to drop down the prices for be great again.
Community Newcomer

I think that thumbktack could be a valuable resource. However i don't agree with paying anything until the client books, even setting a weekly budget. You would need to spend quite a bit to net a decent return and i don't agree with that.   When a client shows interest negotiate price if they agree then you take a percentage from that.  I get leads and clients who want to book, but i don't want to pay upfront until i know they will use our services.

Community Expert

@ReeseTee I want to make one clarification here. One of the newer requirements for being a Top Pro is the background check. This is not to be confused with Top Pros being the ONLY pros on Thumbtack with a background check. It is still possible to have a great profile, reviews, and background check without being a Top Pro.

Community Manager
Community Manager

@boundlesstax if a customer states that they're looking for someone remotely and reach you, but then state that they're looking for someone in their area, please dispute the charge. When the customer's job details change, that is something we will refund for. 

Community Expert

@5127892405 Hey James, to be sure what you've paid with certain leads be sure to check out your Payments page. When quoting through the Opportunities section you can also check to see what you'll pay if the customer responds by clicking "learn more" under the customer name. 

Community Regular
I have to say that's one thing I like about HA and A list is that they have the "what you should pay" info for jobs.
I wish people would read that before submitting requests.
What also sucks us that California limits jobs to $500 INCLUDING materials!
Hard to build a fence for someone with that budget.
California even has a sting operation to catch the bad handymen.
That's good but $500/job is a pretty low bar to keep someone off welfare.
Community Regular
DITTO TKOR!:
Thumbtack's effort to please both the consumer and the service provider should not go un-noticed. Other lead generation providers are either less reliable and/or much more costly. Customer service is also quite impressive compared to competitors.
Community Regular
Then have that discussion wuth your customer.
TT led you to the customer. Scheduling and charges are up to you.
Community Regular
Shhhhh....the password is: (Granularity).
Community Regular
If I could be reimbursed 100% for quotes or looky loos I would be extremely happy.
It takes money out of my pocket for the lead, then time to discuss and generate a quote, sometimes fuel to travel etc.
Then the guy who just needs $20 for a bottle comes in and wins the quote.
Then I have to try to pass that loss on to my next two or three customers. So eventually my base rate has had to go up. I'm not making any more profit.
And the customers are scared because I'm charging too much.
A vicious circle.......
Community Regular

@MR I agree. I work in tax preparation and accounting/bookkeeping, and the credential checks are very loose on TT. I am an Enrolled Agent - so I am not licensed by my state, but instead nationally by the IRS. When I went to verify my credentials, the support rep stated "they generally don't verify national credentials" but would do so since I asked and provided documentation proving my license. That's scary, especially with the line of work I am in.

Community Newcomer
Thank you for all the work you do ,
I turned off auto reply , because was being charged to many times without a ever a reply .
The problem is that I cant put a price w the small info given . Some costumer don’t know yet what they want ?Can’t put in an hourly rate ,
Community Veteran

@boundlesstax  Interesting. Thanks for sending.

It is interesting because not only are the pros liable for falsely purporting to be something they are not, TT can also be held liable as they are promoting through their app and website these people who are not who they are advertising to be. 

I am surprised TT has not jumped on this long ago as the penalties can be severe.

 

Active Community Member

Your answer only confuses the issue as far as I can see. 

I administrate a Facebook group of Thumbtack Pro's. It is open to salaried Thumbtack employees, and there are several, but they have been advised "post at your own risk...lest you become an internet version of a pinata".

Any Thumbtack Pro requesting entry must provide a link to their TT Profile. I do check that out, I see lot's of Pro's on Thumbtack  who have NOT passed the background check. 

Many TT Pro's feel there is a lack of TRANSPARENCY on many fronts. I assert that TT-Corporate is telling us "Job-Posters are sophisticated enough, and internet savvy enough...to differentiate between background-checked-Pro's  AND not-background-checked-Pro's."

I disagree with that: It is my opinion, that the majority of the Job-Posting Population assumes that ANY Pro listed on TT has been background-checked.  

One more time: Thumbtack-Corporate's failure to background check will one day blow up in everyone's face. A Scam Artist who weasels their way onto Thumbtack will do something terribly wrong...it will be in the news and it will hurt TT's image....and that will result in fewer leads for the rest us.

I am very upset about the whole thing, and it seems like Corporate just doesn't get it.

Community Newcomer

I agree completely with pricing being outrageous.  I had a past customer that put in a request for a job and I recognized the name.  The new lead price was 500% more than I paid not even two years ago!  On average 300%-600% more for leads than what I used to pay and a lot of customers are just fishing for pricing.  

Community Veteran
I wonder what justification TT would give for this enormous price increase ? For example the airline industry will tell you that fares must increase due to higher fuel costs and higher labor costs. What reasons will TT offer to explain these increases. I realize some lead prices went down but I believe the aggregate change is in fact an increase overall
Community Newcomer
I agree with you.
Community Veteran

Marco endorses the practice of charging Pros for sending replies to leads who NEVER even read the Pros replies.

Because of this continuing practice any assurances by Marco that Thumbtack has the best interests of its Pros at heart leaves me incredulous.

If Marco wishes to demonstrate that Thumbtack TRULY does have the best interests of its Pros at heart then they he could very easily discontinue this practice immediately; that would a credible step to take.

The fact that Marco permits this practice to continue unabated speaks volumes.

Community Regular
I agree quoting jobs is costly.
I think I am on the lower end of pricing my work for the quality I do.
I have driven by jobs I have quoted and not won seeing that NO work has been done so nobody got the job.
I think people get sticker shock after hearing a quote and decide to not go forward or wait.
Meanwhile I have spent money on the lead. Money on travel and the time to develop the quote.
I have had to start charging for quotes I have to physically go look at and that's not working well either.
Community Veteran

@haz2treb  I am interested in your comment when you said "I have had to start charging for quotes I have to physically go look at and that's not working well either.".... do you mean that you are baking the TT fees into your prices or you are actually sending a bill for the lead cost to the lead?

 

Community Newcomer

I am a banjo, bass guitar, guitar, mandolin, piano, and ukulele instructor. I used to get more leads than I could do. Now I am getting exact matches as far away as Florida, Colorado, I can't travel from one end of the country to the other for a half hour lesson once a week. So the exact match is proving to be unpractical for me. Ukulele instruction is one of the fastest growing instructions in the nation. But it's not on the able to add it to my profile. Nor can I create it, any chance you can add something not on the profile list.

Community Regular
I charge a premium for the first hour to cover the lead fee.
What I meant was that when a customer requires me to come assess a job for a quote then I charge $40 to cover my time, travel and lead fee.
I explain why and about half of them are ok with that.
Also shows they are invested in getting the project done and not just using me to tell them how it should be done.
Also almost everyone is not aware that we are charged for the leads so they understand I have already put money into they're project even if they don't decide to go through with it and are more careful about being serious next time they place a request.
Community Regular
You need to learn how to adjust your area settings.
Had the same problem when I started on here.
They can walk you through it.
Pretty easy to do.
Community Newcomer

Although I understand that you will do everything possible to keep our information safe, you still did not answer why we need to submit our social security number for Top Pro status under Background Checks. I recently had a chat session with "Jace" and this is what he said after I asked what the background checks were researching:

Our primary focus with background check results are convictions related to felonies, violent misdemeanors, and theft-related offenses. We do not pull a credit report. 

A person’s criminal history generally goes back to when they were 18 years old (unless they’ve been able to have the charges removed/dismissed or they were a minor charged as an adult)

Unless you are doing a credit check, you DO NOT need my SS#. Giving Checkr my SS# should not be required for a criminal background check aside from the fact that Checkr has had over 120 complaints with the BBB since their inception in 2016.

I would like to be listed as a Top Pro and not providing my SS# shouldn't eliminate me from doing so.

Community Expert

@Lar I’m sure you’re aware since the launch of our Price Assurance policy, but for others reading I think it’s important to distinguish that pros now receive refunds for leads that go unread after 48 hours. So long as a pro has set targeting preferences and responded within 4 hours to the exact match. If I remember correctly from the Price Assurance Q&A you stated that you feel all unread responses including partial matches should qualify as well. 

We’ve come a long way in restructuring when pros pay when compared to a year or two ago, and Price Assurance has been a huge positive step for our company and pros. Pros used to pay right when they sent out any quote for a project, regardless of the customer later reading or responding at all. Things have never actually been as good as they are right now in terms of when pros pay and our refund policy, it’s only gotten better and better: pros quoting through the Opportunities section is now completely free until the customer responds and being seen in search results is also completely free and pros only pay when a customer has reached out to them.

I know things are certainly not perfect, but there’s never been a time in our company’s history where we’ve been able to back pros in this way with Price Assurance. We know we’re not done yet and of course going to keep learning and looking at ways in which we can continue to improve.

Community Newcomer

I suggest customers should be aware that pro actually have to pay money to Thumbtack when a pro responds. It appears a lot of people not serious at all about hiring. Maybe, if they were aware that somebody has to pay for their time killing on thumbtack, they would be more responsible. 

Active Community Member

I just saw a second similar direct lead that included a specific amount to do a job that they estimated would take less than an hour. (They neglect the travel cost of one to two hours in city driving round trip and the cost to TT to send a quote. The net would be a loss for anyone more than about 5 miles away) The job poster announced that they were an out of state business that would pay $50 to photograph an abandonded building (home?) that they were going to bid on at auction. This brings up the question of how they may be skirting the Illinois Home Inspection license laws. No licensed inspector will photograph a home without writing a report. So the job poster has targeted unlicensed tradesmen by posting it under handyman category rather than home inspections. My point is that the low price just might get some takers here on TT, but I was happy to decline it without cost to me.

Another recent post had 17 Pros contacted and zero responses to a non-specific job description. No mystery there, but why is TT allowing 17 Pros be contacted? This sure seems broken to me.

Active Community Member

@MR  I have notified TT in writing as well as the IDFPR. But it seems that no one is too concerned with their risk.

Active Community Member

@Kameron  How are Pros able to audit the elapsed time from their quote to the point that a quote is eventually read? It is not apperant to me how I will ever know that the Job Poster went over their alloted time of 48 hours to read our message.

Community Expert

@InspectionsJCH The timestamp in the messenger along with the customer read receipt should help. After 48 hours the pro will receive an email and notification about their refund. The refund will be applied as a credit to their Thumbtack account and noted in their inbox and payment history.