I recently came back to Thumbtack after one successful contract about a year and a half ago. It seemed reasonable to give it a trial period due to the new system. By the way, I've operated my solo communications services and consulting business for over 30 years serving Fortune 100 companies to startups, so I've learned a thing or two.
Here are my observations and opinions:
So, if I were to grade Thumbtack as a job matching platform for professionals I'd give it a C for the courage to implement what their decisionmakers thought was an improvement over the failing old system. This may have been a decision weighted toward increased revenue though, instead of an improved service for job listers and service providers. I'm afraid I'd give the revised Thumbtack system an F, mainly due to the lack of transparency in fees and the totally inadequate project information provided. Service providers must guess at the scope and nature of projects, as well as whether the requesters even have adequate funds to pay fair and reasonable wages to service providers.
I think that Thumbtack could benefit greatly by hiring a diverse group of professionals who have used this platform to completely redesign it. It's clear that those who have designed this platform don't have adequate knowledge about nor experience with the realities and nuances of contracting. They also are not serving as advocates for service requesters. I'm not trying to be insulting here, just recognizing the truth based on Thumbtack's practices.
I hope that this assessment is helpful for fellow community members and, especially, to Thumbtack's executives. The future for job matching platforms like Thumbtack is bright, but only when they find ways to properly serve all users transparently, honestly and effectively while operating with sustainable profits.
The old system generated a Billion $ privately held company. I'd not call that a "failing platoform" seems like TT has become increasingly greedy wanting more profit for TT.
Excellent points. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post and I think you nailed it. I would add one thing though. Most of the complaints from pros over the insane system of having to pay for a potential client simply asking a question are a valid point that TT simply won't address in their replies. The moderators talk around it. I understand why, it isn't the first time a bad decision has filtered down to those who are the face of the company being forced to repeat talking points about how great an awful product is. The difference in those who come out of a bad rollout though is that they either roll back the change to a position of "First, do no harm", and then regroup and make better incremental changes. Or, they at least surgically address the deal breaker for their clients (and the pros are TT's clients, not the job listers) and do something on a remedial basis with a full transparent admission that they screwed up. TT has done neither and as the odd "let's put a positive spin on a bad rollout" talking points continue, I have a different theory as to why this is happening.
I don't think any business wants to be charged for someone saying a polite "no thank you". And the fact that this is an aspect of the system means two things: 1. It wasn't well thought out. 2. Those who thought it out were coming from a tech startup mentality and not from experience on running a business much as those run by the pros. No intelligent, experienced business person would ever agree to pay for simple "replies" to our buds. It is just too likely to be dinged over and over for leads that go nowhere. And when the price of the asked question is triple or more what we used to pay then that only adds insult to injury for pros who know this is bad business and no way to run one.
So, my thoughts after watching and reading dozens of pro complaints and the often hilariously contorted responses from TT that either don't answer the question or only answer it by repeating the same talking points, I have developed a different theory. I don't think this was meant to be a systemic improvement at all. I think it was meant to have a specific purpose and result and as such, the complaints from pros are never going to be heard or addressed because they were expected, and the circular explanations and the Pollyanna non-explanations were meant to mitigate those complaints by simple drawing out the string until the complainers stopped.
By charging 3X or more for an asked question than what we used to pay for credits to bid, TT created an immediate and probably very large influx of revenue. This influx will allow them to move forward with whatever their end game is (and at this point there is zero indication as to what that is despite assurances) and do so with cash to change, program, invest and do it on the backs of the price gouge. The second thing it does, and yes, I believe this is intentional too, is to drive all off the small pros from the site. Perhaps the vision for the future consists of and works better with volume providers and they can best accomplish this by draconian pricing, ridiculous circular answers or nonanswers, and the whole "pay when a client replies (the single worst policy I've ever seen a business roll out).
If it is meant to move the company forward with a strong cash position that allows it to position itself for.... whatever....it sees its next step to be it may need to be done by pushing out smaller, non-volume pros. While I am sure that a moderator would deny that, if not removing my post outright, then I would at least say this. Just like it is a ridiculous policy to have people must pay for clients who simply reply regardless the outcome and drive up pro costs, adversely, it is just basis math to realize that our comments probably won't generate any changes because maybe, they were headed this way on purpose.
With a 3X or greater surge in pricing, TT could theoretically weather a loss of just under 2/3 of its pros and still haul in more cash than it did before the changes. And it isn't a stretch to assume that those pushed out would be smaller to medium pros who can't weather that kind of increase for client acquisition. In the space in between the extra cash is available to continue to explore or implement changes that would be more focused on higher volume pros and to move through this sort of attrition, to a model that serves those volume interests and leaves behind the smaller guys. That’s why I think they won't make any changes to this, because they don't need to. Any company that can lose 2/3 of its client base and still make more money isn't likely to be motivated to change because that's probably not their purpose in the first place.
I don't think they will make any changes because after all this time and with this many complaints (sorry, "complaints from some pros" that the mods mention just doesn't fly when using common sense and basic math), maybe the goal was to generate more money from higher volume and more specialized pros by created a money grab that allows them to weather the attrition and position whatever comes next to service only those who are left.
It's just a theory. But it's one arrived at with just basic math, common sense and even basic business experience regardless of the size of the pro's company. It certainly makes more sense than circular answers, non-answers, continuous hyping of a bad product and the rollout of the worst pricing scheme I've ever seen.
Then you need to take that TT let them know the price is to hire. They want a piece of the pie to get you the client. What price would you tell them that is fair?
I fully agree with your asessments of this business model. The purpose of the changes is to give as little information to the Pros as possible, and too much automation that the Pros cannot change because the delete buttons are missing. I told them it looked like it was set up for customer tech support but not independent contractors with many different job skills. I only have been with the company for four weeks, and discovered that it is not user friendly for Pros, and the company treats the Pros like they where their employees with activity reports and censuring Pros when they write the fact and not fiction. I decided to look elsewhere for work as a highly skilled Massage Practitioner and Licensed Skin Care Specialist (Esthetician). Thumbtacks hires clerks without having basic knowledge of skill sets and make up these charges. I would not be surprised if they are on commission. They did not know what a pro-forma invoice is (it's a quote Thumbtack!) and a quote is an estimate only and not the final price or cost.
I fully agree with your asessments of this business model. The purpose of the changes is to give as little information to the Pros as possible, and too much automation that the Pros cannot change because the delete buttons are missing. I told them it looked like it was set up for customer tech support but not independent contractors with many different job skills. I only have been with the company for four weeks, and discovered that it is not user friendly for Pros, and the company treats the Pros like they where their employees with activity reports and censuring Pros when they write the fact and not fiction. I decided to look elsewhere for work as a highly skilled Massage Practitioner and Licensed Skin Care Specialist (Esthetician). They did not know what a pro-forma invoice is (it's a quote Thumbtack!) and a quote is an estimate only and not the final price or cost.
@MailKingUSAWow! I am surprised you weren't sensored. Horrible is an understatment though. But I guess if you can use that word, then I can too. I tried using a word to accurately describe a tool that is not well suited to a task. And that word was sensored. What did I say? Imagine what you would call a rock tied to a stick when you really want to use a 16 ounce framing hammer. Now look up any appropriate word for that. But I will start using "horrible" if Thumbtack will allow it.
I just Found out that the new system from Thumbtack is simply unprofessional and unfair.
This is a screenshot of my receipt from Thumbtack just for having emailed a couple of times with a potential coustomer who in the end sent me in circles and wasted my time (and money).
I feel the customer ought to be charged the amount above for repeatedly making false promises to book a gig she never intended to make. What is worse, is that they also live very close to my neighborhood so I kept making actual time for them to come over and have my henna work done.
This is not right!
I, too, have a hunch that the only (and most likely - very few-) Pros who like the new system are in some sort of business that can SUPPORT the very high costs on TT. It seems plain to me that most of us do not fit that mold. Please, TT, think about this. I clean houses. I charge $20 per hour. A usual day for me is 4-5 hours of work. Do the math: you will understand why I cannot afford TT much now. Iamscared to send quotes now because most of the time they dont pan out. My reputation in my town is very good, based on my results. So, it is not like I am competing with a lot of Pros for work. Many of the other cleaning companies are big ones who pay their workersminimum wage. Many people do not want to hire that sort of person. I work alone. NO employees and nor do I want any! I guarantee my work and stand by it. I used to rely on TT for almost all of my jobs and would suggest to other people to try TT. Now I dont.