Personally, while the budget showing on the quote request is essential for us, we do not use it as a pricing guide. We use it as a litmus test to tell us how serious the people are, whether or not they are grounded in reality. For example, we see "Personal Chef" events all the time for 2 people and they are willing to pay $25...that's not realistic...so we don't bother. I just did a personal chef job this morning for a bachlorettte party brunch...12 people at $30 per person plus tip...I did another Personal Chef job last week for two people for an anniversary dinner @ $125 per person...neither of these clients flinched about pricing. So adding the budget shows us if the people are really serious or just messing around.
In catering jobs, we see a ton of jobs on the weekend with all of them being scheduled for 1, 2 or even 3 years away...I have decided it's teenagers playing "wedding planner" because they all have their attendance set at 150-200 guests and budgets of $40-$50 per person (when budges were shown) that tells me that 99% of the time bidding the job is a waste of my time. Scattered, yep pretty much...but in closing...bring back the budgets ASAP, I might need help booking some empty dates, but I can lose money without any help :-)
Yes, you owe us an apology big time. We are loosing money since all this start. And you double your earning on us. Check my stats. Its a fact.
Im spending MORE for LESS. Not to mention, the time I spend complaining with my Pro Assistant over the phone + the emails I have to send.
You keep talking to us as we are your employees, and you talk about USERS as your clients. WE ARE YOUR CLIENTS, WE ARE PUTING THE MONEY.
So If you think budget is not important, WHY you are asking us a WEEKLY BUDGET????
If we follow your logic, that we raise prices if we know the users budget, WE CAN THINK YOU CHARGE US MORE, BASE ON OUR WEEKLY BUDGET!.
PACKAGES PLANS NOW????
So now we have to change the way we do business and offer PACKAGES?? YOU DO NOT OFFER PACKAGES ANY MORE!!! we use to buy credit on packages and you took that away, but now you are planing for us to use it????? WHY???? You give me package to me then.
Thumbtack you didnt see the real problem yet. you are thinking on the USER as a customer, while your REAL CLIENT (us) is treated as an employee.
You are deing so stubern, ALL PROS are asking for something and you can admit you were wrong.... the only thing you think you did wrong is not giving us enought notice.......
thank you (i guess)
I'm absolutely stunned that for the very first time, we are being spoken to in a caring way. This is the FIRST time our concerns have been respectfully addressed - without a circular excuse that defies logic - and asked sincerely for our input. Thank you so very much for finally, finally, finally showing some sense of compassion. That's 95% of the cause of the rage that pros are feeling.
Now, to address the issue... It actually made a lot of sense, after pondering it, if people would have just stopped their knee-jerk reactions and looked at the facts. I don't know about other categories, but in photography, the budget options had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH REAL WORLD PHOTOGRAPHY PRICING! I've been fighitng TT over that for 4+ yrs. Since TT absolutely refused to offer real options, I thought that perhaps it would indeed be better to eliminate the budget question. I now send out quotes with several pricing options. I figured that they could then choose the right package for their mystery budget.
All in all, a good plan - however, because TT forces the pro to put a price in, and removed the options for "need more info to bid", I had to choose one of the package prices each time, with no ability to let the client know that there are more options. For many bids I put in the insane lowest low I could go, which was $150. So that's entry level for a mini session. However, it makes me look like an amateur cheapo if that sets me in with the amateur cheapos prices. So, bidding and bidding and no responses. Then I started using my second option of $195 for studio, and for when I had to travel to them, $295 or $395, depending on where they are. But still, no meaningful responses. Definitely no hires. Today I got my first hire since they took away the budget question! Weeks with nothing!
Frankly, I was livid! I was getting such little biz all year and seriously worried. I then figured out how to survive on the 15 bid system and managed to do $30,000 in sales the following 3 months, even though I'm still down $9k for the year because of having to cut my session fees in half. But I kicked major *ss and had an amazing 3 mo! Then they took away budget, and I crashed. NO HIRES!
So, TT, please, please, PLEASE listen to me, as an expert pro in making this system work - PLEASE DO NOT GO BACK TO THE BUDGET QUESTION UNLESS YOU CHANGE THE OPTIONS TO REAL WORLD PRICING - AND GIVE US SOME FLEXIBILITY TO LABEL WHAT THAT PRICE MEANS ( solid price, starting price, average price, etc.)
I LOVE THE IDEA OF GIVING THEM NO PARAMETERS AND LETTING THEM ENTER THEIR OWN UNTAINTED IDEA OF BUDGET!!!!!! I don't know if it will work, but I DO know that if you offer them 3 options that are all under real world pricing, then we're stuck doing jobs that barely pay the mortgage.
YES YES YES - I DO CHARGE MORE WHEN THE BUDGET IT HIGHER! Every time! And that's because when their budget is higher, they're actually starting to approach the real price of the session! I want to charge my non-TT $395 for a session on TT, but I'm forced to discount that sesion down, on TT, to $295 if I'm lucky, $195, and even $150!!! I want to charge $395 every time, because that's my real price on it, but, if I want to actually book it here, I have to drop it. So yes, any time someone says their budget is up to $500 (LOL! Rarity indeed!!!), I set my price at $395. As I said, due to having to now bid with 15 pros instead of 3-4, I was forced to drop that session down to $150 to get jobs, and it's cost me $9000 in session fee losses this year!
I know that these people will pay more for the session if offered only real pricing options, and if the cheapo shoot-n-burn amateurs who have no overhead and undeclared off-the-books income, weren't on here driving prices down for the actual professionals with overhead - because clients do spend that money later on prints. They have the money and they're willing to spend it. But if they come here after a Google search that shows "THUMBTACK - AFFORDABLE PHOTOGRAPHERS", and they're thinking they'll have to spend $500 for a family portrait session but then they see several options on budget choices well below that, they think "Oh, photography is much cheaper now! It used to be expensive!" and they pick a low budget and think that amatuers are going to create professional calibre images for them!
So, please, let them put whatever number they have in mind, without set options, and let's see how that goes, because the old way wasn't realistic and the new way has caused a total drop in responses and hires.
What I discovered today, as well, is that another reason for the drop is that they see all the cheapos with unprofessional work, showing up right away on instant match, and they never looked at any of the real pros who sent personal responses the way a professional should. They only see the junk, and they walk away without hiring anyone, because the slew of instant matches wasn't anything they'd hire. They don't realize that the higher quality pros' responses came after they got disgusted and signed off! So then they think it's all crap and they never bother to open another email from TT and completely miss the higher quality bids. I was shocked to discover this today, so I immediately sent out dozens of follow up messages to people to tell them they never finished looking at their quotes! I doubt that I'll get any responses though, because as I said, they now initally only received junk and don't know the quality responses are there. It's been about 12 hours since I sent out quite a few dozen, and not a single response! So, Instant Match is killing the calibre of quality. Serious hands-on pros that understand the value of personal connections, just aren't being seen by the people putting in requests. Now they think TT only provides cheap low quality "pros" who aren't even real businesses. That's a MAJOR blow to TT and it will hit them hard in the wallet - as can be seen by TT now suddenly begging forgiveness and asking for help. But then again, I told TT a year ago that exactly all of this would happen. Hate to say, "I told you so.", but I did.
And back to the pros putting the price in the quotes, can we please have more options to explain what our price means, right there next to the price box? Please let us choose an option that puts text next to the price that states one of the following:"
"starting at $_______"
"average price $_______"
"from $_______ to $_______"
"need more information" (for those times where the request has impossibly conflicting info, and we can't yet determine a price)
This way the client knows that if its a small number, we're not a cheapo, it's just our starting point - or, if it's a bigger number, they're not scared off and can see that they should open the quote to get more info. Right now, they just go down the list and compare numbers, not knowing if those are solid numbers, starting points, or averages. If every quote says $200, that could mean a different thing each time! More quotes being opened means more opportunity to contact more pros and thus more $ in TT's pockets. For pros it means being seen, being properly compared and not just mistakely judged on just a meaningless number. This means more money for us and more money for TT through more happy visitors sending people to TT to put in more requests!
Thank you for finally listening to something!
One thing that very much confused me though, was referring to TT as a startup. It's a ten year old company. ???
Photography is LUXURY, not a commodity! TT's budget options priced photography as a commodity. Now they flip out because we all jump at a chance to bid on a job at our normal undiscounted TT rates, and accuse us of gouging??? When they themselves are now gouging us by tripling to quadroupling the fees we pay? I discount virtually every job by 50% - 75% to get it! I used to be able to bid $295 all day long on portrait and headshot sessons and get it. Although that's a discouted rate, it was still do-able because the average portrait client would spend $900 for the session and additional prints after. Now that I've been forced to cut even further, I'm only getting $150 -$195 for them, and even though they still spend extra on prints, because of the $150 loss on the initial fee, that $900 is now only $750. So, going from the old system to having to compete against 14 others, has cost me $9000 in pure profits this year.
So where is TT apologizing for the losses they've caused me? Where are they thanking me for sticking around and offering incredible deals to people that make them look like heroes? Instead, we're lambasted and accused of gouging because a rare opportunity to comes up to charge our normal rates and we do so?
That "waiter changing the prices" example was ridiculous! Prices are set in writing by the restaurant. People see the menu before they order, so they no exactly what they will be paying. If they sit down and open the menu and see the prices are not to their liking, they'll leave. I've done it myself. I've also walked into a restaurant I wasn't familiar with and asked to see the menu before sitting down. If I don't care for the dishes or the prices, I leave. The waiter doesn't change the prices on the menu because he sees a bulging wallet in someone's pants!
Yes, sometimes contractors will charge more in more expensive neighborhoods for the "same" work, but in the end, it's not usually the same work because the client in the high end neighborhood can be more demanding because they're used to buying the best and want the best quality. So, for example, if I were to hire a photographer, I'd be way more demanding than the average person, because I'm a pro and I know all the technical details of what makes a photograph good. A $25 an hour amateur is NOT going to cut it! From what I've seen, there are only 2 pros within a 50 mile radius of me that are producing excellent work, then there are some that nail it on some shots and bomb on the rest. That tells me that they can recognize when they're getting lucky, but they don't know enough to be able to cosistantly reproduce that calibre of work. The rest are just blatant amateurs and they should NOT be on TT trying to claim they're professionals.
I AM Amazed it seems this is the first time that TT actually listened to the Pros. It seems they are re-evaluating the no budget change for some catagories. They need to do the same for all catagories as they made this change for DJ's a long time ago. They listed a level of quality of service they were desireing instead. Nearly worthless info since customers have no idea what top level or even basic level of service actually typically cost. They need to also listen and change back to a more reasonable fee schedule for each bid given instead of the high price for often meaningless customer responses. Every Change TT has made in the past has been bad for Pro's. I'll be anxiously waiting to see if they actually fix this one.
One reason I have stayed with TT so long is that they have always had amazing customer service. For almost 9 years, I have worked directly with them and have had my feedback not only listened to put had it go towards actual policy change multiple times, the first time over 7 years ago.... This is by far not the first time they have listened and implemented change. The fact that they spent thousands upon thousands of dollars and hundreds of man hours to implement these changes and are still listening to us pros and reverting back speaks volumes to the resources that they are willing to commit to help us succeed and just how important our feedback is to them. I was vehemently against the new pricing at first. I spoke with them, got some more insight into the changes, received reassurances, and they all panned out. I am now saving hundreds a month with it and still holding strong with my bookings as well. After speaking with them about the no budget issue, I also received more insights into the reasoning that I didn't have before. I still don't really agree with it, but I at least understood the reasoning behind it and, while it isn't practical, it made sense. After explaining how my business works and other pros doing the same, they now understood our side and corrected course. Almost every change that TT makes has been to our benefit, because without us, they don't succeed either.
Actually, Chef Paul, this wasn't about them listening to us, it was about TT losing money because less people were responding to our quotes. What happened is that since we weren't forced to bid dirt cheap to meet the insande budgets, we started not putting in such despearate rates. This meant that people weren't receiving the severely discounted quotes - hence they realized that professional services were not in their budget.
TT's budget range options were 50% - 95% below real world pricing in photography. So, we'd put in a price that was severely discounted, as low as we could possibly go, in order to get the job. But now the client isn't seeing such artifically pushed low pricing. PHOTOGRAPHY IS A LUXURY, NOT A COMMODITY! Most people can't afford real professional photography.
Now, TT realized that if we start bidding higher, people leave without clicking and TT doesn't get paid. That's why the change. Taking away the budget option IS a good thing, because it enables us to bid real prices and get the customers that can afford our services. However, having to bid against 14 others, means we're still stuck in the desperately-needing-to-cut-prices-to-compete mode.
The only time TT will implement a suggestion is if it will directly put money in their pocket. No change has ever been for our advantage. If it were, instant match would have been scrapped 30 days in. Not only is it here to stay, now we are going from being pitted against 14 others, to being pitted against 29 others! When there were 5 bidders at $5 each, the most they could make on a request was $25. With 15 bidders at $15 each for the same job, there's a potential for $225. They'd be insane to make it better for us and give up the extra $200 potential for them. Hence the reason they don't pre-qualify the leads. Anyone can request any insane thing, and TT gets $ every time a question is asked. Why would they want to stop that?