Just wanted to note that this change was 100%, absolutely and completely based on pro feedback and had nothing to do with any change in revenue. Part of my job is to listen closely to the pro community and flag when changes to the product aren't working. When folks started speaking up here about the customer budget question and how important it was to their business, we raised it to the appropriate teams, including Michelle's. That's why the change was made.
You are welcome to believe whatever you'd like. But the truth is that this had everything to do with wanting to do right by you all, and nothing to do with any supposed decrease in revenue. And it wouldn't have happened if many of the pros here hadn't spoken up and offered constructive, productive feedback focused on finding solutions.
Then how come it's been 10 months of everyone freaking out about the new system, the tripling and quadroupling of the prices, instant match, and having to bid against 14 others instead of a maximum of 5, and nothing has been done about that? Plus, it took 9 months to get them to reveal the price to bid. People have been masively suffering all year and many have left because of the changes. Still these things haven't been changed.
The following quote was downright insulting to all of us: "A lot of pros quoted higher prices for the same services if they saw a higher budget." The fact is that if I normally charge $395 for a session and the budget says $100-150, I'm forced to do it for $150, which is over a 60% discount. When the budget ranges to $200, I quote $195, which is still 50% off my normal pricing. When their budget goes to $300, I quote $295 which is a 25% discount. On the rare rare rare occasion that their budget goes upt to $500, I quote $395... my normal price. TT isn't complaining when I'm losing money on a job, but when I get an actual opportunity to decrease the discount, that's a problem and I'm lambasted for it??? This entire year, because of the new system and the tripling of the competion for each job, I've had to cut sessions fees drastically and I'm down $9000 this year due to lost session fees and severe discounting to compete against 14 others instead of 2-5.
Re: "Customers with a higher budget sometimes seem more serious." We are not ignorant enough to believe that the amount of their budget determine seriousness. The amount only determines the realistic ability for the pro to perform the job. Susie might be eager and seriously looking to book a session for $75. A real pro can't do it for that, no matter how serious she is. Then, on the other end of the spectrum is the person who puts in a high budget, because they aren't serious enough to release that money from their hands. There's also the teenage model wanna-bees that come on with a big budget and Mommy says no way! And you can't tell me that they're not minors because I have a number of them that I've done the job for - of course I can legally only contract with the parent. But most of the model headshots requests come from undearge girls breaking TT's TOS, but we're charged anyway. Then there are the ones for sweet 16 parties and they say it's their party. So minors are on TT all the time and we get stuck paying for them because we don't have written proof that they are minors when we find out through a telephone conversation.
TT will never give the pro the benefit of the doubt when it comes to a refund. 90% of the refunds I request are rejected, and any level headed human would agree that I should not be charged in that situation. It's always a "no" followed by the reading of refund terms.
When have we pros EVER been rewarded by TT? Bonused for being a Top Pro year after year. Given a gift for reaching 100 hires, 200 hires... 300 hires? Surprised with thank-you credits for getting over 1005-star reviews, all from within TT?
So, getting back to the issue of no budgets... today I saw a request come through with a stated budget!!! Yay!!! Her budget was $300 for a session. Had she not said that, it would have been another I quoted at the losing price of $150. At that price, I do not make any money unless they order extra prints, books, albums, or wall art. Now I got to bid on a job that actually has some small profit in it. Problem now is that only 2 requests came through all day! ??? What happened to the lead feed?
Jason . . . so what you are saying is that Thumbtack changed these things 100% absolutely and completely based on pro feedback? Serious? So what you are saying is that pros wanted the following changes:
1. Increase the number of quotes allowed to customer (customer has more to choose from - more likely to pick someone)
2. Created Instant Match (insures that customer gets the most amount of quotes possible right away - no waiting-satisfies our configuration that customers are leaving)
3. Allows for 10 Instant Matches immediatley and only 5 personal (satisfies those who may not want Instant Match?)
4. Triple the cost to quote (because now customer is more likely to hire you so its a greater value - ??? so it wasnt before? How does increase in number of quotes make me more likely to contacted let alone hired? . Because I am being Intantly Matched? Well what if I don't use Instant Match - should my cost be lower? Instantly Matched without a budget? not possible )
5. Removing the customers budget range. (without customer having to put in budget - Instant Match can send out quotes to any request regardless of budget. It allows for no ranges so customers for sure will get responses.) This helps me? Someone who wants to spend only $25hr for professional photographer I will be Instantly Matched with? They contact me I have to pay? They want $25 an hour - 2 hour job - and the cost to quote is $20.83 ???
These are the changes that were made because PROs were complaining and these are the actions that TT took to help the pros is what you are saying. I have read all the reasons why TT made these changes and why . . . . never has TT claimed it was 100% for us pros. Over and over I have read comments and even hear Marco say to me direcly a lot was based on customers leaving TT. The one that stood out the most was "too many customers were leaving TT dissatisfied because no responses to their request and disatisfied because prices to high. I am sure there were complaints from Pros as well however, I can not believe that any pro out there really thinks that any of the 5 points I made above are for their beniefit.
(also recently learned that not only does TT send Instant Matches - but also sends "recommendations" in the responding email to customer. Even more pros names given them before they get the Instant Matches)
These are the 5 significant changes that have been made several months ago and not one of them has proven to be a good thing for me at least. A successful Top Pro for 4 years. And I have reached out to others to learn of the dissatisfaction of Top Pros. I attended the Los Angeles gathering where I learned first hand of the unhappy pros - 95% of those in the room unhappy. I have spoken to Top Pros from your "success stories" directly. Articles on your sight now. Articles written over a year ago touting how great Instant Match is - however - they all are disappointed and/or unhappy now. I have spoken to pros that I have met in my local market - not happy. I read the post here . . . unhappy pros.
Recently I needed drone service and requsted quotes from TT - because I couldnt select a budget I wrote it in the body of the message. Only needed for 10 minutes and would pay $40. I was intantly matched with a $250 quote - that should have never been sent to me. And one personal response - with a personal note - who quoted $40.
I am sorry Jason, but I can not believe that these changes were made 100% based on pro feedback and to the benifet to us pro as you say.
Yes, they say that people leave because prices are too high. No, it couldn't possibly be that the person had no sense in reality of the cost of the project! People shop for all sorts of things every day. Sometimes they find out that it costs much more than they thought, so they don't make a purchase. If someone goes to the Target website to buy something, but they don't, because its more than they want to spend, does Target drop their price below cost to make it affordable??? NO business can survive by selling it's product below the cost to produce the product. Yet, on a regular basis, I am doing work at a pay rate of $1 - $5 an hour, in the hopes that after their session, they'll make a purchase larger than what their initial package (sold at a break even or actually at a loss). As a real business, the 1st $150-200 of every client, just covers my overhead. So, when I'm forced to give my $395 packages for $150 or $195, it's initially a loser. I'll put 15-20 hours into that job. So, at $150 I'm just paying my overhead bills without being paid for my time at all! At $195, I'm covering my overhead and being paid $1.58 an hour for my time, and zero profit. At a sales price of $295, I'm netting $5.07 an hours, still half of minimum wage, and still no profit. Even at my full price of $395, I'm only making $12.25 an hour, so I've broken minimum wage, but that still has me netting only $8.57 an hour - but now I rarely ever get to charge $395 for the session because of being forced to bid low in the new system.
So, if they don't buy extra, I'm not ven making minimum wage - yet TT is lambasting pros for charging more when the person's budget is higher? Yup, you caught me gouging them with rates less than minumum wage!!!
So, they're testing the option for the person putting in their own budget range, without being tainted by the old ridiculous pre-set ranges that have nothing to do with the price of photography. Excellent! I love it! It enabled me to put in a bid of $295 for a person who stated they had a $300 budget - where all year I've been forced to bid these at $150 or $195. It also enabled me to pass on a request for a newborn session with a budget of $40. Get a coupon and go to Penny's! You cannot get professional photography for that price - period! Next! Guess what TT! YOU CANNOT SERVE 100% OF THE PEOPLE!!!! CAN'T HAPPEN! NEVER WILL! YOU CANNOT BE ALL THINGS TO ALL PEOPLE!!! This person cannot afford, or does not want to pay professional photography rates. Period. That does not mean that we should be duped into bidding on an impossible job!
So, thank you for putting in the option for people to enter an unbiased budget range!!! This enables me to make a custom package for every reasonable request. I'm all about quality over quantity. I'd rather provide a person one gorgeous portait on the wall, than have them go to an amateur wanna-be who will give them 500 unusabale snapshots on a disc that will never see the light of day, for 50 bucks. PLEASE KEEP THIS BUDGET QUESTION IN ITS NEW FORM!!! PLEASE KEEP THIS BUDGET QUESTION IN ITS NEW FORM!!! PLEASE KEEP THIS BUDGET QUESTION IN ITS NEW FORM!!! PLEASE KEEP THIS BUDGET QUESTION IN ITS NEW FORM!!! It allows real professionals to create custom packages that work for the client, and will keep us bidding all day long, and actually being hired all day long! That means a flood of money in TTs pocket because each client will have severa realistic options to choose from, hire, and then talk about it with their friends!
I'm not sure which message you're referring to. TT is experimenting now and I see things coming through with the ability for the client to write in their budget price. I was also trying to go through the process as a client, to see what the client was experiencing, and I saw too that there was indeed a spot to write in the budget number - however, it was left as optional, where it should be required.
I had absolutely NO intent of submitting the request. I just wanted to see how the process changed for the user. I shut it down without submitting an actual request. I then received a reprimand email from TT telling me I wasn't allowed to submit for my own line of work. I did NOT submit. So, apparently they are tracking our usage on the site. I do NOT understand why they would not want us to see what the user expereince is! You should ALWAYS be aware of your client experince to understand their journey!!! Yet I was reprimanded for educating myself!
The changes TT is making clearly aren't working for the majority of Pros, apparently across most occupations and business types. I'm certainly not seeing many positive responses. In the years I've been using TT, it's gone from a fresh new business model that worked for Pros but maybe needed tweaking, to a hulking mess that's not really any different from any other company that sells leads by the bucketfull without regard to actual value.
This customer budget stuff was doomed from the start, for the reasons Michelle states. What's needed, in my not at all humble opinion, is that the customers need to better (read fully) describe what it is they're looking for. I've asked several times in the past for this to happen, but nothing changed.
I'm a custom cabinetmaker. TT is not my only, or even primary, source of jobs. But it is valuable to me, although not so much right now. I do high end work and I'm not cheap. And I'm pretty specific about what I will and won't do.
I've been doing this long enough that I can weed out the obvious tire-kickers, but the TT vetting process isn't nearly adequate to ensure that Pros and clients are good matches. And it seems like that's the major problem that TT is trying to solve, AND the major complaint from Pros.
So, Thumbtack, if I'm right, and this is the major obstacle we're all facing, here's a potential solution:
Select a few Pros from each trade, profession, category, whatever, for which you offer matching services. Put them together and let them design a questionaire for the client to fill out. It doesn't have to be a big, daunting thing that scares people off, but it can be something that makes the client actually think about what he wants while chasing away the looky-loos that no one wants to have to pay for. I know what data I need in order to be able to make an informed decision about whether I want to work with someone, and I'd bet every Pro here is the same way.
All of you TT employees are good at what you do, but you're not good at what we do. So utilize us to fix this mess. And honestly, you'd better do something fast, because based on the mostly negative feedback I'm seeing,
Comparing customer's requests in 2018 & 2017
- Customer's budget vary from $ 20 per person to $ 100 per person.
- If I don't know what their budget is, I have to answer all requests to make sure that I do not miss any. The stock TT answer is "sounds
good . Now what ?
When I answer to these customers I am charged a fee , even if they confuse catering with personal chef in their home - which has happened twice in the last month
- I am now reduced to "profiling " the requests if they are not in my price range : I systematically do not send quotes to :
basic ingredients , american casual, brunch/ dinner party ( it is either a brunch or a dinner) !! & several times per week with a budget for hamburgers or Mac & cheese or spaghetti.
I do not believe that the NO budget info leads to pros jacking up their normal prices. Customers can read the reviews & decide on their own...
I realize that TT's only source of revenue comes from the pros, & I think that Thumbtack should make their changes more pro friendly, & should consult with us about changes.
@jdpage @hoosierok @TTP @Candi @mm @ChefPaulStaley @silverlinevideo @ChefZacki @Vensent @g_yurk @emcphoto @Chefnikki @JohnGoerner @PSPhotography @HansenJC @CappellaPhoto
First, I want to thank you for all of the insight and feedback you have brought to this conversation about removing the budget question. We listened and have some good news! If you haven't already, make sure you check out Michelle's recent post here for an update on this.
Thank you so much for being open and listening to our feedback! It was such a pleasure to speak with your team and it is a great feeling knowing that our voices are still being heard! I know that this is a completely voluntary platform and we certainly aren't obligated to use your service/product, but I have come to depend on the partnership that I have developed with Thumbtack over the past 9 years and it is nice to see that it is still viewed as a partnership on your end as well.