when I started using Thumbtack as a searcher you might have not many options. When I started using it as a professional then discovered you need to pay to be contacted, and every zip code or area is different. for me is a red flag to charge variable rates. I dont know the quality of the lead. A prospect can be just curious asking as many does and pay $25 for that type of lead doesnt makes sense. If You charge $300 or $500 might as well anyone pay their own Google or FAcebook ads and receive more for their bucks.
I know you have something good in hand and trying to find a solution. You need to provide value as many apps have done. I can get a Lead prospect in Craigslist or facebook for free, at the same time I know if I pay I will get more.
You need to provide good value both ways. Simply as people wants to be where people is.
as right now your pricing and strategy is not very good to the users only for thumbtack -
My biggest complaints on the current charging paradigm are twofold: when prospects respond to follow ups with "I have already chosen another professional" and when I am charged for the contact from a perspective client for me when they cannot be a client. In the latter, it is almost always because they want me to take their insurance and I don't take insurance. So here are some suggestions.
It would be great if prospective customers for my professional services, psychotherapist, had to check a box in their request form that says whether they planned to use insurance for the work they are requesting. Then in my profile I could say I do not take insurance and your software would make it that I wouldn't see these folks requests.
As for prospects already having chosen someone else, maybe you could remove them from my sent file, or make them as already engaged or pending engagement once they contact another professional. It seems you are double dipping, getting paid twice or more, when the prospect contacts multiple professionals. How about managing the software so prospects can contact one pro at a time and mark them as hired or not, and then if they are still looking they can contact the next one.
Thanks for asking for feedback,