I'm also using TT for Headshot clients, and had the same issue with the price of a succesful quote vs the return on low end clients. I decided to go with IM, but set my price at the higher level and ignore the low end requestors. Initially my volume of work dropped, naturally - but at least i wasn't wasting time and money chasing leads that weren't serious etc. I recently increased my "budget" for IM, and that seems to have brought the volume back (too soon to tell if that's a trend, or a blip). What I can definitely say is that this approach with IM gives me a much better ROI than any of the old methods did.
Exactly, @Bubba. In our line of work (plumbing), many times the customer responded to our bid (which we could customize at $0 saying we could not accurately quote without more information), but they did not know exactly what was involved with their project until we discussed the scope at length with them or met with them personally to view/evaluate the project in advance. Here's an example: Say the customer wants to replace their existing tub with a big Roman jacuzzi tub. They think it's as simple as pulling out the old tub and dropping in the new one. Nope. In most cases, it would require a partial or total replumb of that area of their bath (which may or may not require some demo, relocating drainage lines, water lines, etc.), could require permits be pulled, etc. and the cost would usually far exceed the customer's expectations and they'd change their minds and decide to wait on or scrap the project. OR... they would find out how much it was going to cost, and decide to go with the very lowest bidder (sometimes unlicensed workers). But, for us, having only spent "X" dollars on the bid (plus our time and effort), we'd just chalk it up and move on. As it stands now, the unknown cost (combined with our time and effort) is definitely not worth the risk of losing the project.
I was very pleased as well until I got charged $126 for one lead. My initial consultation only being $100, that was not good for me. I have also had some leads that weren't even in my area...like 5 hours away??? I have only been in business for 1 1/2 yrs. and can not take a hit like $126. Especially when all they ended up doing was shopping designers, getting ideas and then when I invoiced them for my hours....they vanished. Sixty days overdue.....haven't paid me.
Another lead said they weren't even looking for Interior Design.???
@Design4life WHOA! $126 for a "lead" that went nowhere. And TT will say the price was this high because it was a "quality" lead. Quality is not spending $126, losing time and not reaping a dime from this client. TT would not think we were "quality" clients if we were costing them money without paying them a dime. I wonder how many other pros they collected $126 from for this same client.
Let me explain to you what I loved and now hate about Thumbtack. When they first came on the scene, it was a brilliant concept putting service providers with professionals. It was an elegant interface, and they provided a much needed portal that allowed pro’s to get quality information to make an accurate quotes. We took our time to craft eloquent, informative quote templates. We fussed over our profile and made sure we linked all our social media to and from our Thumbtack profile. Once we had a request we kept the dialog open and responded quickly to the customers requests and questions. When we first started using Thumbtack we were getting 60% - 70% return on our quotes. Thumbtack was fundamental in our initial growth as a company. We went from 0 clients and one van, to 650 now pushing almost 1,000 clients and multiple vans and employees. We were Thumbtacks biggest fans, I told everyone about Thumbtack. I wanted to invest in your IPO like we did with Square. Then they made changes………
First they added “Conversation Starters” ( STILL IN EFFECT ) So after crafting a detailed fully inclusive quote that I labored to answer all possible questions, utilizing the maximum amount of characters your system would allow, we would get “What’s included ?” After fine tuning our pricing structure we would get “Do you offer discounts” as a response.
The next silly idea they need to end is their greatest failure; the calendar. This independent calendar which has no relationship to our actual calendar whatsoever is the most annoying and destructive feature they have implemented. It’s baffling to me that a tech company would not think this through and at the very least integrate google calendar into their standalone calendar. To give you an idea we currently have over 300 appointments a month, three groomers, multiple vans, with 1,000 clients that play musical chairs with our schedule. How would I possibly incorporate their insanely simplistic calendar into our work flow? To add insult to injury their company chose to “Suggest” fictitious dates and times to our potential customers. Worst of all you are making these calendar suggestions to client as if they are me. This is incredibly deceptive and causes potential customers to become angry and confused. I wasn’t even aware of this until a angry customer emailed me the screen shot I’ve attached. That is just unacceptable, and potentially damaging to our reputation. Lastly when we tried to circumvent the calendar by blocking out all dates, their algorithm no longer sent us anymore quotes. At this point we will be opening up appointments as they become available until this destructive calendar service is fixed or removed.
This is a screen shot sent to us from an understandibly upset potential customer after I said I never offered that date. I never did Thumbtack responded using my account AS ME !!!!! Very very shady IMHO
Our reputation honesty and interigity are all we have as small businesses this kind of deception jepordizes that.
Hi, all - very interesting perspectives shared! I signed up for Instant Match yesterday and I paused it today. I did this for four reasons:
So this morning, I went back to the original format of responding to quotes one by one. With this method, I feel that I have more control over how my services, profile, and proven work is presented. Especially now that they no longer charge when someone views the quote, there's nothing to lose. And I have control of who I choose to respond to.
Oh, and that screenshot upthread about the calendar and Thumbtack sending times - that's not cool at all. I'm usually booked out several weeks in advance. With no connection to my 'real' calendar, it's completely unrealistic and inaccurate. I hope Thumbtack reviews all of this feedback.
@RCPS Thank you so much for such a well thought out response to this discussion board. It is apparent that you are good at what you do and that your business matters to you. That is what I love most about my job - I get to interract with people just like me, who have taken risks and have started their own businesses. I understand deeply the amount of passion and grit that goes in to running your own business.
A couple of tips (If you'd like) - If you want to give Instant Match another try, I have seen a few things that have worked for other people:
1) You can try setting an hourly rate that is obviously not your price, like $1/hour - and then put pricing information in your profile. I have seen a lot of people do this - just explain within your intro or about you section, that you need to consult with them before giving them a price - or explain how your pricing works.
2) To your second thought - there is most definitely a link to your profile When a customer views a list of quotes, as soon as they click on it, it drives them to your profile. I have not only used Thumbtack as a professional, but I have used it several times as a customer, and I ALWAYS look at profiles before making any decision.
3) Make sure your travel preferences are set correctly - and if you are somehow still matched with someone who isn't within your travel preferences, you will not be charged for that... Be sure to use the "Report" button within a request if it isn't accurate!
I sincerely hope this helps. Best of luck!