Just a few years ago, Fred Heath was working as a loan officer. But going to the same office day after day was wearing him down. He wanted freedom. He wanted flexibility. He wanted to be in charge of his own destiny. So he came up with a plan to revitalize Bravo Professional Contractors, his Charlotte, North Carolina painting business that he’d let lapse. Not long after, he found Thumbtack. Immediately, the “phone started ringing,” the jobs started coming in… and they never stopped. Fred hasn’t looked back since.
We caught up with Fred to learn how he re-invigorated his business using Thumbtack, as well as his tips for other pros who want to do the same.
What’s the most critical element to succeeding on Thumbtack?
Communicating in an excellent way from start to finish is critical. Your responses need to be professional. You need to address the customer, thank them for the opportunity, direct them to look at your reviews, and provide reference points.
Industry and product knowledge is also important. You need to know what you’re talking about and doing, so that the customer feels confident hiring you.
What are your top tips for expanding your business on Thumbtack?
Response time is key. I try to respond to each lead within five to 10 minutes.
Customer service is also important. I don’t just respond with the quote. I address the customer by name. I thank them for allowing me to bid on their project. I ask them to look at my reviews. And then I have them do a little homework so they’re invested. I ask them to provide their contact information and property address, so a more accurate quote may be given. I also provide some form of discount, like a military discount. The last piece is to leave my signature, which includes my company name, my name, my title, my email, and my phone number.
Detailed customer service is really at the root of it all.
Any tips for writing winning quotes on Thumbtack for other painters?
I always tell my clients that I provide a free onsite consultation so that a more accurate quote may be given. I have to see the property and go room by room because there are different angles, amount of doors and windows, height variations, or you may be working around furniture… There’s no “one size fits all” for a painting project; it’s always a case-by-case basis.
I let them know that I provide free onsite consultations because in order for them to get a fair market price, I need to see the property. I give a general price based on the information that’s provided, but I always tell them in my message that I will give a firm quote once I see it in person.
What are your best tips for getting reviews on Thumbtack from customers?
If the customer hasn’t noted me as hired, I select that I’ve been hired when I’m finished with the project and pick a date for them to leave a review, usually that same day. If they haven’t left a review in a couple of days, I’ll shoot them an email with the link.
In the email, I thank them once again for the opportunity to service their project and I ask them to please take a moment to leave an outstanding review based on the excellent service we provided. I go ahead and assume that they agree with that because if they didn’t like the job, you would know. And then I tell them it would mean so much and I would really appreciate it.
What advice do you have for creating a great profile?
I have a professional looking logo, I show that I have a large number of painters available, that I’ve been in business for 14 years, and have completed the background check. I also provide professional answers to the questions Thumbtack asked and link to my website.
Of course I also have tons of before and after pictures of jobs I’ve done, so people can see the quality of our work.
What do you wish you had known when you first started using Thumbtack?
I wish I’d known I could add video to my profile. It allows customers to have a better visual understanding of what goes into the job and to see the quality of work. When they see the team working on projects and the stages of prepping the floor, protecting their home, and everything that leads up to the “after” picture, they understand how much goes into getting the results that they want.
How much has Thumbtack grown your business to date?
From year one to year two, we tripled in business and then from year two to three, we increased another 35 percent. Right now, Thumbtack is responsible for about 80 to 85 percent of my business.
When I started, I had five painters. Now, I have 17 painters, including three project leads and one operations manager. That all happened within a year and a half.
What has Thumbtack let you do that you wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise?
I was a loan officer, but I wanted to walk away from corporate America because I didn’t like being stuck in an office all day long. I wanted to be an entrepreneur and have freedom of time and the ability to make as much money as I wanted. So I started selling insurance.
My goal was to sell insurance to supplement my income while I was rebranding my painting business because it was dormant. Then I found Thumbtack and the phone just kept ringing, so for the last three years, I haven’t even had time to sell insurance.
I have 17 painters now, so I don’t paint anymore. That means that I have more free time, so I can focus on managing and growing the business by building partnerships with property management companies, investors, real estate agents, and general contractors.
[Photo via Fred Heath]