Garrett Hurlbut’s residential and commercial painting company, A Perfect Finish, was doing pretty well a year and a half ago, but there were times during the year when business was a little slow, so he decided to join Thumbtack to see if that would help. Now, almost half of A Perfect Finish’s jobs come from Thumbtack. Even better, that growth pushed Garrett to expand his company in the way he’d always wanted and help set his employees up for success. Read on to learn Garrett’s tips and tricks for using Thumbtack to win business and thrive in a competitive market.
How did you discover Thumbtack?
I’ve always gotten my leads through word of mouth and contractors, like real estate agents, general contractors, and exterior restoration companies. But in the down season, between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, I usually had a long lull where I just couldn’t get anyone in the door, so I was looking for a way to create more interest. That’s when my friend who owns JanCarp Cleaning Services told me about Thumbtack and I’ve been religiously using it ever since.
What’s been the key to your success as a Thumbtack Top Pro?
Being consistent, using Thumbtack regularly, and responding promptly to people’s inquiries really helps differentiate your success from the masses. You’ve got to show up all of the time and respond quickly. For me, that means turning on notifications. As soon as I hear my phone ding, I reach out immediately because I think as long as you can get in within those first five quotes, you’ve got a fighting chance.
The mobile app is key because I’m always on the go. I turn on those notifications and in between jobs or at lunch I can open up a notification and send a quick quote and be on with my day.
What do you wish you had known when you first started?
Other than wishing I’d known about Thumbtack sooner, I wish I’d known I could send a follow up message. For the first seven months, I just sent that initial quote and, as a result, there were a lot of opportunities I missed.
People’s lives get busy and you need to encourage them to follow through. If someone is just scanning the internet and inquiring about a project, but they’re not certain they want to move forward with it, you can send that follow-up message and greatly improve your odds of getting hired.
In addition to that, I wish I had marked myself as “hired” more in those first few months. I’ve tried to make a good habit out of doing in the recent past so that I’m getting the credit and showing potential clients that I’ve been hired. I think that makes them feel more confident moving forward.
How much of your work is from Thumbtack?
About 45 percent of my work now is from Thumbtack, which is tremendous because before Thumbtack, only 10 to 15 percent of my private clients were through word of mouth. The bulk majority of my business was through contractors and realtors. And it’s not that I’m doing any less of business from those people; I’m just doing so much more through Thumbtack.
I’ve been using it over 14 months right now and in the last year, it’s supplemented my gross volume by nearly $120,000 and that’s in addition to my residual clients and contracts that I have so in addition to that $120K that I’ve grossed from Thumbtack, I’ve also gotten new clients and have been back to those clients homes, so it’s really been phenomenal for me and my business.
What are your best tips for getting reviews on Thumbtack from customers?
Assuming your work deserves it, you should encourage your clients to give you good reviews. Try to be as considerate as possible. Put yourself in their shoes. What would you want out of a contractor you’re hoping to do business with? Then just provide high quality work and communicate really well.
Sometimes I do try to plant the seed and say, “If you feel happy with the work we’ve done and you think we did a tremendous job that’s worthy of a positive review, it would mean a lot if you’d be willing to drop a quick note on Thumbtack.”
Also, be sure to you mark yourself as hired because they get a notification and from there, hopefully they feel inclined to write a review.
What goes into creating a great profile?
I think the more information you have on there, the more successful you’ll be. Answer all of the questions, include high-quality pictures, and then try to be as charming and charismatic in your content as you can be. People want to feel good about who you and your company are and what kind of experience they’re going to have, and I think they’ll make that decision based on what they read about you in your profile.
Any tips for writing winning quotes?
I think when people try to put a hard number based on the information the person has provided, it can drive that potential client away because they’re not being diligent enough. I try to be general if I’m going to give a price and say that I’d prefer to see the job in person to provide a more firm, concrete number, and that I’d love the opportunity to shake their hand and meet them face to face. That’s something people really appreciate. Meeting them in person gives me a better opportunity to sell and instill confidence in them by asking questions and being more interpersonal.
We just started a job and the lady told me that of the five inquiries, I was the only one who refused to give a price over Thumbtack and told her I needed to come see it in person. She said because of that I won the business even though I wasn’t the lowest bid.
Do you follow up as soon as you’ve received a notification that a lead has viewed your quote?
I do now. That’s something I am thankful is a feature because as soon as I started doing the follow up messages, my success and closing rates skyrocketed.
I want my initial quote to be quick and efficient to make sure I get into those first five quotes. Then, with my follow-up, I greet them, ask about their schedule, inquire when would be a great time to come out and get eyes on the site. That’s also when I tell them “I appreciate the opportunity to earn your business” and give them a little more personal detail. That sparks the conversation and hopefully from there you can turn them into a client.
That’s something not a lot of contractors take the time to do, so following up makes me look that much better.
What is one of your favorite jobs you got through Thumbtack?
Right when I started using Thumbtack, I had a client who was slowly renovating his family house himself and didn’t like to paint. It started out with us painting newly installed baseboard on the main level of his home, but he liked the work we did so much that we ended up painting his whole house top to bottom on the inside and then coming back in the summer to paint the outside. We spent so much time there that now I know his family and his dog.
It’s clients like that that fill your heart and make what you do have more passion. He’s been a tremendous customer. We did such a good job with his house that he referred me to his wife’s property management company and we’re now their number one painting contractor. It’s turned into a whole network of referrals.
Painting is personal; you’re in these people’s home and you’re kind of obstructing their world. You see their daily habits and their family dynamics and more often than not you end up with a pretty good relationship with them. Thumbtack allows me the opportunity to get into the homeowner market and allow those kind of relationships to blossom, otherwise I’d just be doing new construction, remodel, insurance claims, and the type of work where you don’t get to see people.
It’s nice to mix it up and get to a new job, see new faces, and meet people. Hopefully they’re happy with the work you do when it’s all said and done, which gives you a little more purpose and pride in your work.
Any advice for other painting companies using Thumbtack?
I think since painters know the person is getting five quotes, they have a tendency to underbid to be more aggressive and competitive, so I would say: don’t sell yourself short.
I think you should spend more time trying to differentiate yourself and sell them on quality and customer service rather than just being the bottom bid. I’m never going to be the three bids low bid winner—that’s not my target market. I want people who want to pay for good quality jobs, so that’s exactly what I would try to provide. So I would say:
Don’t sell yourself short. Take pride in your work. Let your reputation and your Thumbtack profile proceed you.
Most of all: Don’t give up on Thumbtack because the results are tenfold.
What has Thumbtack let you do that you wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise?
Thumbtack has allowed me to fast track my project managers to come with me to the sales to see how I lead a customer through the whole process. That way, the customer is familiar with their face so when we launch the job, my project manager is on site while I go on and sell more jobs. That’s given me the opportunity to grow my company and my employees from laborers all the way up to project managers and beyond. Now I’m excited to see what else we can grow this thing into.
When I started this company, I was in the one who sold the jobs, performed the work, and handled the invoicing and accounting and marketing. I carried all of the responsibilities. But because of the volume of work that Thumbtack provides, it’s forced me into a new role, which is ultimately the direction I’ve always wanted to go. It’s been a huge blessing that way.
[Photos via A Perfect Finish]