Michael Himelfarb is passionate about fighting mold. His company, Global Prevention Services, has successfully completed 9,400 projects, including mold prevention and removal, flood restoration, and home remodels. His business operates out of Portland, Scottsdale, AZ, Georgia, and Southern Florida. For every 20 jobs they contract each week, at least one is sourced from Thumbtack. Here’s how he built his 17 person interstate company and became a highly successful Top Pro on Thumbtack.
Tell us about your business…
We’re quite unusual. We got into the business 13 years ago to provide a different solution. I was seeing people who were put into stressful situations from mold with not enough insurance money to cover issues, seeing people lose homes, and also seeing people being taken advantage of by contractors who were either incompetent or just out to make money. They were marginal operators. I was retired, but I started this company to help people. I teamed with contractors and we created the Pure Space product line and process for prevention and remediation of mold problems. I’m proud of what we do, and our customers love our system and our approach.
How did you get started on Thumbtack?
We tried it many years ago and we weren’t prepared. Thumbtack has also matured since then. Before, we were spending money and weren’t getting back the leads we wanted. Around a year and a half ago I decided to come back. I’m the owner of the company, and I also manage the Thumbtack account. Since rejoining, we’ve gotten thousands of leads from Thumbtack.
Has Thumbtack helped your business grow?
Oh sure, sure it has. We have clients now that we didn’t have before. I’ve gotten thousands of leads over the last year. I even follow up with clients who chose other contractors and shared our information. Because of how ineffective most mold solutions are, I just let them know how our product and process for mold removal works and if the company they selected doesn’t work out, then we’ll be happy to help. I’ve gotten great leads from that—unfortunately because so many contractors aren’t able to solve their mold problems.
You have 17 employees…any tips for other business owners on using Thumbtack jobs throughout the company?
I manage the Thumbtack account. When someone calls us, that customer automatically goes into our normal management system. From there we send someone out to do an estimate. We like to give a specific quote, and we focus on no change orders down the line unless they’re requested by the customer. So, even though they’re from Thumbtack, they go into the same system as all our clients. We haven’t had a situation where we couldn’t help a Thumbtack customer.
How do you handle quoting?
You have to be fast with mold requests. There is so much competition. Taking more than 30 seconds to respond is too long. In the Scottsdale area, where I’m based, there are 140 other competitors for mold.
I’ve created email templates for our most common requests for help. This way I have a prepared email that speaks directly to the customer’s need and includes the three attachments I think are important: Our Best of Thumbtack award, our list of services, and our licenses, insurance information, and qualifications. It doesn’t take long to prepare, just have it ready to go.
What’s the key to success when using Thumbtack?
Responding quickly is key. By the second or third call for estimates, the customer is ready to quit researching and just make a choice. Whenever a customer responds to our email with a phone number, we call them.
The quality of the message is also important. Our templates speak to each of our services. Explain how you can solve their problem.
Do a good job. We have a warranty, so we are ensuring our good work. We’ve completed 9,400 jobs now and all those customers have been satisfied.
Any tips for newcomers?
If you’re not having the best of luck, hang in there. You could have a multi-thousand dollar job from a $20 lead. Recently, I’ve had about 10 requests to build homes. From connecting with the right hit, you can have a multi-thousand dollar job as a result. We don’t build homes, so if you’re a home builder—get on here.
Read the materials Thumbtack has created on how to deal with customers. There are good suggestions.
Write back to the customer in a message that speaks to what they’re looking for (or you’ll lose them).
Do you use the Thumbtack mobile app?
I’m on it all the time. If it’s mold or water damage, I have no choice, because they’re gone in one minute. It’s not about the money, I want to help people affected by mold. If someone else bids them first, they may end up with even more troubles. One example was a couple who was quoted $50,000 to eliminate their mold. The contractor completely tore up the house, but it didn’t solve the problem (the contractor had done false testing) and the gentleman’s health deteriorated so much he had to see a specialist in another state. Everyone on the block knew they had a mold problem, so that makes the house unsaleable or at least stigmatized. We went in after and solved the problem for $5,400. Always make sure you use an independent third party to test for the mold. The new mobile templates are also a great new feature.
What other marketing tools do you use?
We have a website, a blog, and a full-time social media person. We are always putting out articles about mold…we are always trying to educate the public about what a health risk mold poses and how the solution can be simple and not so expensive.
What’s been one of your favorite gigs as a result of Thumbtack?
We received a multi-thousand dollar contract from an HOA that had had a terrible experience with a bad contractor. They were super sensitive to finding a partner they could trust. We were that partner. That lead turned into many hundreds of thousands of dollars in terms of scale. It was a success in terms of scope, but it was also a success because these were extremely nice people who had been ripped off, and were now being treated well.
Another really cool project was a guy who wanted a wood-ceilinged patio. We cut and stained all-natural, 100 percent hardwood, and installed it on the ceiling of his 200 square foot patio. We used only tongue and groove construction, avoiding any engineered glues or chemicals. It was improbable this would work, but it looks great.
[Photo via Michael Himelfarb/Global Prevention Services]