When Mike Shaffer joined Thumbtack two years ago, the rest of his small painting franchise watched from the sidelines. 24 months and 900+ quotes later, every painter in Mike’s franchise is also a Thumbtack Pro. A veteran of the painting industry, Mike knows a lot about what makes a painter great—and as a Top Pro, he knows a lot about what makes a painter great on Thumbtack. We sat down to discuss strategies for winning business on Thumbtack, from follow-ups that seal the deal to drafting the perfect quote.
How did you get started on Thumbtack?
I’ve been on Thumbtack for over two years. My business is part of a small painting franchise, and I was the first one in the group to join. Of course, they all saw how well I did and created Thumbtack accounts!
When it comes to growing my business, I always have an eye out and I’m really happy to have found Thumbtack.
How has Thumbtack helped your business grow?
Thumbtack has helped me win a lot of new business. First of all, it’s really easy for customers to use.
Customers really research when they’re investing in big painting projects, and that serves me well. I have a professional profile and website, a lot of quality reviews, and a strong quote. I stand a really good chance of winning a job once I’m in front of the customer. And Thumbtack puts me in front of a lot of customers.
What do you suggest for people just getting started on Thumbtack?
Be persistent. We do well and we only get two out of every ten quotes we send. Know that ahead of time and don’t give up when you don’t win jobs.
Really try to impress your customer. Have a strong, well-written profile and good reviews. Your customers are savvy. They do their research and they want to know you have quality customer service. So when you show up to an in-person consultation you really need to blow them away.
A lot of people I work with joined Thumbtack and quit before really giving it a chance. It takes time to fully reap the rewards of Thumbtack, so be patient and keep at it.
Do you use the Thumbtack mobile app?
I’m checking Thumbtack on my phone all the time. Requests pop up when I’m doing estimates or when I’m on my way to a job. Especially during slow seasons, people jump on requests in minutes. Be prepared for these kind of fluctuations because they happen.
Any tips or secrets when it comes to asking for reviews?
I’m very particular when I ask for reviews. At the end of a job when I’m collecting payment, I stress how important reviews are for getting word out in the community. Even after following up, only seven out of ten will get around to writing reviews. But I would have zero reviews if I didn’t ask. So I always mention it at the end of the job in courteous way.
Reviews today are what references were ten years ago. Everyone reads online reviews now and customers are always shopping around for information. So I have to focus on putting my best foot forward every time they read about me.
How can people expand their business on Thumbtack?
If you have a great profile, you can win a lot of business on Thumbtack. Stay on top of your profile and quotes, and be attentive to requests. It doesn’t take much time to update your profile but you have to return to it over and over again to stay on top of it.
The more reviews you have on your page, the more customers will pick you for the job. It’s the single most important piece of your profile on Thumbtack.
Do you have any tips on what customers should be looking for when they’re hiring a pro on Thumbtack?
I really want to hammer home the point that customers should look to reviews. They should look for a pro’s work history and the number of reviews they’ve received in that time. There is a certain math to it. If they’ve been hired a ton and have no reviews that doesn’t make sense.
What’s the secret to sending the perfect quote?
I don’t give hourly rates in my quotes because job costs vary. I don’t want to give a verbal estimate only to show up and realize it’s double that. High grade sticker shock is bad all around. Instead, I talk about how important it is to give an accurate proposal. I ask to see what I’m working with. I provide a pricing scale. I try to earn the customer’s confidence before providing an estimate.
Do you have any tips when it comes to following up?
I’ve formulated a quick, informal reply with information about my services that I send the second I see a quote has been opened. I want to get to the customer before they have a chance to exit the screen.
What’s the key to being a Top Pro on Thumbtack?
Integrity, quality work, and customer service. They all matter equally and you need all three to be a Top Pro.
Do you have a favorite Thumbtack story?
Sometimes I’m hired to pick up jobs that other painters have walked out on. I call it a “rescue painter” situation. When you’re coming onto a job after a customer already feels wronged, you have to be so incredibly delicate.
The customer is already stressed. This horrible thing has happened to their home, their most prized possession. The customer is as much of a project as the project itself. If you deliver a really great experience you’re in a position to restore a customer’s faith in the profession. It’s a prized position to be in.
[Photos via Mike Shaffer]