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Thumbtack; Waste of time and money or a goldmine of leads?

29766423914_2770bf0098_zMention Thumbtack to a photo booth owner and you may see them find the nearest wall and bang their head against it.  Just do a search for Thumbtack in the popular Facebook group, Photo Booth Network (if you’re not already a member, join ASAP) and you’ll find a treasure trove of complaints and screenshots of ridiculous requests from potential customers, usually in the form of extremely low budgets.

Needless to say, Thumbtack is not the most popular website for professional photo booth business owners.  In fact, plenty of photo booth owners refer to the site as scam and a con.  The majority of the complaints about the site are centered around the bid and credit system, the low numbers of seemingly serious clients searching to hire through the site and the way that Thumbtack often changes their platform and rules of the game.  Many Thumbtack users do not have their finger on the pulse of how much a photo booth rental costs from a legitimate company.

How does the site work?

Join the site as  Pro and enter all of your business’ information, it is a really simple on-boarding process.

The wedding planning section of the site includes a Photography section as well as a separate Photo Booth Rental tab so you may be able to generate leads from both tabs, increasing your odds of landing a job and potentially a new long-term client.

The bid and credit system is a little difficult to navigate but it makes sense if you are using the site to supplement your regular business rather than as your singular advertising platform. Customers fill out a questionnaire concerning their needs, budget, etc; Thumbtack will then send you a notification and information about the potential client. It is now up to you to choose if you would like to bid on the job; there is no cost until you decide to send a bid so be careful how you bid: check out the client’s budget, look for the marks of a scam (i.e. if the quote request is sent in the wee morning hours, if there are multiple misspellings or grammatical errors, or if the budget is ridiculously high or low), and be sure that the date of the event is not too far in advance.

When you find a request you are interested in bidding on, you will need to purchase credits. Each bid sent will cost a number of credits, at $1.67 each (this is likely to change anytime). The number of credits due for each bid is determined by a number of factors: the value of the job being requested and the number of available professionals in your area who have quoted on similar requests. Essentially, a bigger bid will cost you more credits.

So is the site a complete waste of time and money or is it a goldmine of leads?

In short, the answer is neither.  The site does have the ability to generate a number of leads in a short amount of time.  While there are certainly off-putting aspects to Thumbtack, there are also advantages. You can use the client requests to gauge what clients in your area are looking for: enclosed booth, open air, social media sharing, etc. If you are expanding your photo booth services to a new market, Thumbtack could give you a glimpse into the client needs in the area. It may be worth a minimal investment to see if the site will work for you.

Patrick Dunaway owner of The Firehouse DJs , has found some success with Thumbtack and shared this with us:
“There is much debate about Thumbtack, and if it is a scam, or if it actually works.  I started using the site for my DJ business, and incorporated the photo booth side of my business about a year later. There are many people looking to get something for next to nothing, so don’t bid on those. If you charge $800 for 4 hours for a basic photo booth, and their budget is $300, you obviously aren’t going to bid on that. Typically, if your package is only $100-$200 more expensive than their budget, bid on it. You have to be picky. Occasionally, maybe throw in a social media kiosk for free add it doesn’t cost much to operate. Throw in a perk.  It won’t kill you. There are those requests that are high prices, those will go quickly as only five people can bid on each quote.  Add the app to your phone, get text messages, whatever you can to keep up.  Also open up your travel distances if you usually only travel 20 miles, expand it to 30.”

Nicole Fey, owner of Photo Events by Nicole, had this to say about Thumbtack:
“I have been using Thumbtack regularly for close to 7 months and it has been a contributor to over 75% of my business. I have found that staying consistent with personal, value-driven quotes and following up with each and every lead whether they accept my bid or not is what keeps me competitive.  I offer the service and the experience, not just the cost, to try and grab the client’s interest right off the bat. I also have the app on my phone and iPad and try to answer leads as soon as they come in; sometimes late at night or early in the morning. Whatever it takes. Speed is key on Thumbtack. I certainly don’t win them all, not even close, but Thumbtack has consistently provided me with quality leads which have converted to loyal clients in many circumstances. It works for me.”

Like every platform, you need to test it in your local area.  I think it is worth it to drop $100 in credits, bid carefully and see what happens.   A little bit of a risk could payoff through Thumbtack but you will need to be a careful and conscientious bidder.

Thumbtack Quick Tips.

  1. Speed is key; get the app on your phone.
  2. Watch out for scam requests. Avoid those that come in at odd hours, or you think you’ve seen prior.
  3. Don’t bother bidding on low budget requests, or those desiring “exposure.”
  4. Personal, value driven quotes, with follow-up.
  5. Use it to test a new market.
  6. Educate potential clients on the photo booth business.

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{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Kathy Vernon October 25, 2016, 11:50 pm

    Thanks!

  • Martin Rutledge April 16, 2017, 8:37 pm

    Wondering where “scam requests” come from? Could it be Thumbtack trying to generate perceived interest. I often have this impression of Yelp

    • Chris May 12, 2017, 6:02 am

      Could be Thumbtack or Yelp. Depends where you have your site listed.

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