Jacob and Jennifer Kendrick of J.N.J. Home Works jumpstarted their new business with Thumbtack, initially sourcing 90 percent of jobs from the site. They’ve grown quickly since 2015, and now 65 percent of their work comes from the site, the rest a result of word of mouth referrals. Now Jacob and Jennifer have found a balance in their work, their family, and their personal strengths with the help of Thumbtack.
How did you get into junk removal?
We like to call ourselves dirty job specialists. I’ve always been a very clean-freak type person, Jennifer laughs, and I find organization relaxing. That aspect has been my passion since I can remember. Jacob’s passion is the junk removal. He likes the physical work and really appreciates seeing progress and seeing he’s making a difference. Rather than a yard full of weeds, junk and trash, we see a transformation.
How and when did you get started on Thumbtack?
We heard about Thumbtack while volunteering with the Calaveras County Fire Department in 2015. We were providing evacuations, supplies, and rubble clean up for homes burned in the Butte Fire. A contractor friend involved told us about Thumbtack and we signed up. We were posted in a rural location, due to the fire work, so we didn’t get much activity. Once we moved back to Nevada, we changed our Thumbtack service location and things blew up. It was amazing! We started in 2015, but it wasn’t until December 2015 when things really blew up.
Anything you wish you could tell your 2015 self?
Since starting, I’ve lowered our service area, says Jennifer. We made our service area too big because weren’t sure how it would work. We were trying to cover entire state of Nevada. I wish I had known how many requests we’d receive so we wouldn’t have gotten overwhelmed with leads. It’s just Jacob and I, and we also have a five year old, so we have to create work-life balance.
I wish I knew the clients could send pictures right off the bat, says Jacob. Now we always have them send photos right away. We don’t walk into a landscaping or housecleaning sight unseen. A lot of our locations are rural, so we can’t easily drive to estimate a job. It helps us make a better call about costs and what is needed. Getting photos up front helps us do a more professional job.
What percentage of your work is from Thumbtack?
Now it’s 65 percent. In the beginning, Thumbtack was 90 percent of our startup. It really got our name out there. Now we have built trust in our customer base and also receive referrals.
Any tips for getting the most out of Thumbtack?
- You need to respond to a request within 5-10 minutes, says Jacob. That said, we’re still learning, but we’ve found a lot more positive reaction from clients when our response time is on the dot.
- Try to give fair prices. We have to take travel into account. Reno is a three hour roundtrip drive for us, so that is a factor is in our prices. We find that when we’re bidding low we’ll actually see a higher outcome in the end.
- Get reviews.
- Make sure you’re licensed and insured, you need that license and insurance information to be an accountable business.
- Go above and beyond. If you want good reviews and to have people see you as a respectable person and company, go the extra mile.
- Make sure you personalize your quotes. Really read the request and answer it fully. We provide quotes based on cubic yardage to provide as much information to the client as possible.
Do you use the Thumbtack mobile app?
The mobile app is the main reason we’re with Thumbtack. We constantly use it. We can track requests and we’ll actually schedule it. 95 percent of our bidding is through the mobile app. We also love the templates.
How else do you market your business?
Flyers, word of mouth, referrals, Homeadvisor, our website, and Porch (Lowe’s pro network). We’re also on Red Beacon for Home Depot, and SmithJob. But those ones we rarely use. Our profile is up, but we don’t use them much. We also use Craigslist and e-bay classifieds. Craigslist is touch and go. We get a lot of calls from that, but it takes a lot of back and forth to prove ourselves to potential customers. Thumbtack is nice because we don’t have to go through the vetting process with them.
We’re Better Business Bureau accredited. That process took 6 months, but it helps with marketing. We cater to a lot of senior citizens, elderly, and veterans. The BBB accreditation helps them feel safe with us coming out to their homes and properties.
Are there any standout jobs from Thumbtack you can share?
There was a client in Gardnerville, Nevada with a 9,000 square foot custom-built home that had burnt down in a fire. The only item that really survived was a 500 year old wood carving. The owners had already brought someone in to clean it, but it didn’t suffice. We came in and spent 2-3 hours restoring that carving, cleaning it with Q-tips. He was rebuilding the home as an exact clone of the original design. While we were there it was still under construction and renovation. We were doing fire restoration and construction detailing. He hired us to make sure the home was spotless and perfect in every way. It was hard work, but it’s still one of the best reviews we’ve received.
Any tips for other cleanout specialists on Thumbtack?
Pay attention to detail. Don’t leave anything out and don’t skip over anything. Make sure you go above and beyond.
Be personable. Don’t act so professional that clients feel uncomfortable. Make sure you give them the attention and respect they deserve.
You never know who the client is or what their situation is. Maybe they’re disabled. Treat each client with kindness.
Get the job done. Help the client. That will get you reviews. Make sure you’ve got those credentials, your license and your insurance.
Always ask the customer for their approval before doing something! Always ask them “is this how you wanted it?” Always do a walk through with them. If you have to come back and fix it, fix it for free. Just get it done.
How critical is Thumbtack to your business success?
Major. It has been huge. When we got Top Pro we were so happy. Thumbtack has been amazing.
[Photos via JNJ Homeworks]