Chef Danny Wells is doing something right. He’s been hired over 90 times as a personal chef on Thumbtack in the last year, and 90 percent of those new clients return. He’s big on helping others and was happy to share his recipe for success as a professional on Thum btack.
What’s your experience with Thumbtack?
I love it. It’s where I get approximately 99 percent of my new business. I’m part of the United States Personal Chef Association and mainly do private events. I cook every kind of cuisine from vegan to BBQ, but I especially love Thai and Italian.
How did you get started on the site?
Starting my private chef company, I was looking online for personal chefs jobs. Thumbtack popped up out of nowhere. Being a professional on Thumbtack provides me free marketing and reaches an audience I would never have access to otherwise. I’m based in Florida, and many of my clients find me before they travel here for vacation. They come from China, California, Italy, all over. They find me!
What’s the key for success on Thumbtack?
You need reviews. Before you even start quoting, get reviews on your profile. It’s the first thing clients look for. Thumbtack allows you to access past client reviews from other websites, so do it. You need reviews. Period.
What do you wish you had known when you first started?
It took me a while to understand how the site works and how to respond to people properly. Now I understand how to do quotes and how the process works, and I get a lot of business. People get upset because they’re sending out quotes but not getting business. I say, the first thing it goes back to, is whether or not you have reviews.
Was there a learning curve to sending good quotes?
My quotes set me apart from the other chefs. I respond to potential clients as though they’re family to me. Be personal! If it’s a wedding, I say, “Congrats on your wedding! I’m married too, and know how much work it is.” Especially as a personal chef, you’ll be going into the client’s home. The clients want to feel confident in you! I always include my phone number and I ALWAYS follow up.
Once someone has opened my quote, I follow up with them. Many users are brand new to Thumbtack and I help guide them. I follow up with an email saying, “Here’s my profile, here’s my phone number, check out my reviews, if you have any more questions, I’m here for you.”
What are your top tips for writing winning quotes?
Be friendly, be personal to the client’s event, and don’t cut and paste. And, be quick to respond. Thumbtack sends out reports—my average response time to quotes is 3 minutes, whereas the overall average response time to quotes for other pros in my area is 128 minutes. That gives me an advantage. I use Thumbtack to get most of my business though, so I’m on it like a crazy man, making it work for me!
How can new professionals expand their business on Thumbtack?
Don’t get discouraged. It takes time and you have to invest both financially and with effort. Keep sending quotes, keep being friendly, keep following up. Many people using Thumbtack are first-time users so it’s helpful if you guide them through the process. If you help them feel comfortable, they will hire you.
Follow up! Every few months I follow up with my clients and say hi, ask about their kids. Invest in people and you’ll have return clientele.
Go above and beyond. If out of town visitors hire me to cook a dinner party for Friday night, I respond and offer to stock up their fridge for their vacation. Of course they pay for their groceries, but I’ll offer that service free of charge. And just doing that little bit, going that extra mile brings me endless return on investment. It means glowing word of mouth referrals, great reviews, repeat clientele, and just really nice relationships with people. I enjoy what I do.
How do you use the Thumbtack mobile app?
I downloaded the app, so when someone sends me a message I get an alert (by email, text, and the app notification). I want to be the first responder.
What are some of your most memorable and rewarding jobs on Thumbtack?
You never know who you’re dealing with when you’re dealing with Thumbtack.
I did an event for the Vice President of Coca-Cola, she’s a fabulous lady. Once we began corresponding for her event and I realized where she worked, I said, “Hey I’m a big Coke fan, I love Coke.” When I came to cook her Italian meal for 20 people, she gave me a Coca-Cola cookbook and some other gifts. It was so thoughtful! I keep in touch with her. Every few months I ask how she is, or maybe send her a photo of me drinking a Coke or something. That’s the key—no matter who the client is, treat them all the same with warmth and respect.
Another fun job was a bachelorette party for Miss Coors Light from Nascar. All the attendees were Nascar wives from South Carolina, they were all so nice and down to earth. Any time any of them come to Florida they call me now, they say, “Hey Chef Danny, me and my hubby are coming down, can you cook us dinner?”
Any advice specific to other personal chefs on Thumbtack?
Remember the first word in your title is Personal. Often chefs have a reputation for being cocky. Being arrogant or better than in the personal chef world doesn’t go over well. You’re in people’s homes—be kind. My clients are happy because I’m friendly!
When quoting for events that have a wide range of people, say 11-20—that’s a big price difference if you price out for 11 people vs. pricing out for 20 people. I always bid based on the middle, in this case 15 people, to get a median number. Then in your quote, explain your cost per person to the client so they can make an informed decision.
What other tools do you use to market your business or find customers?
Thumbtack is my number one killer, that and word of mouth. Thumbtack sends me the business. It’s my job to go get it. I can’t get mad at Thumbtack if I’m not getting hired. Thumbtack brings me business and gives me the ability to succeed with their network.