Thumbtack is just right for Kari Kerr. She tripled her dog-training business, Critters Training, within eight months of listing her business. With over 32 years of dog training experience, she knows her stuff, but her recent move to Forest Grove, Oregon, meant breaking into a new market. Once in, she knew her masters degree in behavioral psychology and decades of experience would handle the rest. Now she’s booked a month in advance and has trained dogs as far as Portland. She’s even trained a chicken to walk on a leash and ring a doorbell. Here’s how she makes Thumbtack work for her business.
When did you join Thumbtack?
I found Thumbtack in January of 2016 by accident. When I first read about it, I wasn’t sure it was real. Then I thought, well it’s just a few dollars. And oh boy, did it pay off. I started getting requests for quotes immediately.
What have you learned since joining?
Not to respond to every request for a quote. At first I was trying to be everything to everyone and go everywhere. I set my geographical region to wide, and I’d end up driving two hours for a one hour training. It wasn’t practical economically.
I also am more specific about who I send a quote to. There are others who specialize in service dog training or protection training. I do behavioral training and keep my focus to those requests.
How much of your work comes from Thumbtack?
Right now, 60 percent of my jobs come from Thumbtack, but Thumbtack also helped me build my word of mouth reputation.
How can others help their Thumbtack business grow?
Follow up on all your quotes. As soon as I get a notification from Thumbtack that someone has viewed my quote, I follow up with a message that is even more personalized. I give them additional information about my resume and training background and how it relates to their needs. The point is to let them know how you can help them.
I also have a background in marketing, and I use what I call a tick work file. Each quote that I send out, I add the name to a file reminding me to follow up with that person four to six weeks after. If the person’s request is still open, I follow up with them again, letting them know I am still able to help. This has been a great way for me to get jobs.
And using the app is great because I can respond to requests for quotes and answer client questions quickly.
What’s your secret to writing great quotes?
I think personalization is the big thing. I have to show the client how I going to meet their needs. Not just by giving them a price, but by telling them how I will help their anxious dog or their reactive dog. I offer to provide references of clients with a similar dog problem who I was able to help.
Every job I get is rewarding! I get to help naughty dogs stay in their homes and be good. One recent Thumbtack job was a flat-coated retriever—a big, black, social dog. His owners wanted to go hiking and take him off leash, but he would run off and wouldn’t come when called. We solved that. Now he can go to the beach, and he’s currently backpacking in Idaho with his owners. I did all the training with loving kindness, and now the dog is 100 percent on voice command. The rules we have taught the dog have given him freedom he would have never known.
Any tips for pros just joining Thumbtack?
Just jump in and try it! Also, you can’t work all the requests for quotes you will get. Bid on the ones that appeal to you and bid often. It’s a numbers game.
How has Thumbtack changed your business?
Thumbtack has grown my business substantially. I was new to town, and was able to find people in my immediate area, but now I can connect with people in Portland. Stores and vets in outlying areas are requesting my contact information. My word of mouth audience has really grown.
Before Thumbtack I was booking appointments one week out. Now, I’m booked three weeks to a month out. I’d say my business has tripled.
Marketing-wise, I’m no longer using other sources to advertise…only Thumbtack, social media, and word of mouth.
Do you have any tips for pros who want to earn Top Pro status?
Be quick to respond, personalize your quotes and follow up!
[Photos via Kari Kerr]