For centuries, Jason Jaye’s family has made a living turning junk into gold. From roadside tires, to scrap metal and vats of restaurant grease, the family business has thrived off of seeing new life in what others left behind. Growing up, Jason spent winters in his father’s junkyard and summers in his grandmother’s antique shop, a labyrinth of old-fashion cuckoo clocks that his father and uncles picked up in their daily rounds.
Today, Jason is proudly continuing that family tradition on Thumbtack, where he started his own junk removal business, Wosco Salvage and Junk Removal in 2014. With 40 hires and 20+ reviews on Thumbtack, Jason’s return to the world of junk has been no short of triumphant.
We sat down with the Top Pro to chat about family, the rules of salvage, the trick to perfect quotes, reviews, and more.
Just how far back does your junk removal experience go?
It’s like I was born with this business in my DNA. I’ve been surrounded by it my whole life. By the time I was fifteen I could tell you the difference between tin and copper from a mile away. Every day is something different, and when it’s at its best you feel like a modern day treasure hunter.
Do you have a family junk removal story?
A month before the U.S. entered World War II, my great-uncle was asked to remove drums of oil that were taking up space in the back of a massive peanut roasting plant. There were hundreds of them. He was paid 10 cents a barrel and to take every last container away. A few weeks later, the war started and the government needed peanut oil for fuel and ammunitions. My great-uncle just happened to have a football field’s worth and he sold them for a really amazing return.
Did you always know you would work in the family business?
I knew I loved it but I tried a lot of different things too. I wanted to know what was out there. I was an actor in Hollywood for a while. A struggling actor! I was a stunt double in Delta Force III and had small roles in movies like Lambada the Forbidden Dance and Bad Jim. If you look it up, you can see me in a ‘90s AM-PM commercial for their Thirsty 2-oz drink.
When I came back to Northern California, I enrolled in the West Coast Detective Academy in in Oakland. I graduated number one in my class. Of course, I ended being drawn back into the family industry eventually.
Do you remember your first job using Thumbtack?
I took on a job that was way too big for me. I had to drive to Walnut Creek but my truck wasn’t working so I had to take my SUV instead. It was jam-packed after one load and the full job took two weeks to complete. A learning experience!
What have you learned about how to word your quotes since you started?
When I first started, I had no clue what I was doing, and the way my quotes were written wasn’t working. I was getting discouraged but as I continued adjusting my quotes, I started to win more and more business. It takes time to learn how to write quotes that customers will respond to.
I’ve learned to always send a follow-up message after the initial quote. Once they’ve opened my quote, I send a message with my phone number that says, “I’m just following up in case you have any questions about my services.” As soon as the customer sees it, a muscle in their brain twitches. It’s something that other people in my industry generally don’t do and it sets me apart.
How do you ask for reviews in a way customers respond to?
When I’m on the job I emphasize just how much their good review means to my business. If people try to tip me, I ask them to review me instead. I stress how important it is for me to get ahead and stress how important reviews are for small businesses like mine.
Do you have any tips for finding a price that works?
I always wait until I show up on the site to offer a final price quote and I let them know that in our initial conversations. In my industry you just never know what you’ll be walking into.
When you tell your customer what the price will be, think about where they are in this moment too. People are often really stressed out so you don’t want to alarm them with a price you know they won’t like.
Do you ever say “no” to a job?
I say “no” when I know the scale of the job is too big for me or the price point is too low. One time I referred a customer to a larger company who I thought could handle the job faster and better than I would be able to.
I know that I’m a slow-going guy and I’m going to take a full day to complete most jobs. If people are in a huge rush, I’m probably not the right pro.
What does it take to be a Top Pro?
Be the first to quote and make that quote count. People will want to know that there won’t be any surcharges so reassure them that there won’t be in advance. I always meet my customers in person because I want them to know that I have experience and am going to take care of the job.
Sometimes I’ll do nice extra things to put my services above and beyond like clean their house after we remove the junk. I think you should leave every job in the shape that you would leave your own home.
Any plans to expand your business on Thumbtack?
I plan on selling my largest truck and getting more trailers and smaller trucks and hiring more people so I can stay on top of more jobs at the same time.