Jennifer Kasmer believes in getting to know her competition. The Charlotte-based personal trainer was scanning competitors’ websites when she discovered Thumbtack and decided to create an account of her own. After struggling with social media and direct mail, Thumbtack provided Jennifer an easy and cost-effective way of finding long-term clients. We caught up with Jennifer to learn more about how her studio, Everlasting Changes, has expanded on Thumbtack, and what it takes to find clients that are in it for the long haul.
How did you get started on Thumbtack?
Our studio opened in 2011 and we joined Thumbtack a few years after that. Whenever a competitor in our area is doing well, we watch closely to figure out what’s working for them. We were looking into a studio and spied a Thumbtack link on their website. It wasn’t long before we decided to try it out.
Thumbtack was simple and easy to use. We were using mainly social media and direct mail at the time, and we realized that Thumbtack was the cost effective choice.
How has Thumbtack helped your business grow?
Thumbtack is a more credible resource for customers looking for qualified professionals. Unlike static ads, Thumbtack quotes feel personal. There’s an actual person at the other end of every quote. I know from using Thumbtack for my own projects. When someone sends you a quote, you can look at their website and see their reviews. That’s why we’ve been successful, we’ve found a way to actually connect with interested customers.
What do you suggest for people just getting started on Thumbtack?
Really use the quote templates. The faster you get quotes out, the faster you’ll be able to compete. And you have to be ok with not getting customers right out the door. There is a learning curve when you start. Once you find a quote that works you’ll figure out creative ways to make every client feel like an individual.
How do you find your ideal customer on Thumbtack?
Personal training is a long term financial investment so we’re looking for clients with expendable income. You don’t want to quote too low. You need a quote that is bittersweet: high enough to minimize single session clients, but low enough to stay competitive.
I don’t recommend offering free services. A lot of people go through the free trial without understanding the real value of the service. Once the trial ends they have sticker shock. They don’t want to pay or it’s clearly out of their price range.
In the past, we’ve signed up for packages that offer customers extreme discounts. Those deals didn’t turn into regular business in the end, but finding that out took a long time. Your clients need to know the value of personal training and the main way they learn that is by having worked with trainers before. Those are the clients we’re looking for.
Do you use the Thumbtack mobile app?
I do use the mobile app. I’m lucky that my business allows for some office time most days, so I split 50/50 using Thumbtack on my phone and my desktop. But when I’m out and about I always use my phone.
How did you get your first reviews on Thumbtack?
When we first started, I asked existing clients to post reviews on our Thumbtack page. It’s important for customers to see what other people are saying about you. Personal training is such an intimate service. You’re working in a small group or one-on-one, and if your trainer doesn’t know what they’re doing they can really injure you.
You spend a lot of time with this person. You want them to have some kind of a personality. They need to be the full package—knowledgeable about training and modifications, and also listens to you and cares about your life.
Any tips or secrets when it comes to asking for reviews?
Everybody that starts with us gets a follow-up email. In that email we ask them to share what they like about our service and what sets us apart from other trainers. We include the direct link to where they can write their review to make it quick and easy for them.
Do you have any advice about buying and managing credits on Thumbtack?
We suggest Thumbtack to other personal trainers all the time, and we always give the same advice. You should stick to a small radius when sending quotes, because you’re looking for people who can easily get to you a few times a week. A lot of the trainers who say Thumbtack hasn’t worked for them ignored our advice. You end up with a lot of customers who won’t stick around in the long term and that’s a waste of credits.
We send three or four quotes a day, and every one of them is within a three mile radius of the studio. Personal training isn’t a one off thing like the dentist or the accountant. If you’re not a stone’s throw away from your customer, you won’t be able to retain them for regular sessions.
What’s the secret to sending the perfect quote?
I have my own little science when it comes to quoting. I always make sure I mention their name in the quote. “Hey, Sarah, I saw your interest in our service” and that we’re located conveniently in their zip code. We have two huge promos that I mention at the top, and the rest of the quote is tailored to what they provided in the request.
We use a template but we change it for every request to fit their specific needs. I include our contact info at the bottom of the quote and say that spots are limited to add urgency.
Templates make quoting really fast, and to be able to win a job these days, we have to be the first ones to quote.
What’s the key to being a Top Pro on Thumbtack?
Being a Top Pro means using templates and making sure you’re always quick to respond. You should always offer a high quality service because you want to keep clients and you want to get good reviews.
Do you have any tips for customers looking to hire a personal trainer on Thumbtack?
It’s important to know that your personal trainer has been certified. Customers should ask for a training certification, any other accreditations they might have, how long they’ve been working, and whether they’re able to modify their program to work with injuries or as part of a larger medical regimen.
One big thing to look out for: if your trainer has moved around a lot from job to job, that’s generally a bad sign. You want to know your personal trainer will be consistent.
Do you have a favorite Thumbtack story?
We have a rule that we don’t send quotes to anyone under 30. They don’t fit our target demographic; most of our clients are between 35 and 55. One time, on a whim, I sent a quote to someone who was in her twenties. Ours was the fifth quote. I broke the rules for this request and for basically no reason. Two years later, that client is still with us, and she’s referred two other people. That was a $2 quote that turned into $1,200 worth of business. It’s a lesson. You never know where your clients are going to come from.
[Photos via Jennifer Kasmer]