How do you take a fledgling part-time catering company and turn it into a thriving business with two restaurants and services that expand across state lines? Paul and Stephanie Staley used Thumbtack to dramatically expand their business. This culinary couple’s company, Emerald City Cakes and Chocolates, now serves the Seattle and Portland regions, and offers a wide range of services. We asked these Top Pros for their best Thumbtack tips for growing their dream.
How did you get connected to Thumbtack?
I had recently transitioned to being completely self-employed with our catering company and things were looking bleak. I was searching for ways to try and expand our client base and increase revenue and I somehow came across Thumbtack. It was one of the few no-risk ways to try and garner new business.
How much of your work is from Thumbtack?
I would say that at this point, Thumbtack is responsible for about 75 percent of our business.
What are some of your strategies best strategies for succeeding on Thumbtack?
Stay diligent and don’t get discouraged when clients don’t respond or hire you all the time. Make sure to use all of the different aspects of Thumbtack that are available. Fill out your profile as much as you can with pictures of past services rendered. Post any Thumbtack badges you earn on your website. Link to Thumbtack on Instagram and your other social media channels. Take advantage of the amazing customer service available for the pros. I’ve always had questions answered immediately, and my suggestions and feedback have been welcome. Take advantage of what Thumbtack has to offer.
Do you use the Thumbtack mobile app?
Being caterers, we travel all of the time and are out of the office a lot. The mobile app allows us to keep up on our client contacts and job bids while we’re at events or traveling to and from one of our many projects.
What are your best tips for writing winning quotes?
Make sure to read all of the details that the client presents and tailor each quote for that particular client.
Have there been any Thumbtack jobs that were especially memorable?
There are so many! Sometimes it’s the people. One of my absolute favorite jobs was a 90th birthday party for one of the most entertaining and lively women I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. The joy and exuberance she brought into the room was tangible. Meeting her was a real pleasure.
Other times it’s the setting. Recently we catered a wedding on a rooftop in downtown Bellevue with one of the most amazing views I have seen at a wedding. That was really special. Another stunner was a wedding in a remote home in the Cascade mountains overlooking a lake with a backdrop of the setting sun hitting the mountain peaks.
But truly, because we are invited to be part of such momentous and special occasions, every job offers opportunities for memorable moments and experiences. That is one thing I love about this industry.
Any special advice for caterers on Thumbtack?
Make sure to take pictures of your food to share with your potential clients. It makes a difference.
Do you have general advice for professionals just getting started on Thumbtack?
Stay with it and don’t get discouraged. Just like anything, it takes time to figure out how to best use the service to your advantage
How integral is the site to your success?
Thumbtack is an integral part of our business. We would not be anywhere near where we are now without it. I don’t even know how to put it in numbers, but our story explains it well. We went from a very part-time catering company to working on opening two brick-and-mortar restaurants as well. Additionally, we have expanded our catering/private chef business from Seattle down into the Portland area. We also offer more services than we did before, including event planning, wedding coordinating, on-site BBQ and travel for event services.
What other tools do you use to market your business or find customers?
I rely primarily on Thumbtack and on word of mouth and references. I also try to stay active on a few food groups that are on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to help promote our businesses.
What’s the most critical element to succeeding on Thumbtack as a Top Pro?
It isn’t limited to Thumbtack by any means, but make sure to never compromise on quality. Taking pride in what you do will lead to success more often than not in most things with life.
[Photos via Emerald City Cakes and Chocolates]