Evan Mather was in his first year of law school when he realized he wanted out. A longtime athlete and fitness enthusiast, Evan had considered becoming a personal trainer off and on for years. With law school behind him, Evan enrolled in classes to get his personal training license, and after two years working for another gym, decided to open a studio of his own.
Today his studio is thriving, and Evan is certain a lot of that success is thanks to Thumbtack. Here’s what the top-rated trainer told us about reviews, Instant Match and why your profile should be spell-checked (twice).
How did you get started as a personal trainer?
I moved from Oregon to San Francisco for law school—I lasted exactly one year. When I decided not to go back, I needed a job. I’d always considered becoming a personal trainer and now seemed like the right time to give it a real shot. So I got certified and worked for another personal training company for a while to get a feel for how things worked. I saw how they did it and how I would want to do it, and then I started planning. Custom Fit has been operating for five years now.
How did you learn about Thumbtack?
When I was ready to start my own business, I put myself in my client’s shoes. If I wanted to hire a personal trainer, what would I do? I’d do a Google search. So I searched for “personal training San Francisco.” Thumbtack was the first thing to pop up. I signed up and was very persistent about sending quotes and following up. That was around three years ago, and in that time Thumbtack has been a huge driver of my success.
What do you think is the key to a strong Thumbtack profile?
Think about what customers wants to see—reviews, photos of your gym or your work, information about your services—and make sure it’s all there. Your profile should be polished because it’s the very first thing that the customer will see, and they’ll look fast. You have less than a minute before they’ve made their initial decision to consider your business or not. So make sure your pictures are hi-res, your grammar is flawless, and your details are all there.
How do you think about asking for reviews on Thumbtack?
When you are a sole proprietor it’s a lot easier, because you have a close relationship with this person. As someone who employs a lot of other trainers I find that it’s all about how you phrase things. I have always taken the approach of asking clients in-person and asking in a way that allows them to easily say ‘no’ without feeling rude. I always ask clients if they are comfortable writing a review. It gives the client an out if they feel like they want to wait more time or just don’t want to do it. But most of the time when you ask they say ‘yes.’ By the time you ask for a review, you should feel clear that they’re happy with your services.
What made you decide to try out Instant Match?
When I first heard about Instant Match, I thought it was great. I had been looking forward to something like this for a long time because I was on my phone checking Thumbtack a lot and even then I wasn’t always first to the quote. It was easy to sign up on Instant Match and it worked exactly as I thought it would. You enter all of your preferences (your prices, travel radius, the kinds of trainings you do, schedule, etc.) and then you get customer matches based on those details.
One big thing: stay proactive, even when Thumbtack is the one reaching out to customers first. Make sure that your profile is updated, make sure that people are viewing your offer. You have more time to check and follow-up, but you have to remain diligent.
How do you think about setting your prices?
You have to do your research. When I started, I called every gym I could to find out what they were charging so I could get a sense of the going rate. I started a little cheaper than the competition (definitely not the cheapest) and as I got more popular, I started raising my prices. When your availability starts to get limited, that’s when you can afford to raise your prices.
I’m very clear about my pricing. I include absolutely everything—add-ons for nutrition consultations and more. So when a customer sees my estimate on Instant Match, they have the definitive number. It won’t change from what they see.
What do you think it takes to be a Top Pro?
I think you need to provide the best service that you possibly can. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to be the best technical trainer; in a lot of ways, the technical aspect of training is the easy part. You have to be warm, personable, and trustworthy enough to make a client enjoy spending an hour with you. I could be the best trainer in the world, but if I don’t keep the workout fun and engaging, they’re not going to come back.
One thing I’ve noticed with training: all relationships start out professional, but most of them become personal too. I’ve been training with a lot of my clients three days a week for four or more years. By now I know their families, I’ve been over to their houses, I know their stories and they know mine. It becomes a friendship, as much as anything.
Read more stories about how pros are succeeding on Instant Match.