Following up wins jobs. You’ve heard it before — many, many times. But the idea of following up is broad, what does it actually mean? We surveyed more than ten Thumbtack Top Pros to find out. Here’s what they told us about how they follow up — in seven steps.
Step 1: Evaluate the opportunity in front of you, and follow-up either way.
You’ve been connected to a new customer — the job is yours to win. And whether you sent the quote yourself or Thumbtack made the match for you, you’ve got to follow up. But before you send the message, consider the job. Ask yourself:
? Do I have the right skills to do this job?
? Do I have room in my schedule to get the job done?
? Is the job in the right area?
? Is the job in the right price point?
Let’s say the jobs checks three of these four boxes. You should still follow up. Just be honest with the customer about any mismatches (ex: “I would love to paint your house. But in order to do my highest quality job, I’d be available the weekend after you’ve requested.”).
As Top Pro massage therapist Sam Imperatrice explains, “It’s counterintuitive, but I think the most important thing you can do is draw boundaries. For example, I’m not a night person. In general, if a customer is looking for night appointments, I’m probably not their pro. And that’s a line I don’t step over.” Be transparent about what you can and can’t do and suggest alternatives, but don’t miss out on the opportunity to introduce yourself to a new customer.
Step 2: Customers have a lot on their mind. Get back to them as quickly as you can.
Customers are just people — people with jobs and mile-long to-do lists. Odds are, that’s why they’re hiring you. The faster you get back to them about a job, the more likely you are to get hired. Top Pro yoga instructor Selysa Love learned this the hard way.
“I wish that I’d known that the speed of your follow-up plays a big role in whether or not you’ll be hired. I’ve noticed that if I respond in five minutes or less (because I’ve already built my profile out and I have so many reviews) I’m usually going to get hired. That’s especially true when you’re dealing with a younger customer base who move really fast,” says Selysa.
If you’re not sure how fast other pros are responding, Thumbtack has a tool to help: Pro Insights. Get in the habit of reviewing your Insights reports to learn more about competition in your market and how you can get ahead.
Step 3: Keep things professional, no matter what profession you’re in.
You want to get your follow-up messages out fast — but not so fast that they’re sloppy. Make sure to double check your writing for any grammatical or spacing mistakes, especially if you’re sending the message from your phone. Ask yourself:
? Does it answer the customer’s question(s)?
? Is the tone warm, friendly and professional?
? Is the message short enough to be skimmable?
Being professional will set you apart, says Top Pro DJ Antwon Smith. “A lot of DJs have great skills, but they don’t know the difference between business casual and business professional. They don’t know what to write in an email or what to not say or do at a gig. Understanding professional etiquette is important,” he explains.
Step 4: If you haven’t heard back from the customer — reach out again.
If you’ve reached out to a customer and haven’t heard back, wait a day and try again. As Top Pro leadership consultant Michael Brown explains, “Someone from Thumbtack gave me a key piece of advice. They said, ‘Don’t reach out just once. If you send a quote and you see they’ve viewed the quote, reach out again.’ I’ve had clients tell me, ‘Well I left it alone, but then you reached out to me again and that’s what sold me.’ ”
Your second message should be short and to the point. Check in on the status of the job and remind your customer that you’d be excited to help them get their project done. Here’s an example:
Hope you’re doing well. Are you still looking for a home stager? If so, I’d be excited to help get your home picture perfect. Check out my work to see if it might be a good fit for your vision. I would love to work with you on this.
Looking forward to hearing from you!
Make sure to include the customer’s name, address their project, and (where you can) provide links to past work or your business website.
Step 5: If most of the time you’re not hearing back, ask yourself why.
You won’t win every job — even if you’re the fastest, most professional, friendliest, and you offer gift bags at the end of every job. Ask any lifelong professional and they’ll tell you pretty much the same thing. “Don’t get down on yourself when your first few requests don’t get responses or if a customer turns you down. People are complicated and want all kinds of different things. Don’t beat yourself up too much,” says Top Pro music instructor Vaughn Chung.
But if you’re not hearing back as a rule, stop and think about what might be holding you back. In Vaughn’s case (like so many others) the problem was his profile. “In the first two or three months, I felt really discouraged. It lowered my confidence because I didn’t get the response I wanted. Because of that, I didn’t put as much effort into it. But once I really sat down and revamped my profile, the requests came. I started getting responses, and all of a sudden the work I was putting into it, I was getting out of it,” he says.
Professional resume writer and editor Rebecca Kovan agrees. The Top Pro explains, “If you just set up a profile and hope for the best without putting in the time and grit, it’s not going to pay off. You need to be really invested in building your profile, taking the time, and securing new customer reviews on the backend. There’s also no substitute for happy customers and good reviews.”
You can also use your message to offer your client a special first-time deal. Depending on your profession, you might have the flexibility to offer a special deal to new customers. If this is the case, mention it in your first follow-up message to sweeten the deal (without compromising on your standard prices).
Top Pro massage Therapist John Howell explains, “I offer a substantial discount on the first session customers book through Thumbtack. There are a lot of massage therapists in Dallas so even though my work is special, until you experience it that may not mean a whole lot. I find that offering a substantial discount on the first session attracts a lot of people.”
Step 6: When your client responds, make a great impression.
You sent your follow-up message and the customer wants to talk — you’re in. Make the most of your first conversation, whether it’s over messages or on the phone. How? “You need to be an extrovert and show that you love what you do. You have to be very responsive and sell yourself. Be open to talking to people on the phone. I get all of my clients by asking to talk to them,” says Top Pro math tutor Laila Rahmatian.
That doesn’t mean saying “yes” to everything the customer wants, says Laila. “I’ve had to put my foot down by justifying my prices. People tell me my prices are too high and I explain why in a very professional way. You can’t be a pushover — that’s when you overpromise and get bad reviews,” she explains.
5 things to do before getting on the phone with a new customer.
? Reread the details of customer’s job request.
? Jot down anything that you can’t provide/any issues.
? Have questions ready for the customer about the job.
? Prepare your price — and be ready to back it up.
? Draft a follow-up email with examples of work similar to what they want.
Step 7: After a job is over, keep growing your customer relationship.
Follow-up doesn’t end when you’ve won the job, or when you’re on the job, or even when the job is done. The surest way to grow your customer base is to commit to following up with your customer the whole way through — what you might call relationship management.
As Top Pro piano instructor Juan Carlos Zepeda explains, “You have to genuinely care about your customer and be willing to work with them and meet them where they are, whatever that takes. Odds are, you’ll be working with the same clients on a regular basis. Whether they’re an advanced musician or just getting started, you have to take the time to understand what your client wants so you can empower them to get there.”
After the job is done, when you’re asking for reviews or tidying up loose ends, keep the conversation going. “I wait a while before asking someone to review me,” says Top Pro language coach Lina del Roble. “I’ll wait months even. I want to build the relationship first and then ask for the review. Once they’ve written something I send a thank you message or call them. It’s really an excuse to get back in touch.”
Want more tips? Get a glimpse into what your customers are thinking with Thumbtack Profile 101: What Customers Want to See.