Baron Lambert was working at 24 Hour Fitness when a friend recommended that he join Thumbtack. After just a few months, Baron had enough new clients to keep him busy full-time. When demand for his mobile training services became too much to handle alone, he partnered with fellow trainer Jessica Garcia to create Top Tier Fitness, a high-quality fitness company that provides in-home workout sessions to clients across the Bay Area. Now in its second year, Top Tier employs six personal trainers and has plans to expand. We asked Baron what it takes to be a Top Pro as a personal trainer, and how Thumbtack has helped him empower others to live healthier, more fulfilled lives.
How did you get started on Thumbtack?
I was working at 24 Hour Fitness and having trouble building my client roster when a coworker who used Thumbtack recommended it for growing my client base. I signed up and within weeks I had added a whole new batch of home training clients to my list. I quickly realized that I was making more money working for myself on Thumbtack than I was at the gym. It snowballed from there and before long I was working for myself full time.
How have you grown your business on Thumbtack?
When I started on Thumbtack in 2013 it was just me. Pretty quickly my client list grew beyond what I could handle and I started having to turn people down. Around a year and a half ago I realized the business potential in working with more trainers. That’s when Jessica and I decided to partner up to form Top Tier Fitness. We brought on new trainers and built a broader radius for in-home training areas. Now there are five of us working with clients all across the Bay Area and we’re looking to expand further.
What would you suggest for professionals who are new to Thumbtack?
Give it a shot. I recommend Thumbtack to my friends all the time, whether or not they’re in the personal training industry. My thought is, why wouldn’t you? It’s free to start your profile and you can bid on jobs as much or as little as you want. Sure, quotes cost money. But they can also result in relationships that will last for years.
These days we focus most on our profile. We’ve really learned how to tailor content to our customers. Rather than just telling people what we do, we provide pictures and reviews. People want to know that you can create results, so we provide before-and-after pictures. They want to know that training is going to be fun and friendly, so we concentrate on getting our trainers out there to meet them. We use a lot of trainer and client interaction photos and videos too so people know what to expect.
First impressions matter a lot, especially when you’re competing with hundreds of other professionals online.
Do you use the Thumbtack mobile app?
We are always checking requests and sending quotes from our phones. Since we’re a mobile training service, we’re always on our way from one appointment to another. We want to be fast and to catch requests the second they come in. That means keeping an eye on the phone.
Do you have any tips when it comes to asking for reviews?
Asking for reviews is more than just a one-off task. More typically than not our client relationships last a long time, and as a trainer it’s your job to build that relationship. Most of the time the people you train become your close friends.
Generally, about four or five weeks into training you’ll feel comfortable asking for a review. There’s no special wording to it, but I always stress the importance of spreading the word. We feel good about the work we do, and if they do too, they should pass it along. The more people we can help to reach their goals, the better. And reviews are one of the biggest ways that we get there.
Do you use any other marketing tools?
The majority of our leads come from Thumbtack. It’s our backbone and our go-to. I would say that around 75 percent of our business comes from Thumbtack in one way or another. Even the bulk of our referrals are connected to clients we found on Thumbtack.
How can people expand their business on Thumbtack?
Thumbtack really gets you out there, especially for the kind of work that we do. As a mobile trainer, you can’t see everybody who needs your services. It’s literally impossible. But now, since everyone lives on the internet, there is a more streamlined process for getting in front of clients. Thumbtack connects you with people who need your service, then it’s on you to make those relationships count.
What’s the secret to sending the perfect quote?
We have one quote that we send out for individual sessions, and another for clients looking for group trainings. One of the things we’re really working on this year is creating more individualized quotes. For example, we know that most of our clients want to lose weight and tone up. So it seems obvious that we should build a quote that’s geared towards that.
We provide a step-by-step description of what a Top Tier training session is like at the bottom of every quote, as well as a link to our website. We didn’t start linking our website until recently, and we’ve found that it makes a big difference.
Do you have a strategy when it comes picking jobs to quote on?
Our quoting strategy has remained the same since we started Top Tier. The number of quotes we send is based on our trainers’ availability. We sometimes have more business than we can fulfill and it has a lot to do with where the requests are coming from.
We send anywhere between 25 and 30 quotes in a week. Generally, only one or two of those quotes come back successful. The truth is that a lot of people are either shopping around for price or end up on your page accidentally. But it’s worth it. Quotes are cheap, and those five or six jobs that we do get in a month are business for life if we do our jobs right.
What’s the key to being a Top Pro on Thumbtack?
Being a Top Pro means constantly staying up to date on your industry and your clients’ needs. A big part of that is continuing to make your profile better by tailoring it to your customer. Social proof is so important and people expect professionalism at all costs. That may mean getting your photos taken by a professional photographer or hiring a writer to do your quotes. Then, once you’ve won the job, figure out how to keep that customer for life. And ask them to review you along the way.
Is there anything that has made your Thumbtack experience especially meaningful?
We’ve been hired over 150 times on Thumbtack. As a personal training company our goal is to help our clients live better, healthier lives. Most of the time we become much more than a trainer to our clients. We share knowledge and help them unleash their potential, and generally we become close friends in the process.
We get invited to weddings all the time. Last summer, I went on a trip to Hong Kong with a couple of my clients. It was amazing.
Is there anything that Thumbtack has helped you be the first to do?
Everyone in my family has a normal, stable job. Most of them are nurses. And when I started at 24 Hour Fitness I was headed down a similar route. I knew where my paycheck was coming from and what my hours were. But I wasn’t making very much and I wasn’t doing it my own way. Starting my own business on Thumbtack changed all of this, and I’m really the first in my family to do so.
[Photos via Baron Lambert]