Chef Matt Salazar delivers on delicious food. With a flair for what’s fresh now, more than half of his personal chef business is now sourced from Thumbtack. The Le Cordon Bleu-honors graduate comes from Korean, Filipino, and Chinese backgrounds—learning early on from his mother and grandmother about cooking. He’s now a highly-rated Top Pro on Thumbtack and is here to share his success strategies.
What do you wish you’d known when you first started?
Every business owner makes some mistakes in the beginning. I thought I planned almost everything I needed to start my business, but I didn’t. I found out you can’t jump into a new venture and think it will run smoothly from the start. I wish I had planned a way to get more clients in the beginning.
How did you get started using with Thumbtack?
Thumbtack popped up when I was researching how to gain more clients. At first I was skeptical about paying for the quotes, but I tried it and started getting the results I wanted from it.
What do you recommend to others hoping to be a Thumbtack Top Pro?
For success on Thumbtack, I recommend listening to your customer’s wants. If you can’t communicate correctly with your clients, then you won’t be able to fulfill their needs. More than half of my clients come from Thumbtack now.
Do you use the Thumbtack mobile app?
Yes, I only use the app. I’m always on the go, either in the kitchens or at the market shopping for food. The app lets me know I have a potential client. I quote from anywhere and use my phone to lock in events and dinners. It’s so convenient.
Any tips for pros who are new to the site?
Don’t give up. In the beginning it will be a little slow, only because you have to start your platform base. You have to succeed on your jobs and give your clients the best service you can. This will lead to great reviews. Once great reviews start rolling in, potential clients will see you’re a reliable pro they can trust to hire. Think about it like this, if you were a customer would you go with the bad reviews or the pro with the best reviews? If you succeed in pleasing your clients then your business will succeed.
Any memorable or rewarding Thumbtack jobs you’d like to share?
A client called and wanted me to cook a romantic dinner to surprise his wife when she was coming back from a business trip. He said they’d been having a lot of problems and he hadn’t been showing his wife the love she needed.
I had the table set with candles, flowers, and nice china when his wife came through the garage door into the kitchen. When she saw me her frown turned into a smile.
They ate my food and talked for over 2 hours. I think they needed it … they both laughed and smiled throughout the entire meal.
I’m not a counselor or a therapist. I am a chef. All I could do was cook a memorable meal for them. The client told me he hadn’t done a romantic gesture like that in years. I told him it was a good start. When he thanked me, I knew he meant it. I am honored to do what I do because of meals like this.
Any specific advice for other chefs on Thumbtack?
Chefs know what they need to do to succeed in this business: Use their skills and go above and beyond. I always thank my clients for letting me into their home and into their kitchens to cook for them and their loved ones.
Being clean as a chef is priority #1. Clients don’t want a dirty chef in their home.
Being on time is also important. Always tell clients your timeline and communicate with them from beginning to end.
Cook your butt off and please the client and their guests with the best food possible. Remember they can hire anyone they want, but they chose you. If you overperform you will get more clientele and repeat customers.
What other tools do you use to market your business or find customers?
My website. I also always leave business cards on the table before I leave for guests if they need my services in the future.
Any last bits of advice?
I’ll say it again, without Thumbtack I wouldn’t have started my business successfully.
Prior to going solo, I was an executive chef in a restaurant and didn’t have to worry about getting clients. Starting my personal chef business, I needed clients. Thumbtack gave me the needed boost to lift off with my business. Thumbtack is the main reason I am still here as a personal chef and owner of My Culinary Table.