Christopher Doran is serious about fitness, which is why he started a personal training company in Washington state with the same name. With the help of Thumbtack, he’s been able to find new clients and help them reach their fitness goals, while making them feel important, engaged, motivated, and accomplished. Learn how he uses Thumbtack to turn potential clients into paying customers and what he thinks are the most important keys to success.
How did you get started with Thumbtack?
I was one of the early birds. I got an email way back in 2009 saying “We’re a new company with a new way to find customers” and I figured what did I have to lose? That was seven years ago when Thumbtack took a percentage of the sale; now it’s really evolved to be more of a lead service than a service that takes a finder fee.
What’s been the key to your success as a Thumbtack Top Pro?
The number one thing is to be as prompt as possible. If you sit around and don’t reply, the potential customer will go shopping somewhere else. But I also make it as interactive as possible. I live in an area that’s saturated with fitness facilities—there are 27 within in a one-mile radius—there are more training gyms here than there are Starbucks! I get a message when they open up the initial quote and within 15 minutes, I write another note that says, “Hi, let me know if you have any questions.” I always try to reply again fairly quickly, so they know I’m present.
What do you wish you had known when you first started?
Don’t spend a lot of time making the interactions different for each person and have a set standard message. I give 10-15 quotes a day, so it’s important to be quick. Also, if you say five different things to five different people, you don’t know what’s working and what’s not.
The biggest thing though is to know what you do. I don’t do body building. I don’t do cardio classes. I’m a personal trainer. So when I see someone looking for body building or spin classes, I’m not going to waste my money and time giving them a quote because that’s not what I specialize in.
How much of your work is from Thumbtack?
At least 70 percent of my new business in the last two years came from Thumbtack. It’s a staggering number, and it shows that Thumbtack is definitely worthwhile.
What are your best tips for getting reviews on Thumbtack from customers?
When you mark yourself as hired, the client gets asked for a review pretty quickly, but I made it so mine don’t get it for two weeks because I want my clients to experience my scope of work, so that they have at least four or five workouts and really know what it’s like. I didn’t fix their washing machine; I’m spending time with them and their body.
I mark my calendar so that if I don’t see a review come through after two weeks, I remember to go to the client and say, “It would really help me out if you could write a review.” People really want to know what starting with a personal trainer is like, so I ask my clients to write about what the sales process was like and what their first couple of workouts were like.
What is your strategy for writing winning quotes and following up with leads?
When I first started, I was trying to make everything individualized, but I was spending too much time, so now everyone gets the same message that I cut and paste. I insert their name and send it off.
If a potential client looks at the quote, I’ll send them a follow-up message within 15 minutes. If they don’t, I’ll send a short and sweet follow-up message within a day. I don’t sell anything to them. It’s just a cut and paste of here’s who I am, here’s what I do, and if you like it, I’d love to see you. I don’t have any “start now” type of messaging because a lot of the trainers in my area will do a hard sell and I’ve heard that doesn’t work out very well.
I’m also really, really, really available. When they’re shopping they’re shopping, so if it’s 10:30 at night, you’ve got to be there with them. Don’t think they’re going to wait around for you because they won’t.
Any specific advice for other personal trainers on Thumbtack?
Thumbtack does a good job of giving a notification that someone’s seen your quote, but you have to respond. I’ve had people tell me they got their matches, but then they never hear a word back from a single trainer and the reasons they came in to see me because I kept inquiring and following up.
What has Thumbtack let you do that you wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise?
The app really allows me to be mobile and flexible. I can sit at dinner on Friday night and my phone buzzes with a lead and, in my industry, I have to take that lead. I open up the app, push “last message I sent.” The name automatically fills in, and then I scroll to make sure everything looks good and push send. It takes 20 seconds, but it means I’m not missing those potential clients.
What’s a rewarding job you go through Thumbtack?
It’s not the biggest success story in the world, but we have a guy who’s 65, had a hip replacement, is 30 pounds heavier than he wants to be, and has history of fitness, but also has 30 years of being out of shape. A month or two ago, I asked him why he decided to use Thumbtack because he doesn’t seem to fit the demographic at all. He’s not tech-savvy and seems like he’d be at a generic gym because that’s where he was told to go.
He said, “I used Google and Thumbtack popped up and they made it really easy.”
So I asked him, “Well why’d you choose us?”
He said that he did his due diligence. He went to all the places that gave him quotes and did his thing, and when he came into my place, he said, “I felt like you guys knew everything about the body and that I could get lots of different styles of training instead of just one kind.”
Now he’s been working with us five months and he’s more comfortable and confident. He’s getting stronger, he’s losing the weight, and he’s not in pain. It’s not the biggest success story, but you couldn’t paint a better picture for how if you follow the process, it really works.
[Photos via Christopher Doran]