When it comes to finding the right customers for your business, no one rule applies. There’s a lot to consider when it comes to reading a customer’s request; everything from the location and size of the job, to the type of service the customer is asking for.
By setting preferences for the kinds of requests you receive, you can cut down on search time and focus your hard work (and quotes!) on the jobs you most want to win. Here’s what dozens of Top Pros told us about setting job preferences that win more business.
1. Focus on What You Do Best
When you set your preferences, put yourself in the customer’s shoes—ask what kinds of jobs you are the most qualified to do and only quote on jobs that fit within those service areas.
“In the beginning you’re going to get overwhelmed wanting to quote on every lead,” Minnesota-based painter Andy Gill cautions. “Be strategic and stick to what you do best.”
By quoting on jobs that are far outside their service area, pros risk putting themselves at a significant disadvantage. Chris Doran, a personal trainer, suggests that new pros stick to the services they’re qualified for, despite the temptation to expand into outside categories.
“Know what you do. I’m a personal trainer. I don’t specialize in bodybuilding or cardio classes so I don’t waste money on those requests,” Chris explains.
2. Pick a Travel Area That Makes Sense
Make sure that your travel and location preferences make sense for both you and the customer. If the customer is traveling to you, you should be close enough to make that trip worth their while. As Jennifer Kasmer, a personal trainer from Charlotte, North Carolina explains, “We always stay within a three mile radius of our studio. Clients will be training four or five times a week, so if you’re not just a stone’s throw away, you might get them but you won’t retain them.”
If you’re coming to the customer, evaluate your travel costs against the job’s value so you can decide whether it’s a project worth quoting. And if you’re receiving too many requests for jobs that aren’t worth the transit cost, it might be time to adjust your preferences.
Chris Grimes, a general contractor in California learned this lesson firsthand: “When I first started on Thumbtack my radius was set way too wide. I live just outside of Los Angeles, and traffic can end up costing you a lot of money.”
3. Use the App to Filter Your Requests
Use the Thumbtack for Pros app to quickly evaluate which jobs are worth quoting and which are not. The app helps you sort through requests based on service type, cost, location, and start date, so you can prioritize the jobs you value the most.
It’s an easy way to save time when sorting through requests—the kind of help junk removal specialists Jacob and Jennifer Kendrick wish they had known about sooner. “We wish we had known how many requests we’d receive so we wouldn’t have gotten overwhelmed with leads.”
4. Find Your Quoting Sweet Spot
Really successful Top Pros find a way to balance jobs of different sizes (and price points) in a way that makes sense for their business. Don’t be discouraged if this doesn’t happen right away —striking the right balance of big and small jobs can take time.
Maryland-based moving pro Daniel Poole describes how he learned to balance the kinds of services he offers. “My company does both moving and home installation work so my quotes are pretty different depending on what the customer is requesting. I always say that I can work same day for assembly jobs, because when people want their stuff put together, they want it done yesterday. The jobs are small so I limit them to a pretty close radius. Those jobs really add up but it takes time to figure out the proper ratio.”
Smaller jobs can transform into big opportunities in the long-run, as in the case of Jessica Miller, a home stylist from Des Moines, Iowa. Jessica started working smaller home styling jobs during the home staging offseason. “I started taking on home styling jobs that were easier to do, and I started working directly with homeowners, rather than realtors.” Over time, these jobs became the bulk of her business.
But taking on small jobs doesn’t necessarily mean lowering your prices. “Stay true to your worth. As a beginner you will have regrets, taking jobs that aren’t quite right, but you’ll find the right balance as you go. Be confident that you’re worth it and reassure yourself that prices do go up—and that it’s ok,” Jessica says.
5. Don’t Stop Adjusting Your Preferences
The more you use Thumbtack, the more you’ll learn about your ideal customer. As this understanding develops, keep going back to the drawing board to update your preferences based on those learnings.
When she started, personal trainer Regan-Janell Hales cast an extremely wide net for her services. Now, rather than competing in categories far outside of her specialty, Regan-Janell has fine-tuned her preferences to attract the customers she wants most—and the process is ongoing.
“In the beginning, comparing myself to other trainers cost me a lot of money and business,” the Atlanta-based personal trainer says. “Now I know the kind of clients I want to focus on—they’re the most constant and loyal of the people that I train.”
What you learn from adjusting your preferences can also help when it comes to perfecting your quotes. As tax accountant JR Gramstad explains, “The key to success is understanding our prospective clients. The better we know them, the more effectively we can craft our initial message.”