Dave Cavanaugh found Thumbtack planning his wedding, then used it to build his business as a wedding officiant. How? Dave left the tech industry to follow his heart and marry his dream woman in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. The move coincided with the opening of gay marriage in Idaho and he saw an opportunity for officiants like himself who were willing to provide same-sex ceremonies to couples. Here’s how he differentiates himself from competitors.
What do you suggest for people just getting started?
Flesh out your profile as much as possible by explaining who you are and what you do. Upload photos. Get certified with the Better Business Bureau. Do everything you can to differentiate yourself from other vendors.Get people to fill out reviews.
How can people expand their business on Thumbtack?
Work for the credentials that set you apart, like Top Pro on Thumbtack. I was also rated the #2 wedding officiant in Spokane, which I have listed on my profile and use on my business cards and website.
How do you think about setting your business apart?
Understand your competition. Who else is bidding wedding officiant jobs in the Spokane area? Who is the number one person and the number three person? Who is serving Northern Idaho and Eastern Washington? I’m relatively new to the area and profession, but as I learn, I get an idea of who the others are and see what they’re doing.
Any guidance for other wedding officiants on Thumbtack?
Make sure you’re following up and treating it as a relationship, not simply a job. Raise the quality and expectation of the entire profession. Unfortunately, I hear a lot about experiences where wedding officiants are no-shows. Even if you’re unable to make the job, communicate with the client. Be professional.
What are your other marketing tools?
In our town, the courthouse wedding recorder has a list of people who perform ceremonies. I got on that list. Surprisingly, I have one of the few functional websites of the people on the list, so I end up getting jobs from there. Word of mouth referrals also bring me jobs.
How much does networking matter to your business?
Surprisingly, those people you think are your competitors are actually your allies. I’ve gotten a lot of referrals from one of the largest providers in Spokane because you can’t be everywhere at once. I’m also part of a professional association here in North Idaho and another in Spokane. Locally, there’s a printed Wedding Resource Guide that I’m in for the next edition. My next step is expanding via social media and connecting with wedding planners.
Do you have a favorite work story?
I was an officiant for an older couple, probably in the 60s, who found love later in life. They wanted something simple and were holding the ceremony in tandem with her father’s birthday. Her father was in his 80s. It was an intimate family affair. After the ceremony, the woman invited me to stay, celebrate, and become part of this beautiful family affair. We connected on a much richer level than just on a client basis.
I always do a follow up after the event, to let clients know their paperwork has been sent in, etc. When I did so, the bride said she wanted me to come back and do a renewal for them each year at their house in Spokane. It was such a special connection that was more than I ever expected.
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