Word-of-Mouth and Referral Marketing Blog

Food Ecommerce Interview With Personal Trainer Food

Mike Starks, CEO of Personal Trainer Food

Mike Starks, CEO of Personal Trainer Food

Personal Trainer Food is a meal delivery program that delivers healthy food right to your doorstep, anywhere in the USA. We managed to get hold of their CEO, Mike Starks, to answer a few of our burning questions. Here’s how it went:


1. Hey Mike! You started out by preparing food for your wife. Did you know that it was going to be a sustainable business?

I had no clue this would become a business. I helped my wife, thought it was an anomaly, tested it on a group of teachers and they all lost a lot of weight.

2. Did you have any prior experience in running a business?

Yes, I have started and owned 6 prior businesses. My other companies? Healthcare, advertising, medicine, brokering, service industry…a broad range indeed.

3. What were some of the challenges you faced in scaling up the business to cater to so many customers?

Marketing was definitely the challenge. Now keeping up with growth is just as challenging. We have a lot of moving parts in our logistics center and packaging facility.

4. That actually sounds quite interesting! Could you tell us more about that?

Since we are food manufacturing / distribution facility, we fall under certain government regulations which means special equipment, policies and rules. Our logistics is tied directly into 8 outside vendor CRM systems, and our floor ops are somewhat complex since we work in a large freezer environment. Freezer warehouses change the rules of the game.

5. It is stated on your website that your re-order rate is 60-70%! What’s your secret?

Our secret is:

a. Great Food

b. Great service

c. Great Value

d. Great Results

e. Sincere & Passionate Employees

6. We see many people blogging and talking about PTF online; was word-of-mouth a key part of your marketing strategy?

Marketing in the Diet space is tough because for years there have been so many imposters and women have become very savvy and cautious. Diet is religion to them and understanding their trigger points and ‘BS’ meter is continually changing. ReferralCandy has helped us spread the word at a cost and service second to none. Women spread the word and tools like ReferralCandy make our jobs much easier because friends trust friends.

7. PTF has a pretty outstanding referral program; what made you decide to adopt one in the first place? How did you come to know about referral programs?

Women are networking machines. When they like something, they are communicative creatures of habit. We felt like with a good referral program in place and the quality of our product, we could generate very positive results. We learned about referral programs via good ol’ Google.

8. Any tips on running a referral program for those others who might be interested?

Yes, first…use ReferralCandy. We looked at others and theirs was the simplest to initiate and manage. Also, very reasonably priced. Second, have someone dedicated to managing it.

9. You’re too kind. :p Finally, what are your future plans for Personal Trainer Food?

My future plans for PTF? I don’t like numbers as a target but I do like them as a historical metric. We are extremely passionate about our methodology and our product. Our biggest reward is the lives we change. Since so many people in America are overweight and confused, I do believe our room for growth is currently unlimited. Our growth this year is over 400% and we will likely see another strong year in 2014. Companies like ReferralCandy add value to our model because ‘it works’. We have tried so many different marketing methods and 99.9% of them are ineffective. ReferralCandy is extremely effective and will be part of our future growth strategy.


What we found interesting:

  1. Mike already had business experience. Lots of people get business ideas all the time, but it’s typcially the execution that makes all the difference.
  2. Scaling up is complicated! Regulations, warehousing, external vendors! It’s never as simple as it looks on the surface.
  3. Great product, Great service, Great Value, Great Results, Sincere & Passionate Employees.”  The fundamentals of a good business are always fairly consistent.
  4. Did you see how fit Mike is? Just one data point here, but his own personal fitness definitely makes the product feel more trustworthy.

Check out Personal Trainer Food at personaltrainerfood.com!


Samuel Hum

Samuel Hum

As a finalist in Esquire's Best Dressed Real Man contest, Samuel is ReferralCandy's fashion eCommerce expert and resident sartorialist. He is obsessed with human behavior, social psychology, and handstands. He is also the lead calisthenics trainer at Weightless.

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