Back when I first started my home business, I longed to be a personal conciere. Running errands, and keeping people organized and efficient – sounded like a great gig. But, I was living in a very rural area. There wasn’t much need, and the travel costs involved wouldn’t make it very profitable or affordable.
But, for some lucky gal or guy out there, it’s perfect. And the target market is no longer just busy professionals with an overbooked schedule, it also now includes overstretched parents and the elderly.
Stephanie L. Howitt, Founder of SLH Lifestyle +Concierge, has stopped by to help us navigate how to start a personal concierge service business. You may be surprised to learn it’s not all that difficult
What Services to Offer
One of the big draws of personal assistance to me was the variety of tasks involved. Every day can be different. Most personal concierges are niched in either the type of clients they service or the type of services they offer.
- Grocery shopping
- Home organization
- Event planning
- Buying gifts
- Pet sitting and pet services (like dog walking)
- Running errands like picking up the kids or dry cleaning
- Travel arrangements and relocation services
- Appointment setting
- Internet Research
The list goes on and on. And most businesses in this industry offer a specialized yet diverse service list. Stephanie, for example, has a background in interior design. As a result, she told us she can offer “lifestyle consulting and design services in tandem with general concierge services to provide a complete lifestyle resource.
How to Start Your Business
When starting any business, there are a lot of essential things to consider:
- Do I need to form a business entity such as a limited liability company (LLC) or a sole proprietorship/DBA?
- Are there any local business licenses I will need?
- Do I need to register my business with my county or state?
- Do I need any permits?
- Do I need to carry liability and/or indemnity insurance?
These are things you should discuss with your tax preparer, attorney, or your local Small Business Development Center office. To get things started, prepare a simple business plan. While this isn’t always necessary if you won’t be applying for financial help, it can help you define your business and target market. B Plans has an example created for a personal concierge business. After you have settled on your business structure and obtained a Federal Tax ID number (FEIN,) you will be able to open your business bank account.
Show Me the Money
Depending on the services you offer and your location, you may be able to earn anywhere from $25 to over $100 per hour. Remember, people are paying you for giving them back time. The more time you can free up for them, the more you can charge. Many concierges charge by the month as opposed to billing hourly.
Startup costs are minimal, as are ongoing costs:
- Car Maintenance and repairs
- Self-employment taxes
- Accounting and legal fees
- Telephone or cell service
- Travel and restaurant reservations
- Internet service
- Setting up your home office
- Advertising (newspaper or yellow page listing, Facebook ads, etc.)
Where to Find Clients
It’s important to get out into your community to network and introduce yourself and your new career to potential clients. Stephanie started out offering her services to private residences. This not only helped her pay the bills as she built her business, but she was also able to adjust her business model to meet the needs of the clients she wanted to work with in the future. “When working within these residences, I began to observe the needs and wants of my clientele to determine the level of services that would be offered in combination with my previous experience and skill set.”
You should also consider local meetups and networking events. These are great places to meet other professionals and possibly joint venture partners.
- Rotary clubs
- Chamber of Commerce
There are so many sites these days to help you find clients. Some are free. Some charge a flat fee per listing. Some charge a percentage for every booking they refer you. I highly recommend creating your simple website to attract local clients, but you can also use the following services to meet new prospects.
You can find more on-demand freelance sites in our post, A to Z List of Where to Find Work in the On-Demand Economy.
As with any business, don’t overlook your best marketing tool – your clients and friends. A personal referral is cheaper yet more effective than any advertising you can purchase. As Stephanie told us, “referrals are wonderful because they already provide a level of trust and reliability for any concierge business!”
Understanding the Pros and Cons
This is a great time to be a service provider. Our busy lifestyles have made it acceptable and accessible for the middle class to hire help such as housecleaners, drivers, personal assistants, and nannies. These services were once considered a luxury only afforded by the upper class.
That being said, these services are often the first to be cut when times get tight. But don’t let that be a deterrent! Ride the wave and diversify during the lean times.
Where to Get Help
The concierge industry is still new and evolving. It may not have the training and professional organizations available that we see with some industries, but there is help available. Stephanie says, “The ICLM International Concierge and Lifestyle Management is a great resource for concierge companies. The association has a professional database and great professional resources for those starting out.
“It is important to stay aware of the hospitality industry as well as general lifestyle and travel trends.”
If you are just getting started, Stephanie has these words of wisdom, “I would advise any concierge beginner never to stop investing in themselves and their service and never to compromise their integrity or core values to get ahead. It’s important to maintain a level of optimism and internal motivation when setting corporate goals. Know wholeheartedly that everyone can achieve a level of success. However, the only way that one can do that is by first taking a chance. So take it.”