Starting your own senior concierge business can be easy and quick, or it can be a slow and drawn-out process. Why suffer? Follow these ten steps to make your concierge business startup easy, painless and speedy.
Step 1. Choose services to offer.
Making a list of the services you plan to offer is an essential first step, so you need to think about what may be needed and what is in demand in your area. Some folks specialize in running errands, others enjoy household management, and others love to do grocery shopping, care for pets, provide escort services or help seniors with computer challenges. There are over twenty in-demand, popular services that a senior concierge can provide. Ask other senior care providers what services are most needed in your town. When you’re done, make up a list that can be a part of your flyer or brochure, or an advertisement on Craigslist or on a website. It’s a good idea to add this at the end of the list: “If you don’t see a service you need – just call and ask if we offer it.” This allows you to make sure you are meeting the needs of all your prospective clients, as you’re bound to miss a few in-demand services when you make up that list.
Step 2. Name your business.
Now you’re ready to name your senior concierge business. Think of something catchy and memorable. Examples include: “At Your Service,” “One Call Does It All,” and “On The Run For You.” Pick a name that is easy to spell and remember, and consider adding the name of your town, or even your own name, in the business name. Ask for feedback from friends and family. Do they like it? Check with your state officials to make sure no one else is using your name, and that it hasn’t been registered or trademarked already.
Step 3. Don’t spend money!
Resist the urge to spend money when you’re starting your business. Ask yourself “Do I really need this?” before you buy anything. If you have a reliable vehicle and a cellphone, you’ve already got the essentials you need. Keep your office at home to avoid spending money on rent, utilities and other costs for a separate office. Think and act like a miser until your business income is steady and solid.
Step 4. Legal structure.
When you start an senior concierge business, it’s important to pick the right legal structure for the new business. Most concierge businesses operate as a sole proprietor or as an L.L. C. You’ll find lots of free advice about the picking the right option for you at Nolo.com. Whatever you decide, get this pinned down first, before you apply for a business license, or get a federal tax number.
Step 5. Insurance.
The right coverage is essential for protection in case of a lawsuit or claim. Talk to a local independent insurance agent to find out what is required in your state for a concierge business.
Step 6. Set your rates.
Many new senior concierges make the mistake of not charging enough to cover all their costs, as they haven’t been in business long enough to be aware of all the little costs, like licenses, bookkeeping fees, social security taxes, vehicle maintenance or insurance, all of which can add up over time. A good rule of thumb is to add about 30-35% to the wages you’ll be paying yourself, to arrive at a reasonable rate that allows you a profit and still makes your clients happy. National rates vary from around $20 an hour in small towns and rural areas to as much as $50 an hour in big cities.
Step 7. Finding customers.
After you’ve set up your business and listed the services you plan to offer, start looking for customers. You’ll only need a few good ones. Local senior service providers are often a good source of referrals. Those include senior care providers in assisted living communities and nursing homes, elder law attorneys, and those who work and volunteer at the local senior center.You can run a free ad on Craigslist to find new clients, as well as advertise in local Over-55 community newsletters. You should also put up a flyer or leave a few brochures at the senior center.
As soon as possible, set up a simple website, because many computer-savvy seniors, as well as the adult children of seniors, now regularly use the internet to find service providers.
Step 7. Referrals.
Once you have your first few clients and have treated them well for a while, ask them for referrals. Tell them you’re still growing your business, and could use a few more good clients like them. Offer a reward, like two free grocery shopping trips, in return for a referral that becomes a regular client.
Step 8. Provide exceptional service.
If you take care of your senior clients, they will tell others and you’ll never have to advertise again. Always try to practice the Golden Rule and treat your clients they way you would want to be cared for if you were in their shoes.
Step 9. Stay organized and save money.
There are several online programs that help you keep up with your business bookkeeping and your job schedule. My favorite, which makes keeping track of your small business finances easy, even if you can’t add or subtract, is Outright.com, now part of GoDaddy. The cost is way below what you would pay a bookkeeper, around $12 a month, and it has a built-in scheduling feature that can track your work hours and prepare an invoice for a client. . It even reminds you when taxes are due, or when you miss a deduction, like the 55 cents per mile for business mileage.
Step 10. As Michael Jordan says, “Just Do It!”
Follow these simple steps, and you’ll be on your way to owning your own senior concierge business. To discover more about this business, read: How To Start a Profitable Senior Concierge Service.