Most of those who start a senior concierge business do so because they love helping others.. But they still need to make a living, doing all the tasks a concierge can do for their senior clients, like running errands, shopping or helping a client with bill paying or email. The best way to ensure a solid, growing income is to stay productive and bill for all your on-the-job time.
You can have all the clients you want, but if you don’t price and bill your services right, you’re leaving money on the table. Lots of money! To help prevent that from happening to you, here are a few secrets that will help you earn more from your senior concierge service every month:
1. Don’t give your time away.
When you’re just starting out, you probably lack confidence, which can lead to under-valuing your time and charging less than you should. To build your confidence, call a few concierge services in your area, or go online to find them. Find out how much they charge for their services. This exercise will give you a better idea of the going rates and often prompt you to raise your own hourly rates to match what others are charging.
2. Charge two rates.
There are dozens of services to offer your clients. Some, like using your computer skills to help a client learn how to use their computer, are worth more than easier tasks, like running errands. For example, if the going rate for computer advice in your area is $50 an hour and your “base” hourly rate is $25, consider charging a premium rate, such as $35 an hour, for your specialized skills. It’s a win-win, as your client gets those specialized skills at a discount, and you get a premium hourly rate. Find enough “premium” skills, and you could increase your income substantially.
3. Reduce your down time.
Cut “down time” to increase your billable hours. Never forget that you cannot charge a client unless you are actually doing something for them. When a client cancels at the last minute, you probably will not be able to find another billable job on such short notice. The solution? Mention in your service agreement that 24 hours advance notice is required for cancellation, to better allow you to organize your schedule in advance. If a client cancels without sufficient advance notice, charge a cancellation fee. Some concierges charge the entire amount they would have been paid for the job, while others simply charge a fee equal to one hour of their time. There will always be an occasional un-planned cancellation, so you should keep a list of low-priority jobs that have no deadline, such as organizing a client’s garage, so you will have work to fill any gaps that open up in your schedule.
4. Don’t forget the “add-ons.”
Most clients are considerate, and recognize you have a life too. Others think nothing of calling you at 7 p.m., or on a holiday, to request your help. The best way to deal with this dilemma is to mention in your service agreement that you add an additional fee for work outside of normal business hours or on holidays. It could be a percentage of your hourly rate (a 50% increase is widely used) or a set dollar amount , such as $10 extra per hour. You can also apply an extra fee if a client needs “rush service,” such as groceries delivered immediately instead of when you had planned to deliver them.
5. Try to plan your trips for efficiency.
If you have 2 or 3 customers in the same over-55 community, for example, try to coordinate those errands to avoid multiple trips. This makes your day more productive, and reduces wear and tear on your vehicle. It also means more profits for your senior concierge business!
6. Get paid on time or in advance.
Your clients, naturally, will have “senior moments” and occasionally forget to include items on a grocery list, or forget to pay their bill at the end of the month. By providing a printed grocery list with all the common items needed at the grocery store, your client can check off what they want as they think of it, so they are less likely to need an extra trip to the supermarket.
To ensure you get paid promptly, try charging a “retainer” that covers the number of hours you would normally be working for that client. A retainer can be collected in advance so you get paid promptly, and any billing adjustments can be made when the next retainer is paid. Another strategy that works well is to use a “package” price, so a client can pre-pay for 10, 20 or 30 hours of service and receive a 10% discount. Again, you get your money up-front and clients who purchase a package tend to use your services more frequently. Win-win for both of you!
7. Don’t waste money on expensive advertising.
Rather than spending any money on newspaper ads, go where your clients are. Being seniors, they typically visit the local senior center and live in a senior community, such as an over-55 community. At both, you can usually run a repeating classified ad about your services in the monthly newsletter for a very small fee, or leave a few business cards or brochures at the senior center or clubhouse.
8. Use that smart phone!
To ensure you are always easy to reach at any time, always have your smart phone with you. Use the calendar app to schedule your days, and use a billing app to track your billable hours. Once a month, take the time to research new apps that you can use to help your concierge business stay productive. If you’re shopping for a client, call them on the spot if they need to choose between two colors, sizes or brands. Being available will also help with those clients who have last-minute requests for you.
These are just a few of the secrets that can help make your senior concierge business even more profitable, your clients happy that they found you, and prospects lining up to hire you. To discover even more secrets about this rewarding business, read: How To Start A Profitable Senior Concierge Service.