I started Lifestyle Elements in 2004 at the age of 23. I had no idea what I didn't know. What I did know was that I had personally experienced (through working as a nanny for a professional single mum) the challenges women in particular face when trying to do it all and balance work and life. I had delivered a personal service to my employer which I realised could be translated into a business. A personal concierge business.
Here I want to give you my top 8 insights into starting and running a personal concierge business. This is going to short, sharp and something to get you thinking. I'll expand on those that resonate the most in future posts.
Let me preface this by saying that I'm not going to hold back. I absolutely love this industry. I love the work we do, the clients who use us, and my peers in industry. Yet it's not for everyone. It's hard work and requires a very unique set of skills. I want to give you the heads up before you go and spend too much time and money on something that isn't quite right for you. I'm not saying don't give it a try, but I have learnt a few things in my time, and I want to share them with you.
1. Even now, almost 12 years later, the majority of people don't know what a personal concierge is.
There is huge opportunity here. There is no doubt people are time poor. They're looking for help, but the concept of a personal concierge is not yet mainstream. Our potential clients don't know what they don't know....yet...and I think that is very exciting! This means a lot of your time and marketing is spent on educating people about what you do and why you do it. When they get it, it is amazing! It just takes time.
2. Yes, we get how amazing what we can offer is, but this doesn't mean you will be inundated with clients straight away.
You may be and that is fantastic (please share your secret with me!). However, if you deliver an amazing service and remain persistent, you will build up a strong and loyal client base which will grow and develop with you.
3. Don't pay for advertising.....yet.
As mentioned above, the majority of people don't know what a personal concierge is. Trying to explain what exactly we can do in a small ad (because really, you can probably only afford a small, tiny ad) is virtually impossible. I would save the money and hit the ground, networking and meeting with as many people as possible. I've said it before and I'll say it again, networking is the number one way I find new clients, even now. This being said, I'm not opposed to trialling Facebook advertising or Google AdWords, but please monitor these closely to ensure you are getting a good return on investment.
4. Insurance is a huge cost but I can't emphasise enough how important it is.
Thankfully I haven't had to access my public liability or professional indemnity insurance (yes you need both - read here). However, the unique nature of our business means there is a lot of scope for things to go wrong, and for it to involve something rather pricey (a bingle in a Mercedes, a broken Versace plate, a diamond ring missing from cleaning). Plus, insurance provides your clients with an immense amount of trust which is very important.
5. You'll have quiet times and crazy times.
Especially at the start of my business, things seemed to go from one extreme to the other. At first I would be worrying because I didn't have enough work. The next minute I had forgotten something or made a mistake because things were so busy and I was doing it on my own. To be honest, this still happens now (although I'm not doing it all on my own). Thankfully there is a lot more of the stuff in between to pad out the spectrum. The key is not to panic, address your mistakes, and implement marketing strategies (preferably free or low cost) to increase your business. This is a whole blog post in itself, but I just want you to know that the craziness is part of the deal when you're a personal concierge. You either need to embrace it, or find another business (sorry to be blunt, but aren't you glad you know this now).
6. Pricing is important but don't get bogged down in it.
I talk about pricing a lot, especially in our forum and facebook group. The number one thing is to set a price (not too low) and go with it. You can always change it. You can change it three times in the same week if you want (preferably going in the upwards direction!). I once had a client who asked me to double my price (yes you read that correctly). Unless you are pricing yourself way too low or way too high, in general if you sell the benefits of your service to your target market, they will get over the price pretty quickly once they realise all the time you can save them. (If you need more help we have a 'How to set your pricing' training within The Concierge Secret Society).
7. Yes you need a website. No it doesn't need to be perfect.
So many people wait until their website is 'live' to start their business. Why? You can set a facebook page up in five seconds. Go on - do it now! Look, I do generally recommend you have a website before you start. Register your domain, get a landing page up with your contact details. But the rest of it doesn't have to be perfect. You can do it yourself with wordpress (I do this with all my websites). For some reason the website (perfect and in it's entirety) becomes people's official launch date. Often times this drags things out for weeks and months (I've heard this so many times!). You could 'officially' start your business right now if you wanted it badly enough. Decide on your name (and no, please don't take another 3 weeks to work this out - you can always change it!) and set up a Facebook page. It's that easy. Don't make it too hard for yourself. Oh, and go and read this post as I go into a lot more detail about just starting.
8. Focus on a niche.
In our industry this is so important. It may take you a few years to work this out if I'm honest, but I would be starting out with something fairly solid in mind right from the start. What we offer is simply so broad that being all things to all people becomes like a department store as opposed to a boutique. If you're trying to attract busy professional women, divorced men, retired doctors, and real estate agents all at the same time, not only are you going to drive yourself mad, you are going to totally dilute your message and make it almost impossible for you to attract your ideal client. I'm all about finding your ideal client so that you can deliver an amazing service, doing what you love, to people who 'get it'. I suggest you head to our content library, register for free, and download my ebook 'Defining Your Ideal Concierge Client' before you do anything else (except maybe publish your Facebook page - go on, do that now!).
I could probably write 50 or 100 of my top insights (and I probably will in a future post) but I think the eight that are here are the pertinent ones that will really get you thinking.
Want to know what I wish I had when I was starting out? A community! A community who actually got what being a concierge was all about, and who were supportive, informative and motivating!
Being a personal concierge is amazing, stressful, fun, challenging and oh so rewarding. It's for a unique type of person, and I love it. If you think you're that unique type of person (even if you are hesitating) I suggest you take a look at our Concierge Secret Society membership - the community I wish I had when I started. This is where I provide you with nitty gritty details in our forums (and can personally answer your questions) as well as recordings of 1 hour long video interviews with experienced personal concierge business owners. Plus there's a library of templates and resources, as well as private accountability groups and member only challenges. If you want to be a personal concierge, I want to help you be amazing! I'd love to have you join us. SIGN UP HERE!
P.S. There are hour long interviews with other experienced personal concierge business owners inside The Concierge Secret Society which give you even more amazing insights on what it's like to run a personal concierge business.