By Katharine C. Giovanni, CCS
1. Do a business plan. It really doesn’t matter how short or long it is, nor does it have to be fancy with colored charts. However, you really should do one so that you know where you are going, what you are doing and how you’re going to get there.
2. Create your brochure, business cards and website. This can all be done on a shoestring with today’s software, but having them is a vital part of a business. You can obtain some terrific free business cards by visiting www.vistaprint.com, and you can do a website pretty inexpensively as well. If you don’t want to do it yourself (many people use WordPress), here are a few links to some “instant” website creation sites where you can have a site up in minutes via www.godaddy.com or www.intuit.com.
3. Get some business liability insurance! Please don’t start a business without it. You can also join www.ICLMA.org and visit their members library to see a list of insurance companies who have written policies for the industry. Annual dues are inexpensive and ICLMA’s member only forums in Facebook and LinkedIn are incredibly valuable!
4. Legal Documents – contracts, agreements, etc… Get this right the first time and you won’t have to put out fires in the future. You’ll need both client contracts as well as vendor agreements.
5. Do NOT quit your job, go out and rent an office, buy or rent furniture and hire employees. THINK ABOUT IT FIRST! First and foremost, you need to be able to feed your family and pay your bills so make sure that you have either enough money saved to last you at least 6 months, possibly even a year worth set aside or you have some other form of steady income flowing into your household.
6. Find a target market! There are so many niches for this business that you might be tempted to do them all when you first open up. However, I strongly suggest that you choose one or two niche markets and go after them first. Do them well and then you can choose a few more. If they don’t do well after six months (or they tank completely), then you have hundreds of other niches to choose from! Choose a new niche and then re-focus, re-work your business and then re-launch! The key here is to never ever give up!!! Some niches around the country include hospitals, small/medium/large companies, condominiums, shopping malls, airports, office buildings, neighborhoods, individuals, colleges/universities, country clubs, senior market and more. I could go on and on there are so many out there!
7. Market, market, market … join your local chamber of commerce, networking groups … get out there and shake people’s hands and tell them what you do! Talk it up everywhere you go. Attend as many expos and receptions that you can! I think face-to-face marketing is key when starting up a business … so talk it up people!!
8. Social media … Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn … a GREAT way to grow your business and gain trust without spending a dime.
9. Be warm, friendly, approachable and extremely courteous 100% of the time. This is the key to being a great concierge! People may not remember what you did for them, but they will always remember how you made them feel and how you treated them. Customer Service is the hallmark of the concierge industry … over-the-top unbelievable customer service. I think everyone should build a customer service plan. You should talk about every day, not just once in a while! It’s a way of life and something that you practice every minute of your life and in every facet of your business.
10. Get professionally trained. Since most concierge are not professionally trained, this will help you stand out from the crowd. Triangle’s acclaimed certificate courses are well known within the industry and will help get you some credentials.
Lastly, Keep your focus on where you are going … and not on what is hitting the fan at any particular moment. KNOW that you can do this!! See the future that you want, daydream about it and see yourself being there!!!