Frequently asked questions from people planning starting or just starting out in this business:
I have been in business for a month now and nothing is happening, what am I doing wrong?
It can and most likely will take months of networking in order for you to see the results of this business. Unfortunately this business does not fall under the category "if you build it, they will come" many errand runners learn this the hard way. By expecting too much too soon, you may find yourself disappointed it is more important that you set your immediate goals on spreading the word about your business. Meeting people and networking.
There is a link on this board to an article I put together on networking, I am going to put a link to it for you here.
Once you have serviced a client a few times, they will begin to talk about you.
Just yesterday I had to go pick up a dog I am watching for 5 days. The client was going out of town and had lots to do, I had to meet her at her hair dressers to pick up the dog. While I was outside getting the little pooch from her car, the client was telling her hairstylist all about me. When I came back in she asked for cards and brochures. The hair stylist said "I have lots of clients who could use your services." and the trail begins.
I may not hear from one of her clients for weeks or months. OR EVER, but I am getting out there and I am doing a good job and people tell other people and so on.
Getting clients begins with networking. Many people do ads and flyers and handout all over town and some have good results. I have had excellent results through networking and formed relationships and gained a circle of clients who know each other who know me and it grows weekly.
I hope that you will set your goals on spreading the word and feel joy from those accomplishments. If you do that, the rest will come. Be it slowly or rapidly it will happen. You just need to be patient, be out there and be proud of yourself and have confidence in what you are doing.
Do I collect money upfront when I go shopping for a client, or do I collect it upon delivery?
For me, I shop for the client and then collect money upon delivery of the product. However, there are times when I go to a clients to get a list (elderly with no fax or email) and they pay me what they think the items will cost upfront. I deliver change upon delivery of product.
It may take you some time to feel comfortable purchasing items on others behalf. But, most of your clients (in the future) will come from referrals so you can feel more comfortable about it. I have NEVER had someone not pay me for an item I picked up for them.
I have clients I buy stamps for and then do mail process work - I send them a bill for the entire job, including the stamps.
You may find yourself spending too much time if you go to get the money and then do the shopping and then back to deliver. Remember - it is all about TIME.
How much should I Charge?
This is probably the most asked question. I address the answer in the book. But, let me state here how I would go about determining prices if I were you.
First, if there are other services in your area, inquire about their prices.
Second, take a look at your local want ads. There are even some job descriptions that include running errands. (look under administrative assistant or clerical). See what these jobs are paying. You will need to add a few dollars per hour to cover your costs.
I charge between $15 and $20 an hour. My prices are all over my website and you can see exactly what I charge for what. Some other errand services feel I charge too little. So, if you have a higher rate per hour in mind, go for it!
Can I do this around my children’s schedule (school day)
It is very feasible to run this business around the fact that our kids are in school. I run mine this way. However, there are times when errands are needed after school hours. You can inform your client that the kids are coming - they are usually fine with it (personal clients, really, business clients, you must use your best judgment) You don’t want to bring your kids into other people’s houses (judgment call). I have clients who I have worked for for many years and I bring my kids in their house. But, that is different - cuz we have a relationship now.
I take my kids when I have to. My husband is also very supportive and if it is at a time when he is home, we’ll all go together, or I leave them with him.
Can I Cut back during the summer when my kids are out of school?
As far as cutting back during the summer. You won’t like my advice here. If you are going to start a business - that is exactly what it is - A business. You have to be willing to make a balance, and make some sacrifices. I do send my kids to day camps and they love it . They are now 7 and 9. They do not in any way consider that I am sending them off. I am not. I am giving them an adventure for the summer days. I send my son to surf camp where he lives at the beach for a whole week. He loves it - I don’t do it for work reasons, but it sure comes in handy.
I set my mind-frame that I don’t make as much money in the summer because camps cost money. I have compromised with my family and business.
You can’t have it all, but you can have ALMOST all. But, if you want to BUILD a business, you can’t turn people away during the summer. You won’t BUILD that way and this business is one you build. I have found that with my group of clients I have a successful business that keeps me BUSY BUSY BUSY. If you do a great job, after about a year there may be no need to market. You can get your clients from referrals and your work will be repeat and referral.
You can’t do this business halfway and expect it to work. It has to be important enough to make sacrifices for and for me at least - You must have the support of your family to make a go of it. If they are not behind you and they are not pulling for you every step of the way, you will have a tough go of it.
Should I offer People Transport?
I do not offer this service.
1. the liability is pretty great.
2. You need special insurance for transporting of people - almost like if not exactly like a taxi service.
I personally would never hire some one to pick up my kids and would only trust them to someone I know and have a relationship with. But, I was asked to do it for an elderly woman to her hair stylist. I told her daughter that I did not have the proper insurance to cover any loss should we be in an accident. I told her and she understood that not enough people request the service to justify the cost of insurance. I stated casually that we could sign a release of liability (because this was going to be in conjunction with other services that I wanted to offer this client). She seemed to have casually accepted it. She was in the investigation stages of trying to figure out what to do with her mother. She did not call back, so I can't give you a final result.