For consumers, the main selling point of a concierge business is the convenience offered by its range of services. Entrepreneur Cynthia Adkins knows this well: After working for eight years as a concierge, the owner of Concierge@Large in San Diego has fulfilled her share of oddball requests. One client asked Adkins to find a used golf-green mower because he wanted to turn his backyard into a putting green. She did locate such a mower, but it wasn't easy. "It's not something you can just open up the phone book and find," says Adkins, 39. "The key to being a good locator is being resourceful to begin with and then having resources to draw on."
Adkins also capitalizes on the tremendous growth in the number of telecommuters and homebased businesses by offering clients what she calls "a virtual assistant service," in which one of her employees performs the duties of a personal assistant or secretary. "There are so many people telecommuting and working at home, and they don't have staffs to call on," says Adkins. "What we offer is an executive assistant you talk to via the Internet or the phone. They do things such as set up meetings and make follow-up calls. As long as everyone is comfortable using the technology, it's something that can be easily arranged."
Another service Adkins offers is posing as a "mystery shopper." A client, usually a retail or service business, will arrange for Adkins or one of her employees to go to a store, act like an average customer and report back to the client on the quality of their treatment by employees.