Concierges are famous for their resourcefulness. So when Catherine Tabor, the 29-year-old owner of Atlanta's My Gal Friday Inc., squandered much of her $5,000 of start-up capital on unneeded consulting services, the budget-challenged young entrepreneur knew she needed to be creative in her marketing campaign.
"I bought a book that lists the top 25 women-owned businesses in Atlanta and wrote letters to the CEOs," she says. "I figured, They're busy." The response? "People wrote back and said `Where have you been all my life?' " Tabor recalls with a laugh. For a while, she performed services for individuals, such as gift wrapping, grocery shopping and taking pets to the vet. That all stopped when a dream client, Coca-Cola, based in Atlanta, knocked on her door. Tabor's business, which brings in $350,000 a year, now provides concierge services to major corporations such as Delta Technology Inc. and Cox Enterprises.
It's helpful, but not necessary, to have previous industry experience before starting a personal concierge business. But, the pros say, it's essential to be skilled at online research, since many client requests--such as planning an affordable romantic weekend on Martha's Vineyard in the middle of summer or locating the best dog walker in a particular town--can be fulfilled by performing a Web search. Aspiring concierges must also be resourceful, energetic, efficient and extremely committed to providing great customer service.
Location is another important consideration when starting a personal concierge business. It should be situated in or near an urban area where both individuals and businesses have disposable income. Lentz admits she's struggling to get her business off the ground in Albuquerque, the 40th poorest city in the United States.