The In Crowd

The Sooner, The Better

Quick cash, fast food, drive-thru, speed service-call it what you will, but when customers want it, you'd better provide it immediately. Consumers are placing more importance than ever on time and convenience. No longer are time and money being calculated in the traditional sense, as money saved by consumers driving out of their way to save a buck, but rather as minutes spent away from the family. The Families & Work Institute reveals 70 percent of parents feel they don't spend enough time with their children and have less time for personal activities. If you can provide customers with a timesaving option, they'll pay for it. This translates into anything from delivery services and house calls to drive-thru windows and easy-access express locations, especially for service establishments that are traditionally inconvenient, such as pharmacies and dry cleaners. Some of the more unusual convenient services we've seen? How about drive-thru viewing at a Compton, California, mortuary or a scooper service for pets' lawn deposits?

One sure bet on the convenience angle is helping clients organize their busy lives. Check out two current hot businesses: concierge services and personal chef. Another growing profession is personal organizers; membership in the National Association of Professional Organizers has climbed from about 800 members in 1996 to close to 1,100 today.

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This article was originally published in the January 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: The In Crowd.

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