Editor's note: This article was excerpted from the Personal Concierge start-up guide, available from Entrepreneur Bookstore.
A personal concierge service runs on the most basic of premises. People want things done but don't have the time to do them. But they're happy to pay someone to take care of their business efficiently and with a touch of class. Why not let that someone be you?
Although personal concierge services are a fairly recent development, the number of companies that serve time-starved clients is mushrooming, right along with customer demand for such businesses. One San Francisco-based concierge business saw its client base double in 1996 and continue to grow up to 50 percent annually for several years after that. Some 2,000 miles away, a Chicago concierge firm that began with 25 clients in 1997 grew to service more than 85 clients in just a few years. Membership in the National Association of Professional Organizers, which includes some professionals who provide concierge services, swelled from a few hundred when founded in 1985 to more than 1,100 members by the late 1990s.
Why the booming demand for concierges and organizers? A big reason is that most people have accumulated so much stuff--both in the workplace and in their homes. Just glance at your desk or kitchen counter, and you'll probably see stacks of papers, bills, correspondence, etc. In fact, in a recent survey by Steelcase, a leading designer and manufacturer of office furnishings, 27 percent of office workers described themselves as "pilers," while 12 percent described themselves as pack rats. Taking care of all that "stuff" requires time and organization. Some people need help just to get organized; others could manage the paperwork if they weren't saddled with so many other chores. That's when they turn to (or would like to be able to turn to) professionals to help keep them organized, run errands, and see to it that business and personal obligations are met.
Although it's no secret that the personal concierge field is booming, hard numbers are difficult to come by. The National Concierge Association, a Chicago-based group that was founded in the late 1990s as a networking and resource organization for both personal and hotel concierges, doesn't yet track numbers or statistics pertaining to the industry. Cynthia A., a former hotel concierge who runs her own personal concierge business in San Diego, estimates there are a few hundred personal concierges throughout the United States, along with thousands of hotel concierges. Several other personal concierges and concierge consultants agreed with that estimate but said the number of personal concierges is growing fast.
According to Sara-Ann Kasner, president and founder of the National Concierge Association, "The concierge business is exploding right now. There has been tremendous growth." Personal concierges and industry analysts say there is plenty of room for even more growth.
Read Starting Your Own Business for the nitty-gritty business details that can make your business a success.