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Start an Errand Service

In today’s ‘fast-paced’ world, where everything is labeled fast from ‘fast food’ to ‘fast cash’, it is ironic how people are still starved for time. Although technology keeps advancing, where a task that took an hour in the past can be completed within minutes, so does the competition, and everybody is drawn into the rat race of this fast moving society, whether they like it or not. ‘Time’ still remains the most precious amenity in life.

As people become busier by the day, they find it harder to carry out their daily errands that take up a good part of their precious time. Most people simply do not have time for these daily chores and resort to hiring others to run these errands for them. This in turn has given rise to a high demand for ‘errand services’ in today’s world.

If you are a mom looking out for a home business idea to start on your own, an errand service would be a safe and reliable bet. The start up cost is next to nothing if you have the use of your own vehicle at your disposal. It is one of the simplest home businesses to start on your own, as it doesn’t require any special skills.

People need help with various tasks. From grocery shopping to picking up their dry cleaning, from gift shopping to gift delivery, from walking the dog to feeding the cat, and even waiting for the carpenter, deliveryman or the cable man, people seek help. As they struggle with time for more important tasks, the list of services required by them keeps increasing every day. So the market potential never diminishes for an errand service. The talent here is your ability to identify the needs of people and cater to them accordingly. This isn’t such a difficult task if you have got what it takes to succeed.

So what does it take to succeed in an errand service business? The proper outlook, self-confidence, honesty and decision making ability, and of cause a little creativity can get you very far in this non-specialized enterprise. It doesn’t require special skills at all. Of course perseverance and hard work are key points that apply to just about any home business and speak true in this case too. If you are willing to compromise certain liberties, and don’t mind working around your schedule, limiting some of your free time, then you can easily succeed in running an errand service of your own.

Before you get started, plan out your path. Decide on the type of errand service you wish to run. You can either start an odd job service for families or a more specialized, business related service for cooperate clients. Whichever you decide, plan it in advance, so that you won’t have to face unwanted difficulties due to improper forecasting. Think through all that is involved and make sure you have covered all groundwork. Do a bit of research on other such errand services, either in your own area, or read about them on the Internet. Figure out the types of services you can offer and what would be more appealing to you. Decide if you want to specialize in a certain area or provide a number of errand services, catering to both cooperate and home based clients.

More often, elderly or crippled people who are incapable of getting things done on their own will seek the help of errand services. Many errand services are based around such clients. New mothers are another client base you can target as potential clients. Most new mothers find themselves tied up with the duties of their newborns that need their undivided attention and suddenly find themselves incapable of handling their daily chores of grocery shopping, laundry picking etc. Your service will be of great solace to them. And many corporate clients too seek the service of errand runners for certain tasks that they prefer to be outsourced to such companies. Career oriented young couples are another potential client base for such businesses.

A few key points that should be given highlighted attention when you set out on starting your own errand service business:

Organization/Scheduling of Tasks

Learn to prioritize tasks and organize a ‘convenient’ schedule that allows you to carry out a maximum number of errands in a minimal time period. If one errand takes you to a certain part of town, schedule all other tasks that can be covered around the same area along with that task. This will save you a lot of time, fuel and energy. If you have kids and will have to take them along on your errands, make sure you can handle the extra burden and that your clients will not get affected by the presence of your kids. It’s always advisable to tag your children along only on behind the scene tasks, at least until you build the trust and confidence of the clients until they know you are reliable even with your kids in tow.

Marketing/Advertising

It is important to ‘publicize’ your enterprise. This can be done at a minimal cost by using resources around you. Start by posting flyers and business cards in local stores, businesses, community bulletin boards. Get your friends and family to hand them out for you at public areas. You can also tip your local paperboy to hand out flyers with the daily newspapers. Another inexpensive method would be to place a banner outside your house or use a ‘vehicle wrap’ (check http://www.topwraps.com/) advertising your business in your car/van that you use for your errand runs. Placing a classified add in your local newspaper would be enterprising too. Work out your advertising/marketing budget based on your finances, so that you will not go overboard and be faced with a dilemma. Workout extra budgets on advertising for the holiday season, as people need extra help with their gift shopping, etc during the holidays. It’s the best time to increase your client base.

Pricing/Profit Margins

Quote your prices based on the services you offer. You can charge by the hour or per call/errand. Or you can even offer monthly or weekly packages (especially for cooperate clients who have rigid/static errand calls). Remember to account for your expenses and pay special attention to the extra costs involved in certain cases. For example, if an errand takes you away from town for quite a distance, remember to account for the extra fuel costs involved. Also sanction for vehicle maintenance, overheads (such as phone bills, etc.), book keeping costs (especially if they are outsourced), parking expenses, advertising and even day care chargers for your children (on occasions when they cannot be tagged along on your errands). Do a bit of research and find out what other errand services are charging and quote your prices accordingly. It is disadvantageous to over-quote and under-quote. Professionalism is depicted in your pricing and under-quoting could down-grade your expertise.

Tread with care, but don’t be too cautious. Starting a business of your own definitely has its share of risks. But life in itself is a risk. So do not let ‘fear’ of failure hinder your dreams. With the proper optimistic outlook, you can overcome any obstacles. Believe in yourself and you can be a winner!

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