5 Business Lessons Learned From Your Dog?

Whether or not you believe a dog is “man’s best friend,” there are a number of lessons we humans can learn from our loving canines:

1) Sniff out the competition. Yes, I know – dogs take this one a little too far! In business, however, you need to determine all the ways your competition can keep YOUR revenues down. In the concierge industry, “other, local concierge” serving the same target customer is the easy answer. But other factors are potential customers’ lack of knowledge of the industry, their difficulty (due to the lack of knowledge) seeing the great value in using a concierge service, and the very-common human trait of not being able to let go of the control in doing tasks themselves – even when delegating them to a trusted professional.

2) Be friendly to everyone. Whether a friend or stranger, approach each person with genuine courtesy and kindness. Not only will you become more memorable to those you meet, resulting in referrals and increased business, but your day will be much brighter!

3) Loyalty is rewarded. A small amount of time nurturing current customer relationships are far more beneficial (in both time and money resources) than spending all your time chasing new clients. My yellow lab definitely knows who to go for to get a walk, get fed, or get a belly rub.

4) Go ahead and show your teeth! Your business is the product of your hard work, sacrifice, and creativity – letting another borrow (aka: steal) your ideas or take advantage of your business should not be tolerated. As an example, according to the USPTO (uspto.gov), if you don’t defend a registered trademark you may lose it. Your intellectual property is valuable!

5) If abused – forgive, but don’t forget. Occasionally, we run into someone (personally or professionally) who shouldn’t be in our lives. Use such experiences to be stronger and prevent reoccurrences – but don’t hold onto the anger. Negativity only wears you down physically and mentally, and serves no purpose (after all – your foe doesn’t care if you’re mad!!).

6) Family is priority. If you sacrifice too much to get ahead, with whom will you share the glory? Balance your life and your life will be amazing!

What IS a concierge, anyway?

kon’ syerzh: Noun. 1) A caretaker of an apartment complex or small hotel, typically living on premises. 2) A hotel employee whose job is to assist guests by making theater and restaurant reservations, etc.

Boy, is that out of date!

Though concierge have been around for centuries (early concierge tended to castle-visiting nobles in the medieval era), the duties (and location) of a concierge have changed drastically. Today’s professional concierge is expected to “achieve the impossible”, dealing with any request (no matter how strange), relying on an extensive list of contacts with local merchants and service providers.

You can find a concierge in a hotel, residential complex, retail store or corporate lobby. You can even find them in their pyjamas at the computer (ahem – no pictures allowed!). A concierge is put in place (even if starting your own business) to provide the peak of service to the customer base. If someone uses the centuries-old title, they should always have the customer’s best interest at heart, without worrying about WIIFM (what’s in it for me?). Every (legal) request and its requestor is given the utmost respect and time deserved.

When is someone NOT a concierge? When they keep trying to steer you to buy their employer’s products, or stay at their employer’s hotel/apartment complex. When you, as a customer, don’t feel like you’re being listened to, or respected, or even liked. Lately, the job title is thrown about without thought.

We search, negotiate, plead and sometimes connive to get our customers what they want (though we stick to our good ethics and morals). We rarely give up. We want to make our customers happy – because when they’re happy, we’re ecstatic. We long to be appreciated (for you therapists out there, we know it may be an illness!), and love to see a smile – knowing we helped create it.

Organizing Pitfalls to Avoid

Helene Segura of Living Order San Antonio is a wonderful resource of best practices when organizing the chaos and clutter in your life. Here is a twist on that, which I found most appealing: what to avoid when trying to get all those ducks in a row:

  1. Not having a plan
  2. Not being realistic
  3. Being afraid to try something new
  4. Having an “all or nothing” mentality
  5. Not celebrating progress
  6. Holding onto the past
  7. Seeking perfection
  8. Making excuses instead of time
  9. Going it alone
  10. Not making decisions

For more details and insights from Helene, please visit her website at www.LivingOrder.com. We at The Virtual Concierge are at-the-ready with our team of partner vendors and referrals. Please feel free to contact us when we may help!

Hang in There

In this economic downturn, many in the concierge and errand industry are nervous. Rightly so, of course, but there are a few ways to help ride out the low tide: manage your savings as well as your spending, boost your marketing in less-expensive, more bang-for-your buck methods, and remain hopeful that things will improve. Because they will.

People will need errand runners again, because it does “cost” less than trying to manage it all.

Businesses will need concierge services again, because it’s one of the best ways for a company to stay competitive when recruiting the best talent.

And we’ll be there, because we did what was necessary to remain viable. We take care of our customers, and we take care of ourselves.

Reach Out!

People volunteer for a wide variety of reasons, especially wanting to help others. But it’s also OK to want some benefit for yourself. You may wish to learn something new, build your resume, make new friends, or be part of a team. Instead of considering volunteering as something you just do for people who are not as fortunate as yourself, begin to think of it as an exchange.

Consider that most people find themselves in need at some point in their lives. So today, you may be the person with the ability to help, but tomorrow you may be the recipient of someone else’s volunteer effort.

In these tough times, pay it forward.

Whether it be time, friendship, experience, elbow grease or good old cash, you have something to offer to improve the world around you.

No Junk Mail, Please!

Simplify Your Life! Take steps to have your name removed from mailing lists.

Tell companies with whom you do business to NOT give out your name and address.

When you order from a catalog or subscribe to a magazine, include a note stating, “Do not rent, trade, sell or give away my name, address or phone number.”

To reduce junk mail you are already receiving, send a postcard stating “Please remove my name from Direct Mail Marketing Lists” to:

Direct Mail Marketing Association
P.O. Box 9008
Farmingdale, NY 11735-9008

Be sure to list any variations in the spelling of your name, address, and the names of other household members.

I Loathe the Word Consistency

Makes me think of pudding! But, in the land of restaurants and hospitality and any business that has a customer (wait, that’s all of us!), consistency is key.

We can be consistently good or consistently bad — either way, we’ll have our share of customers. It’s the businesses that seem to get it right half of the time that flail and fail quickly. The customer never knows what to expect when you’re about to shell out your hard-earned cash.

Every business can have its moments — a chef leaves and the transition is rocky, a (usually outstanding) employee brings their bad day into work with their uniform. It can be the kiss of death these days.

How to survive such trouble? Own it. Apologize to a customer. Buy a dinner. Take the employee off the floor to allow them to take a breath (but, for goodness sake, do it privately!). Accept that mistakes happen, make it right, and move on. Customers that know you are putting forth the effort to get them to come back, are going to come back! It seems like a no-brainer, but too many places just don’t get it.