Are you interested in starting an errand business for seniors? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting an errand business with NO money and no experience.
Okay, so we have provided you an in-depth sample errand service business plan template. We also took it further by analyzing and drafting a sample errand service marketing plan backed up by actionable guerrilla marketing ideas for errand businesses. In this article, we will be considering all the requirements for starting an errand business. So put on your entrepreneurial hat and let’s proceed.
Table of Content
- Why Start an Errand Business for Seniors?
- 1. Understand the Industry
- 2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- 3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
- 4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
- 5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
- 6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
- 7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
- 8. Choose a Catchy Business Name
- 9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
- 10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
- 11. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
- 12. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
- 13. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
- 14. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
- 15. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
- 16. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
Why Start an Errand Business for Seniors?
By mere looking around our neighbourhood, we can all agree that a lot of seniors are home bound or less mobile than they used to be and would be more than willing to pay someone else to ease their daily burden of errands. This is where a senior errand service comes in.
People in this business run errands for senior citizens and get paid good money for it. It is an amazing business that will give you the satisfaction and thrill of helping people out. Just as the number of senior citizens grows, the amount of work for errand service businesses will grow too.
Experts believe that this is a perfect business for an individual with a compassionate and patient heart that wants to make a difference in the lives of others, while earning a good income. It’s a great way to help out seniors, while still leaving them feeling independent.
We were also able to note that this business has no expensive start-up cost. Also have it in mind that most of the errands you’ll be doing are probably things you do already. Running to the Grocery Store, stopping at the post office, going to the bank, picking up dry cleaning etc, but this time you’ll get paid to do it.
Also when planning to start this business, we suggest you find out if any other errand runners are offering a specialized errand service just for seniors. Call them or check out their website to find out how much they charge. We believe that this can help you understand what hourly rate to charge. If you charge too much, you will have trouble finding new clients. If you charge too little, you are cheating yourself of income.
We also advice that you obtain the needed business licenses from your city or state and check with your insurance agent to make sure you have the proper insurance coverage for your new business. We also suggest you create and use a website for your business.
A WordPress site is one of the easiest to set up and modify, and they only cost a few dollars a month for web hosting. Indeed starting and running a senior errand service is a great way to make a nice profit (errand runners make on average $25 an hour), while helping ease the stress on seniors’ lives. It’s the perfect way to be your own boss and work as much or as little as you’d like.
There are some things you should know before you start your business; read on to understand the basic things and ways to start this business.
Starting an Errand Business for Seniors – A Complete Guide
1. Understand the Industry
The general concierge industry, which the senior errand services is a part of, provides on-demand services for business executives, clients, seniors, employees and individuals. We believe that industry businesses offer a large variety of services, including running errands, conducting grocery and personal shopping, making travel and restaurant reservations, and home management.
Services may be provided in-person or remotely via telecommunications. You need to understand that these businesses function as brokers to match client requests with available services. This lucrative industry is a service-based industry. While products may include monthly or yearly subscriptions, mobile apps and online memberships, industry businesses survive on the scope of services they offer.
We believe that the services offered by industry businesses vary widely depending on the size of the firm, their location and price. The entertainment and dining arrangements segment includes the procurement of tickets, booking of dining reservations, research on entertainment venues and procurement of live entertainment, such as a magician for a child’s birthday or live band for a wedding.
This industry use to be the domain of celebrities and affluent professionals, but the Business Concierge Services industry has started targeting private households and corporate employees to fulfill a variety of their household management tasks. Experts believe that this expansion in clientele has aided the industry to grow, as revenue increased in the past five years.
According to reports, an increase in disposable income and higher corporate profit margin in the past five years to 2016 helped grow industry demand, as businesses and consumers had the extra discretionary income to spend on concierge services. Industry revenue also improved thanks to a decade-long decline in the amount of leisure time for the average American.
Experts believe that as the economy recovers, time-poor professionals will seek out industry services and the demand from corporate clients will rapidly rebound due to rising corporate profit. We also believe that the rate of employment will reduce the number of hours consumers spend on household management.
2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
We believe that an errand service can be started with nothing more than a cell phone and reliable transportation. You can get clients by networking and by creating a simple marketing brochure explaining the services you provide along with your contact information. The brochures can be pinned to community bulletin boards, hand-delivered to homes and businesses and distributed with the local newspaper.
We also believe that a few promotional items such as pens and memo pads emblazoned with your company logo, name and telephone number given out to potential customers will go a long way as a daily reminder of your fast, reliable and affordable errand services. This is the kind of business where growth is fueled by referrals, so customer service and satisfaction are the most important goals.
Indeed judging from the name of this business, we don’t need to stress our brains to understand those in need of this lucrative business. With 40 million Americans over age 65 and 6 million over 85, the senior service business has become a cottage industry, requiring everyone from home health care workers to gardeners to fall prevention specialists.
We believe that individuals within this age tend to find it difficult to run routine errands, so by providing a service that gives them the opportunity to live an independent life, you can be rest assured that you are serving both man and your pocket.
3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
The niche you will be choosing in this business should be based on your skills and capabilities; you will need to figure out what services you will render. Note that a lot of senior errand runners focus on basic errands such as grocery shopping, pet walking, dry-cleaning, picking up prescriptions, and so on. But few senior errand runners render transportation services, such as driving clients to and from doctor’s appointments, shopping, and so on.
One very successful ‘extra’ service you can provide your customers is a home check service. This is where you would do a quick visit to the home of a client who has gone out of town. Your check can be as simple as checking the doors and windows to providing snow removal, mail pick up, indoor chores ranging from watering plants and monitoring the heat to many other additional services. You could charge as little as $20 per drop-in and increase that based on additional chores per drop-in visit.
The Level of Competition in the Industry
When individuals become older, they are less capable of managing daily tasks such as grocery shopping, picking up prescription medicine, and more. This is why senior citizens most times hire errand runners to do the tasks they no longer can, or want to do.
Errand businesses typically charge between $18 and $35 an hour, with a national average of about $25 an hour. Have it in mind that as an errand runner you stand to make a nice profit. With 40 million Americans over age 65 and 6 million over 85, the senior service business has become a cottage industry, needing professionals from all walks of life.
Starting and running a senior errand business is a lot easier that starting most other businesses because it’s a service based business that doesn’t need a store or inventory. The need in our present world is growing fast for senior errand services because of the large number of aging Americans who can no longer do some basic things or errands.
4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
- Caring senior services
- My stewards
- Jeeves Concierge
- Dunn Virtual Assistance
Errand businesses run errands for people who are unable to, typically seniors. It is a great way to help others and make a good profit doing it. It is a common sense job, but to succeed you need to take advantage of what your local newspaper has to offer.
We suggest you send a press release telling them of your exciting new errand service. You might get an article written about your business, which means great press about you without any cost. Have it in mind that a lot of senior citizens read the newspaper everyday, so they might stumble onto your article and give you a call. As a focused entrepreneur, you should also consider doing “home checks” for your existing customers.
When a customer goes out of town for a long period of time, you might think there will be no more business for you from them until they get back, but this isn’t true. You can request to make or perform home checks for a small fee. While they’re out of town you can stop by their house and check to make sure the house is in good condition, give it a lived-in look, check light bulbs, flush toilets, and more. It’s quite easy and can be done weekly for a flat fee, such as $20.
There are many ways for you to increase the efficiency of your business. If you have several customers in the same area that want similar things, consider combining them into one day. For example, maybe Mondays and Fridays are grocery days, while Wednesday is your post office and pharmacy day. This will greatly speed things up and spare you from running back and forth all over town.
Remember that when going to the grocery store (or other stores) for multiple customers at the same time, be sure to pay for their orders separately and keep their items separate as well. Each customer will want their own receipt, and keeping the orders separate before you deliver them will ease any potential confusion.
We were also able to find out that big errand runners put a notice on their information sheet that appointments cancelled without 24-hour notice will be charged a fee. Last-minute cancellations are often too late for you to find a job to fill that time, so a cancellation fee is appropriate.
5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
Just like we stated above, starting this business can be relatively easy, with just a car and a phone you’re good to go. But when you start out, you will need business cards and flyers or brochures to pass out to potential customers and health care providers who refer customers to you. This is why you need to decide; do I start from the scratch just like 79% of businesses in this industry or do I leverage a proven plan and take the market by storm?
You need to understand that the two options above have advantages and disadvantages. Have it in mind that starting from the scratch or buying a franchise doesn’t decide success, but can help you mould a clean path. Indeed this business is a goal oriented business and a competitive business where big fishes are swimming deeper and the little ones are struggling to grow bigger.
Innovation, commitment and brand popularity are important incentives that can guarantee success in this industry and only buying into a franchise can provide that easily. We believe that starting and building from the scratch gives you proper control over the growth and size of your business but it will take more time, struggling and commitments that will be able to stand the sinking sands and attract the service users.
The industry is fast growing and has gone beyond you plying the cities in search of business, buying a franchise gives you leverage over start up downfalls and challenges.
6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
Experts believe that this industry will keep enjoying growth trends largely because of the growing needs of seniors, and legal decisions that protect the rights of disabled individuals to have equal access to social activities. This industry is still very open to competition and you can pick up a market share if you plan accordingly. Note that hard work and persistence can see you through. Possible threats to this business may include;
- Market research and feasibility
- Penetrating the market
- Employing experienced workers
- Gaining patience in handling your clients etc.
7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
- Best Legal Entity to use for this type of business
As a prospective entrepreneur or entrant in this business, you need to understand that choosing an adequate legal entity for your business is one of the most important steps that will set your business apart from its peers as it will clearly explain the foundation of your business.
Note that it is your duty to protect your business which is why you will have to decide early if you are going to run your errand service for senior citizens service as a sole proprietorship or as an LLC. Indeed this business can be started from home and the scale of your business will go a long way to dictate the legal entity you will be choosing for your business.
Have it in mind that every legal entity has advantages and disadvantages. Coupled with different tax implications, each will have a different bearing on how you will be able to expand your business with the addition of more employees or vehicles.
Choosing to start your errand service for senior citizens business as a Corporation, Limited Liability Company and limited liability partnership can indeed give you and any investors or partners personal liability protection. You can start forming these business entities via your state’s secretary of state office.
We advise that you consult an attorney or accountant to figure out what makes the most sense for you. But in all, the LLC is the best entity for a large scale Errand service for senior citizens business. The benefit of the LLC simply includes;
- Easy to setup
- Cheap to start
8. Choose a Catchy Business Name
When starting a business, you should know that the identity you create with your Business Name is very important. It will be how customers will identify you and you will want it to portray an excellent, positive image. With this in mind, your business name should be easy to remember, say something about the kind of business it is and sound professional and caring.
- Management Pro
- Easy run
- Closest pal
- Every day help
- Vintage Press
- Next door help
- Fast ‘N’ ready
9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
To avoid problems and liabilities in this business you must have insurance. It can protect you in the case of a lawsuit or claim. We suggest you check with your state about auto insurance. A lot of them require it if you are using your car for commercial purposes.
There are other insurances you might need such as if you’ll be transporting seniors, driving one of your customer’s cars, or for house and pet sitting. It’s best to check with your insurance company to learn what is required. Here are some of the insurances you should consider…
- Physical damage protection
- Liability insurance
- Medical payments
- Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist
- Commercial auto insurance
- Comprehensive coverage
10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
Ideas and innovation has now made it a necessity to protect all valuables in your business. Intellectual property protection in the Errand service for senior citizens industry is about protecting the time, money and effort you put into your business.
Remember that the protection will aid you grasp and protect what’s yours, mould your handwork and ingenuity into lucrative returns, set you up for growth or business expansion, keep competitors away, make sure you’re not infringing on anyone’s right, prevent employees from aiding your competitors, attract investors and also promote your business to investors or potential buyers.
Many individuals tend to argue how intellectual property protection can be necessary in the Errand service for senior citizens, yet they forget that it’s deadly to let your competitors take from you without due permission. Intellectual properties in the Errand service for senior citizens industry may include;
- Registered and Unregistered trademarks – Your brands name and logo
- Patents – typically a new way, process or material invented as a business innovation
- Secrecy agreements – contracts that keep valuable information safe and client confidentiality
11. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
No matter what you think, every business has due processes, proper documents and permits needed in other to run its day to day activities. You need adequate documents to run an errand business for seniors alone. It is very important to understand and follow all laws to avoid penalties. Documents needed for an errand business differs from state to state, but here are few well known legal documents needed to avoid penalties and fines.
- Vehicle permits
- Vehicle for service permit
- Proof of Insurance
- Business permit
- Commercial driver’s license
12. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
Irrespective of your ideas and goals, lack of financing is a very fast way to kill your ideas prematurely. Finance in the Errand service for senior citizens business is a big ingredient especially if you are looking to start a large scale Errand service business. Yes you can start this business with a phone and a car.
What differentiates a small business and a large scale business is marketing abilities and target markets. Nowadays, getting funds for a business is not an easy task because no one would want to pledge his/her money in a business that can’t guarantee returns and profits. Examples of ways to get funding may include;
- Funds from Personal savings
- Getting loans from families and friends
- Taking small business loans
- Getting microloans
- Attract an angel investor
13. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
It is your duty as a savvy entrepreneur to choose a suitable location for your business. For you to do this comfortably, you have to make a careful assessment of costs. We believe that the ideal location should be one where costs are minimized. You should be able to look at the advantages which each area has to offer as well as any government help which might be available.
Note that your location should have easy access to all major routes in your area and enough parking space to safely store all your vehicles. A suitable location for your errand service for senior citizens business should be easy to locate and convenient for both your clients and employees. Centrally located sites are best if you will be serving your entire city.
14. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
One unique thing about starting up an errand service is that you really don’t need special skills or training to do it. We believe there are just a few things you will need to have and that include common sense, honesty, patience and organization.
Since your clients will be mostly the elderly, you’ll need to be very patient with them and if you end up running a number of different errands for a few different clients, you’ll need some way to keep the jobs in order so you don’t accidentally forget or deliver the wrong service to another client.
You don’t need a lot of supplies to be a successful errand runner. But we suggest you consider these few. First and foremost, you must have a reliable car to drive you to and from your jobs and a cell phone to stay in touch with your customers.
After that, we suggest you get some business cards to pass out and magnetic signs for your car. Note that this will create awareness for your business and will remind people to call you if they need an errand to be run. It’s also a good idea to have a day planner or other organized way to keep track of your schedule and all of your customers. It can be a printed calendar or something on your computer or cell phone.
The Service Delivery Process of the Business
A lot of errand runners in the industry charge by the hour, not the task. Note that if the task involves a lot of driving, you might want to charge for mileage. We also suggest you charge differently if you’re being asked to work outside your normal business hours or on a holiday. You should consider offering package deals as a way to get customers. If they’re only using your services for grocery shopping, pick a special rate for that. Experiment and find out what works best for you.
Also note that the best way to market your business will be strategies that cost you nothing and you may get the best single shot of exposure through a local newspaper. There are many ways you can connect with them and forge a mutually beneficial relationship. Regardless of what arrangement you make, your local newspaper can be a huge ally when you are trying to build your business.
15. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
- marketing strategies for the business
You need to learn that trust is the factor that moves or works on this business. If you succeed in gaining the trust of your first customers, they will tell their friends, and you will soon have enough customers to handle. We believe that a good way to start marketing is by checking on homes where there are seniors and tell them about your services.
We suggest you pass out business cards to everyone you meet, and leave flyers and brochures at places like senior centres and other places often visited by seniors. Other strategies may include;
- Maintain a separate business line that plays a professional message for callers.
- Design a flier, brochure and business cards and print a large quantity of all.
- Take the fliers and brochures directly to senior housing complexes, businesses, medical offices and lawyers’ offices, especially sole practitioners or sole proprietors
- Get shirts, hats and jackets with your company name and logo and wear the clothing when you are running errands.
- Apply your company name and logo to your business equipment, such as clip boards, messenger bags and envelopes.
- Attach signs or banners to your car, bicycle or other vehicles used to perform your services.
- Attach a magnetic sign to the cars of family and friends to cover more ground with your advertising message.
- Establish an Internet presence with your own website and a Facebook page. Find a free or inexpensive hosting service for a simple website people can find when searching for your services.
16. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
You need to know that brand awareness is all about winning customers and letting them know who you are and what you offer. This is why you need to make sure you shout about your brand and get your name in front of as many eyeballs as possible.
It takes planning and innovation to be able to push your errand business to a point where people can easily identify it and patronize you. Ideas for boosting your brand awareness and creating a corporate identity may include;
- Using the web
- Creating a social media presence
- Advertising using traditional methods
- You can also sponsor public events
- Join a professional association such as the International Concierge and Errand Association or International Concierge and Lifestyle Management Association.