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  • March 31, 2020 2:46 PM | Katharine Giovanni (Administrator)


    Stay the Course…

    I am writing this newsletter on March 19, 2020. Today the Governor of CA just issued a mandatory ‘stay at home’ directive.

    By the time you read this, everything may (and likely will) change; however today I want to encourage you to find the positivity in this unique and difficult situation.

    It is going to be a challenge, but you can do this!

    Do you know where the phrase ‘stay the course’ originated? Most agree it was either a sailing metaphor about holding your navigation course steady or a horse racing term about horses staying in their lanes.

    However, the most accepted definition of “Stay the Course”, is to: Persist in an action or policy; remain with a plan despite criticism or setbacks.”

    You, my dear readers, are in the middle of a major setback. The magnitude of this coronavirus pandemic is unprecedented in our lifetime. There have been other pandemics in my 62 years but I do not ever recall the fear mongering or mass hysteria this pandemic has caused.

    It is certainly scary. Even I have to fight the sense of panic that sometimes rises in the back of my throat. But my business has survived challenges before and it will this time too.

    I started my lifestyle company Executive Errands® in 2006. Poor timing, I know. 

    By 2008 the housing market collapsed, the stock market was affected and people were bemoaning the serious lack of business everywhere we went. I could have thrown in the towel right off the bat and gone back to my secure six-figure job but I did not.

    And you know what? My business grew 30% per year for the 5 years between 2006 and 2011. THIRTY PERCENT PER YEAR! That’s nearly unheard of in the best of times, but these were recession years. How did we do it?

    First, I turned off the news and social media. Entirely. I refused to allow the negativity into my consciousness. If you don’t hear it, you can’t be afraid of it, right?

    That’s a little more difficult to do in the current scenario but instead of listening to talking heads drone on and on in fear-based speculation or seeing scary social media posts; I have apps that I can scroll through to find out the most important things I need to know.

    My current favorite is called ‘News Break’ and I like it because it is specific local news. I can scroll through it and only stop on a headline that might pertain to me or my company. I can skip the rest.

    Second, I only spoke positively about my company. When I would go to Chamber mixers for example, everyone would be lamenting about how tough business was but when they asked me, I would say ‘it is FANTASTIC’.

    I was so enthusiastic about it; even I believed it, ha! And you know what; I believe with all my heart, I ‘spoke’ our business into success during those years.

    Third, I focused on our goals and the future of the company. I visualized my bank account growing and our phone ringing. I continued investing in my company for marketing collateral, software development and education. I didn’t give up.

    I did all that because I believed we would be successful. I could ‘see’ it in my mind and I ‘knew’ it in my soul.

    And finally, I only allowed myself to have one, single fear. And that was the fear of quitting too soon. I was terrified that I might quit only to find if I had continued one more day, success would be ours.

    That ‘one more day’ has turned into nearly 15 years and we’re still going strong.

    And you can be too.

    You’ll need that level of commitment to weather this viral storm. Right now it is super challenging so we all must do our part to help where we can.

    We are fortunate in that my company primarily takes care of homes when they are empty so we are an ‘essential’ service and don’t interact with very many people in person.

    But no matter your business model, you too can get through this. Follow our tips above and here are answers to the three questions we’ve been receiving all week:

    Q--Should I discount my services to help more people?

    A—NO, it would be detrimental to your business because once we get on the other side of this virus, people will be asking why you can do it so much cheaper now but not later.

    If you really want to do something to help your community, offer a reduced rate for a short period of time only or even offer to run errands for free – for a very brief amount of time. Say through April 15 th or 30th.

    Not only will you be able to help others but you will be building your brand and that reduced rate or free services will be the cost of doing business just like any other marketing or advertising cost. Be sure to keep track of the lost revenue and let your accountant know so they can help you qualify for an extra business deduction.

    Q—Am I going to look bad promoting my business when there is so much suffering?

    A –NO, it is your company’s job to make life easier for people. If they can’t get out to shop or pick up prescriptions, that’s when others need you most. Don’t feel bad about it but please, do promote in a positive and uplifting way – try not to further add to the fear.

    Q—What if I don’t want to go out at all? Will it hurt my business?

    A—Then please, do not go out. As far as whether it will hurt your business or not; only time will tell but no one should blame you given the circumstances. Please do what you feel is best for yourself and your family. In the end, that’s what matters most!

    When we were in the middle of the housing crisis and recession, all the companies who stayed the course came out on the other side bigger, better and well positioned to grow quicker than other similar companies.

    You can do this! It may not be easy and it may be scary but I have faith in you and our industry.

    Stay positive, speak positively, visualize success and do what is best for you and your family. And please know that Concierge Business Solutions® is here for you for emotional support, business advice or as a shoulder when you need it.

    Call me today or email at info@conciergebusinesssolutions.com and together we’ll get through this.

    Concierge Business Solutions® assists with Problem Resolution, Action Plans, Goal Setting, Marketing Plans and software solutions.

    When you sign up for our software data collection system, we’ll give you documents, forms, policies and procedures and all the training you’ll need to be as efficient as possible.

    Why wait? Contact Us today!


  • March 23, 2020 2:22 PM | Katharine Giovanni (Administrator)

    I know the world is really hard right now, so I asked a few friends to give you a quick message. May this video bring everyone who watches it peace.

    You GOT this!


  • March 16, 2020 1:51 PM | Katharine Giovanni (Administrator)


    Having owned my own business since 1995, I thought I would offer a few tips. Sadly, there isn’t one set-it-and-forget-it tool that generates free and high-quality website traffic to your website. Rather, there exists a mix of channels that work together to drive visitors. Some require effort, some require time, and some require money. Below are a few tips to get you started.

    SEO

    Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the building blocks for a successful website. Online searches are made by search engines. Search engines use meta tags to bring up the appropriate information for people to read. This is why you need to make sure that you have meta tags, keywords, and descriptions that are written correctly so people will find your website and click on your link. In most programs, including WordPress, you can customize your SEO page by page.

    Personally, I use Yoast SEO in wordpress. If you need help setting it up, here is a very helpful article to assist you: https://makeawebsitehub.com/how-to-set-up-yoast-seo/. However, if you don't want to use Yoast, here are few more articles that I found helpful.

    https://www.wpbeginner.com/wordpress-seo/
    https://www.dreamhost.com/blog/boost-seo-wordpress-website/

    Get active on social media!

    It’s not enough to just share content through social channels— you need to actively participate in the community too. You don’t have to spend hours and hours on Facebook and LinkedIn. Just a few minutes a day. Make a few comments, click “like” on a few things. Let people know you are there! I know many people who tell me they just post their stuff and leave as fast as they can. I can tell because I notice things like that. I notice that they never “like” anything, and if I’m noticing, then others are too.

    This includes wishing people a happy birthday. I used to just generically say happy birthday to people whenever it popped up on Facebook. Then a speaker friend of mine wished me a happy birthday by writing a few lines of well wishes and including a link to his favorite YouTube birthday song. Out of the 100 or so well wishes I received that year, guess which one I remember the most? Plus, I remember his NAME and went to his website to take a look! BAM! Exactly what he was hoping I would do.

    My grandfather had his own system for this back in the day. He would read the New York Times obituaries, society columns, and business pages and send cards to people. Condolence cards, happy you’re getting married cards, and congratulations on your promotion cards. When he died at the age of ninety-five, and I’m not kidding here, there were more than five hundred people at his funeral. He knew everyone! Nicest man you would ever meet. My goal has always been to be the kindest person in the room, just like my grandpa. As Maya Angelou once said, people might not remember what you said, but they will never ever forget how you made them feel.

    Please click here to read the rest of the article: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20-social-media-marketing-tips-katharine-giovanni/?published=t

    (Search engines penalize you if your article is posted in more than one location. They consider it "duplicate content")

  • March 04, 2020 2:11 PM | Katharine Giovanni (Administrator)


    ICLMNet members have been calling me asking for tips on how to get clients. Everyone is scared of the coronavirus and our industry, like others, is taking a hit.

    So how do you get more revenue flowing into your house?

    Now is the perfect time to offer an errand running/delivery service. People who are quarantined at home, or just not wanting to go out, will still need supplies.  You might contact hospitals and doctors and offer your services to them. You can also contact daycare centers and schools who might have to close. Let them know that you are there to help!!!

    I suggest you reach out to Amazon, Whole Foods… anyone who is making deliveries right now. They are slammed and need tons of help.

    Here is an article about how to protect yourself from the coronavirus. Possibly the best one I’ve read yet…

    https://www.boomercafe.com/2020/03/03/for-baby-boomers-almost-more-than-anyone-tips-for-coronavirus/?fbclid=IwAR3NWc-MuFVqA1hQk_RAJf12tI22i_fdRHfMahBg5tax7RK1kgcuNMOHMGk

    You can also start a nice side hustle. Here are some fantastic articles that talk about this…

    Until next time!
    Katharine


  • February 28, 2020 1:05 PM | Katharine Giovanni (Administrator)


    Need some social media marketing tips?  Here are my top three favorites...

    1.  Social media is SOCIAL!

    Do you just go to social media and post your stuff and then click off? Just posting "your" stuff might get you a few clients, but engaging with your followers will help you more. People enjoy working with their friends, so allowing them to get to know you will get you farther faster. Also, if all you post is about you and what you sell, then people will get bored fast and they will either ignore you or unfollow you.

    My top tip? You have to be present! Read people's posts, make a comment or two, share their articles, and "like" their stuff occasionally. Wish them a happy birthday!

    I spend at least 15 -20 minutes in the morning and another 15-20 in the afternoon on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Of course I put up my own content, but I also share other people's posts, make comments and generally try and be present.

    Social media is a two-way street ... you have to give in order to get.

    2.  Take advantage of social media automation tools. 

    How do I manage to post articles, graphics and tips at all hours of the day? I use www.Buffer.com and schedule my posts. Once or twice a week, I'll sit down and find articles and create graphics. I'll then schedule them to go out at different times during the day. 

    Here are some nice articles about social media automation:

    3.  Make sure your profiles are updated and have a nice header. 

    You also should give your potential customers something to read when they visit your profile on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and/or Instagram. At the very least you should have a short biography, link to your website and a nice header. Often, I'll read someone's post and click on their profile to see who they are. If I see no header, bad profile picture, links that don't work, and little information it leaves me feeling like they have no idea what they are doing. Will I hire them? No. See my point? 

    To design my headers, I use www.Canva.com. You can also use www.picmonkey.com. VERY easy to use and they create great graphics.  

    Until next time!

    Katharine

  • January 08, 2020 3:30 PM | Katharine Giovanni (Administrator)


    Do you have your contact information on the emails that you send to people?

    No?

    You could be losing clients if you don't.

    I got an email just yesterday from someone who wanted to do business with me again. I knew this person so it was a legitimate email. What threw me wasn't what he said in the message. It was the fact that he didn't have any contact information at the end. No telephone, no website ... nothing! Just his name.

    If I'm going to take your email seriously, I have three house rules that I live by.

    First, if you don't have formal contact information at the end of your email, I'm going to assume you are spam and will delete you. At the very least, you should have your name, company, website and telephone number. I also have links to my social media pages in mine. I have set it up to automatically go on each and every email that I send out. To design my signature, I use www.Wisestamp.com 

    Second, I check people out and will visit their website to see who they are. If you don't give me your website address, then it's a safe bet that I'm not going to use your company.

    Third, if you don't address me by my real name I'm going to delete you. You get extra points for spelling it correctly. Please don't write to me as "Dear Giowell Group" because that tells me that you didn't take the time to look me up on my website and you have no idea what we do. I will usually just hit the delete key.

    I tell everyone to write your emails like you would a formal old-fashioned letter. With an opening and closing. Although I frequently use "with joy and peace" I have also used "sincerely", "kind regards" and "warm regards" depending on who I am writing. I always add a "thank you" as well. Your contact information should be at the bottom. Most people are on a tight schedule with tons to do and don't have the time to go and search out your website. So give them a tiny bit of information in your email! 

    Have a great week!

    Katharine

  • December 31, 2019 12:54 PM | Katharine Giovanni (Administrator)


    Most people I know had a rough 2019.

    Not all mind you, but most.

    The ones who didn’t and are living their best life?  Good for them, you say out loud while you silently ask yourself the age-old question of why not me? What am I doing wrong?

    Actually, you’re not doing anything wrong believe it or not. You’re just on a different path. A path that will lead you out of that damn dark forest if you allow it.

    Yes I said that right.

    IF YOU ALLOW IT.

    Sorry to shout.

    How many of you think you don’t deserve it?

    How many of you think you’re too old, too young, too this, too that?

    It’s never too late.

    It might not play out the way you envisioned it years ago. You weren’t ready then anyways. You are ready now. Plus, it might play out better!

    What topic are we talking about?

    Please click here to read the rest of the article. (Re-posting an article in more than one place hurts your SEO)

  • November 21, 2019 10:30 AM | Katharine Giovanni (Administrator)

    By Katharine Giovanni

    How do concierge get their clients into the best restaurants? Magic!

    Actually, we have a bunch of techniques that we use to get our clients a table. Below are a few. 

    1. Use an App such as…

    a. www.opentable.com

    b. http://www.rezhound.com

    c. https://www.eater.com

    d. https://www.exploretock.com

    e. @LastMinuteEatin - If you are in New York City, you can go to their Twitter Feed for same-night reservations. You might check other cities to see if there are similar services.

    3. Eat at the bar. Ron and I have done that many times and have had excellent meals with no waiting for a table.

    4. Be flexible with your dates and eat mid-week.

    5. Eat at less popular times such as late afternoon or late evening.

    6. Check their Facebook and Twitter pages that morning to see if they post anything about last-minute reservations.

    7. Just show up and give it a shot. Many accept walk-ins, but you’ll have to wait. Make sure you are dressed properly so you look like you belong there.

    8. Do something really old fashioned. Call them! If OpenTable says they have nothing, call the restaurant directly. They always keep a few tables for people who call them directly. People who book online are often no-shows and restaurants want to fill those seats. Call in the morning, and then again later in the day.

    9. Want a weekend reservation? Call them on a Thursday and ask if they have any cancellations. Why Thursday? That’s when most will call and confirm weekend reservations. Ask when you should call again if they don’t have anything!

    10. Call and ask to be placed on their waiting list

    11. Check charity and auction sites as many people donate restaurant reservations.

    Please click here to read the rest of the tips.

    (Search engines only allow you to post an article to one blog.)

  • September 05, 2019 1:25 PM | Katharine Giovanni (Administrator)


    By ICLMNet Member Leslie Spoor

    For those of us who have been in business for a few years, you likely know that Lifestyle Management is basically an unregulated service.

    There are no laws specific to our industry or any conditions we have to meet other than those general small business requirements for all companies.

    Likewise, as there are a myriad of service offerings under the Lifestyle Management umbrella, it has been difficult to pin us down. Not for insurance. Not for Worker's Comp classifications. Not for labor standards (assuming your employees work part-time).

    This industry has been free-wheeling it since it first became an industry around 2000-ish which has been both a blessing and a curse. It's a blessing because we have few, if any laws with which we must comply. And it's a curse because it makes getting insurance and other business prerequisites nearly impossible.

    Of particular interest are those of us who offer absentee home checks as part of our services. These checks may be called home watch or vacation rental support assistance or a variety of other nomenclature.

    When we do home checks, typically we are doing no more than a real estate agent in that we are accessing the home, doing a visual inspection, reporting anomalies and coordinating preventative maintenance or repair services.

    Confusion comes in when someone uses the word 'property management'.

    On the one hand, yes, we all manage properties. On the other, we are not promoting rentals (at least I hope YOU'RE not!). Therefore, in our lifestyle management vernacular, a home check is NOT property management.

    This is a slippery slope as the definition of property management can be interpreted in so many ways. True property management is defined as:

    "A property manager or estate manager is a person or firm charged with operating a real estate property for a fee, when the owner is unable to personally attend to such details, or is not interested in doing so."

    This definition means taking rental payments, screening guests, posting ads for rentals, understanding local laws related to rentals, taking guest payments, etc.

    Recently the Home Watch Association (a directory group) emailed out an alert and I believe this alert is serious enough that you should know about it and therefore can take the appropriate action to protect your business.

    Apparently (and I'm paraphrasing/summarizing), the Nevada Real Estate Division challenged the 'home check' companies taking their complaint all the way to the Nevada Attorney General.

    The Real Estate Division demanded that all 'home check' companies operate under a real estate broker because they took the word 'home check' to mean 'property management' in its true sense (managing rentals).

    Because of the realtor demands, all business owners who owned home check companies received a 'cease and desist' notice, effectively stopping their businesses cold.

    The entire story is long and ran from 2016 to 2019, but I wanted to give you the synopsis and what you can do to protect yourself.

    According to the Home Watch Association, the official acceptable definition of a home watch service is: "A visual inspection of a home or property, looking for obvious issues."

    Apparently this definition protected the Home Watch industry in Nevada and the Attorney General opted not to pursue the Real Estate Division's complaint.

    Let me be clear about this: My own Lifestyle Management Company does take care of rentals but WE DO NOT advertise the rental, scrutinize guests, take deposits, manage payments or do anything related to an actual property management company.

    What we offer is rental support services: we greet guests, check for damages post guest, schedule housekeeping and handyman services, etc. We are the company on the ground to support the rental but we do not do rentals themselves.

    And of course, as a standard service, we offer home checks because a huge percentage of our clients are snowbirds or have a vacation home here.

    We agree with the Home Watch Association that if you offer absentee home services or rental SUPPORT services, then you should add the definition of the home watch (as indicated above) to your website and you should avoid using the words Property Management on your website and in your marketing materials (unless you actually do offer rental services).

    By the time you read this, my own website will have been updated to reflect this statement as a precautionary action. Doing business in CA is tough on a good day and impossible a great deal of the time. When/if someone tries to regulate our industry, this will likely be the first place it happens (she says with a wistful irony).

    As this industry continues to grow, it is only a matter of time before people will try to regulate it. Especially because there is so much money to be made! Can you imagine what it would generate in revenue for the real estate industry if we all had to go to real estate classes, take the real estate exams AND had to pay a percentage of our income to a broker? Egad! No thank you.

    Take a moment to review your website. If you offer absentee home checks or rental support services, be sure you don't use the words Property Management anywhere. And do take a moment and add the home watch definition recommended above.

    If you'd like more info or are unsure what category you fall into or what to say to help protect your business, by all means, give me a call -- 760-898-9604 -- and I'll help you out.

    And don't forget -- we offer a concierge data collection software system that can save you up to 20 hours per week of data management! That will help you have plenty of time to promote your business and do tasks that actually further your goals!

    Sign Up today for a demo or to get your database* NOW. For more info: 760.898.9604 or email!

    *Note: The database requires an ongoing $125/mo license fee. The $300 is the setup fee plus all the documents as described.


  • August 27, 2019 3:04 PM | Katharine Giovanni (Administrator)

    Recently, several ICLMNet members asked me why I have invited my "competition" to join the network.

    Excellent question!

    Let me answer by first asking you a question. If you were the only concierge company in town, could you handle all the business? 

    Probably not.

    About ten years ago, I picked up a client who need to reorganize her business fast. She was a single mother who decided to target busy mothers who worked in Washington DC. To find these women, she decided to advertise in a popular local paper (the internet wasn't as robust as it is today) and WHAM! It worked!! In only a few weeks she went from no clients to hundreds wanting her services. She became so overwhelmed with all the business she decided to close down for a few months and reorganize. She relaunched her business a few months later.

    Here’s another way to look at competition …

    What would McDonalds be if Burger King hadn’t come on the scene?? Wendy’s? Chick-fil-A?

    Think they spend their time sending each other hate mail?? Actually, in the last few weeks they have been having a hilarious chicken sandwich war and have been trading jokes and friendly banter back and forth over Twitter.

    See my point? PLENTY of business for everyone. One town can certainly handle more than one company offering the same basic services with no problem at all.

    I think competition is good for the soul. It forces us to do better and offer a better product. I also firmly believe in building relationships and working together towards the common good. 

    And yes … I practice what I preach. I’ve actually trained a few of my competitors over the years (although I’ll admit I didn’t know it at the time) and often give them referrals. In fact, I just sent a referral out last week!

    Should I get mad every time someone publishes another book on the Concierge industry? Not my style. Plus I think the more books out there on the subject, the better!

    Here’s a snippet from “The Concierge Manual” that explains this point quite well… 

    After I graduated from college in 1984 (I’m seriously dating myself here), I found a job working as an administrative assistant to a meeting planner. After a few months, I discovered that not only did I enjoy the work, but I had an aptitude for it. In those days, however, there were no books on meeting planning or courses you could take to learn meeting planning. You just learned it from the bottom up while in the field. Not many people knew what a meeting planner was back then, and certainly no one was teaching the subject in college.

    Today, meetings are a billion-dollar industry. Colleges are offering majors in meeting planning, seminars are being taught around the world on the topic, associations have been created for meeting planners, and hundreds of books have been written on the subject. The personal concierge industry is going the same way as the meeting industry; it just isn’t going to take decades to do it. It’s already a billion-dollar industry as I sit here writing this. Quite soon, I think you are going to see colleges and universities offering concierge courses. The industry already has books, software, conferences, workshops, business opportunities, franchises, and groups (such as www.ICLMNet.com) dedicated to the industry.

    This is exactly why I decided to invite my “competitors” to join my concierge network back in 2000 when I started it. A practice I continue to this day. The industry needs them if we are going to grow as a group. 

    Working together will get us farther than working apart.

    My advice to everyone is to bless your competition, shake their hand and welcome them to the neighborhood. Say positive things about them and build a relationship with them. Don’t judge them for what they do or not do. Instead, greet them warmly and let them be. Plus, never ever speak badly about them. 

    Now why would I want to do that? Good question … one reason might be that it’s the last thing they’ll expect you to do. It will certainly shock them for a minute!

    The real reason is this … there is a universal principle that states what you put out into the world will bounce back at you like a boomerang. I know that you’ve all heard this one. If you put out honesty, integrity, love and respect … they will bounce right back at you and will only make your business better and more prosperous. If you put out jealousy, anger, fear and hatred then please learn to duck because it’s coming right back at you. Treat your competition as you yourself would like to be treated.

    Love will always get you farther than hate.

    Copyright © 2019 by Katharine C. Giovanni

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