Follow Us

Log in

<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   5   Next >  Last >> 
  • 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.


    (The 20th Anniversary Edition of Katharine's Book The Concierge Manual will be coming out in October! Stay tuned!)

    Copyright © 2019 by Katharine C. Giovanni

  • August 21, 2019 1:36 PM | Katharine Giovanni (Administrator)


    My number one business tip of all time?

    Switch out the words “you’re welcome” to “it was my pleasure.”

    Many of you have heard me tell this to people. What you might not have heard is WHY I tell people to do this.

    In today’s high-tech world where we are all actively staring at our phones, true customer service tends to get lost. You say “thank you” to someone, and you might get a quick “sure” or a nod of their chin. Saying “it was my pleasure” is a display of authentic kindness. When someone is expressing their gratitude by saying “thank you”, answering with a casual “no problem” or “it’s nothing” trivializes and devalues it.

    Is THAT how you want someone to feel after an interaction with you?

    Saying “it was my pleasure” immediately raises you to an entirely new level of customer service. Actually, it raises the bar for you personally as well as it makes you stand apart from everyone else around you. An exceedingly polite “it was my pleasure” makes people think. It stops them dead in their tracks.

    People might not remember what you said or did for them, but they will ALWAYS remember the feeling they walked away with.

    This is why the last interaction with you is the most important as THAT is the one they remember.

    Here’s an example of what I’m talking about…

    Apologies for the interruption, but search engines only allow you to post your article in one place ... To read the rest of the article, please visit the article's page on Medium...

    https://medium.com/@katharinecgiovanni/four-words-that-will-change-your-business-b1ddad76d197

  • July 18, 2019 12:34 PM | Katharine Giovanni (Administrator)


    Life is hard. Or it can be great. It depends on your perspective. Two people can look at the exact same thing and each have different thoughts about it.

    Take a traffic jam, for example. You could stress out about the drivers cutting in front of you, or the fact that you might be late for work. From there you would arrive at your office grumpy and late. You might then take it out on your associates and make everyone around you miserable. Then, instead of going out to a nice lunch with them, they might avoid you like the plague and let you eat that stale granola bar you've had in your desk for weeks.

    Or you could look at it this way. Being stuck in traffic allows you to finally listen to that audio book you've had in your car. Or, you could call your mom and have a nice chat with her!  You could sit there and be thankful for the fact that you have a job to go to, many people don't. You arrive at work happy and ready to go and might have the most productive day you've ever had. Plus your associates invite you out to lunch with them and you laugh and have a wonderful time.

    (Apologies for the interruption, but search engines only allow you to post your article in one place) ... Please click here to read the rest of the article: https://vigyaa.com/@KatharineGiovanni-1843/stuck-in-a-rush-hour-traffic-jam-449b95ab/ 

  • June 17, 2019 4:39 PM | Katharine Giovanni (Administrator)


    "I can’t believe you called me back!”

    Sadly, I get this reply a LOT when I respond to email as I am very quick to reply. Even if I can't answer right away (I might be in a meeting), I generally reply with a quick "I got it and will get back to you by __) as soon as I can. I send them something so they know I saw their message. They feel valued.

    Voice mails? As often as possible, I answer within one business day or sooner.

    Why do I do this?

    First, it’s good customer service.

    Second, it gets clients. I have gotten many clients because I respond so fast.

    Unfortunately, I seem to be abnormal in today's world as most people don't practice this. I actually had someone tell me once that I shouldn't answer people fast because they will think that I don't have anything better to do.

    REALLY? I strongly disagree! (And yes, they actually said that to me.)

    Please click here to read the rest of the article

    (Apologies for the interruption, but search engines only allow you to post your article in one place)

  • June 05, 2019 10:30 AM | Katharine Giovanni (Administrator)


    Don’t you hate it when your computer crashes?  Happened to me a few months ago. In fact, it didn’t just crash, it CRASHED! So badly I had to take it to The Geek Squad to be fixed.

    The good news is that it works fine now. The bad news is that I lost all my apps. I didn’t lose files because I regularly back my files up to a second hard drive.

    So while I was reloading everything, I thought I would share my ten favorites with you…

    Copperwww.copper.com – a free CRM that works with your GMAIL account. I just love it.

    Wavewww.waveapps.com – If you can’t afford Quickbooks, then this is a good FREE Accounting software. Love free!

    Bufferwww.buffer.com – my social media scheduler. Although you could use Hootsuite, Buffer works better for me.

    Mailchimpwww.mailchimp.com – this is where I keep my email list, send out newsletters and other marketing materials.

    Canvawww.canva.com – a great software where you can design your own graphics and marketing materials.

    Pexelswww.pexels.com – need royalty free images? Pexels is the place for you.

    Animotowww.animoto.com-  If you want to create your own marketing videos, Animoto is fantastic

    Picmonkeywww.picmonkey.com – Don’t have Photoshop? Try Picmonkey!

    Zoomwww.zoom.us – video conferencing software. Perfect for webinars.

    PayPalwww.paypal.com – merchant services. Been using it for years now.

    There are many more that I use, this is just to get you started.

    Good luck!

    Katharine


  • April 18, 2019 3:10 PM | 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.)

  • March 22, 2019 11:53 AM | Katharine Giovanni (Administrator)


    I have three questions…

    Are your customers/guests happy?

    Do they come back and buy again?

    Could you do better?

    Yes. We could all do better. Even someone who offers five-star concierge-level service is always striving to do better.

    That being said, the first step to offering concierge-level service is to map out your customer/guest experience. From the very first greeting to the last, what happens? Where do they go? Who do they speak to? Map out the steps. ALL the possible steps, no matter how many.

    Then, after you’ve mapped out your customer’s journey, there are some questions you might ask.

    • What could ruin a customer’s experience? Brainstorm them all and then solve each one.
    • How responsive are you to incoming customers/guests’ questions and issues? How long does it take your staff to respond via email, telephone or online?
    • Does your support staff have all the tools they need to effectively do their jobs?

    Click here to read the rest of the article on Katharine's LinkedIn Blog!


  • February 20, 2019 3:39 PM | Katharine Giovanni (Administrator)

    By Katharine Giovanni

    About 15 years ago, I was flying home from a training gig and arrived at the airport. Since I had been training people for two days, I was tired and ready to go home. I got into line at the gate to get onto the plane, and as I stood there, I found myself surrounded by a group of Japanese businessmen. Now when I say surrounded, I mean SURROUNDED. We were standing shoulder to shoulder with their arms and shoulders touching mine. Since I’m a typical American and like to have some personal space around me, this situation made me uncomfortable. So since I was in no hurry to board the plane, I stepped out of line and moved to the back.

    A little while later, I was sitting comfortably in an aisle seat on the airplane. After I got settled, I politely nodded to the businessman next to me. Since it was obvious that he didn’t speak English, I opened the book that I had brought with me and started to read. About thirty minutes later, he decided to visit the restroom. So he stood up, lifted his leg, and tried to crawl over my body. Since I generally don’t like people I don’t know crawling over my lap, I immediately stood and held my hand out indicating he should wait. I then politely motioned him to go by. I sat down and tried to go back to my book.

    I just knew he was going to do it again upon his return, so I was ready when he arrived a few minutes later.  However, before I had time to stand up, the leg came up a second time and he tried to crawl over me. I repeated the performance I gave a few minutes before and stood, held out my hand, and motioned him to go back to his seat.

    After it was all over, I quietly sat there and tried to breathe. I attempted to calm myself by reading my book, but after I read the same sentence four times, I knew that it was impossible. So I put my book down and glanced around the cabin. Imagine my surprise when I saw all the Japanese doing the exact same thing as my seat mate. My anger dissolved in a heartbeat. I immediately realized that a gesture they consider to be polite and normal in Japan, we consider rude here in the United States.

    How can you be mad at that?

    My journey into the world of international protocol began. I purchased a few books, visited websites, and made absolutely sure that I checked out the customs of my clients’ countries before I met with them. I’m not saying I always get it right, but I’m trying.

    This leads me to international gestures. Please be careful here because a gesture that is common in the United States might be terribly rude in another country. For example, if someone asks you for directions in the United States, you might raise your right hand and point with your finger. However, pointing is considered extremely rude in many countries. If you have to point, then I suggest that you point using an open hand with your thumb curled into the palm of your hand and your other four fingers locked together.

    Here are some examples that I pulled from the wonderful book Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands by Terri Morrison and Wayne A. Conway. The book lists dozens of countries and protocols:

    Talking with your hands

    In the United Kingdom, it is considered impolite to talk with your hands in your pockets. Also, Brits keep their hands on the table when eating (as opposed to Americans who put their hands in their laps).

    Gestures

    In Japan, even the slightest gesture can mean something, so make sure you don’t make any expansive hand or arm gestures. Although pushing your way through a crowd is extremely impolite here in the U.S., it’s not in Japan. In fact, I’m told that it’s the only way you can get on the Japanese subways.

    Eye contact

    In the U.S., direct eye contact is a sign of honesty. However, in Latin America, prolonged eye contact is considered aggressive, so if clients are not looking directly at you when they are speaking, then they are being polite. In Japan, prolonged eye contact is considered rude, as is pointing.

    Respect their comfort zone

    Americans have a few odd quirks, and this is one of them. As I mentioned above, when we stand next to someone, we like to have a two- to three-foot comfort zone around our body at all times. If someone invades that personal space, many will take a step back to reestablish our personal comfort zone.

    Not everyone feels this way though. Latin Americans like to stand close when they’re speaking to you, which is hard for an American because we’ll instinctively want to step back to keep our distance from them, which the Latin American will find rude. Greeks are expressive and will stand close to you and might even kiss you when you first meet them.

    What other quirks do Americans have? We’ll talk about anything— our family, our kids, our career, even sex, just don’t ask us how much money we make. Americans hate to tell people how much money they earn. Many Europeans don’t care and will tell you their earnings in a heartbeat. Americans? Not so much.

    Heads and hands

    When someone from Germany shakes your hand, it’s often accompanied by a nod of the head. Germans find it insulting if you speak to them with your hands in your pockets.

    Left hands

    In the Muslim and Hindu world, your left hand is considered unclean. So use your right hand as much as possible.

    Feet

    Feet are considered unclean in South Africa and India, so don’t touch anything with your feet. If you do, apologize immediately. In Singapore, you shouldn’t sit with your legs crossed because it shows the bottom of your feet, which is considered extremely rude.

    Gifts

    Be careful when you are giving gifts, especially when it comes to color. For example, the color for mourning is black in the United States, red in parts of Africa, and white in Asia. Never give anything made from cowhide to Hindus, as cows are considered sacred.

    I could go on and on, but I won’t, of course. This was just a small sample to give you a little taste of international protocol and how important it is. If you want to offer concierge-level service, then you must have a good working knowledge of other people’s customs around the world.

    One last thought. If you don’t understand the person because of his heavy accent, please don’t pretend that you do. Honesty is always the best policy. Smile and apologize, and then gently tell the person you’re having a hard time understanding him. Ask him to slow down a bit. The key here is to make the person realize that you are genuinely trying to understand and help him.

    For more information about international protocol, I suggest that you visit http://www.kissboworshakehands.com. I actually have a copy of the book on my desk and will read the necessary chapter when I have an international client flying in so I know what to say and do. Another great protocol site that I use quite often is http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/resources.

    Copyright 2019 by Katharine Giovanni. All Rights Reserved.

    If you wish to reprint this article, please email us.


  • January 02, 2019 2:40 PM | Katharine Giovanni (Administrator)

    For anyone who follows me on social media, you know that I enjoy posting good news facts and articles to combat all the negativity. So, to start 2019 on a positive note, here are a few really great things that happened in 2018.

    1. Twelve boys who were stuck in a cave for 3 weeks in Thailand were successfully rescued.
    2. According to the United Nations, the ozone hole will be healed over the Arctic by 2030. 
    3. A man donated 200,000 air miles to several people so that they could fly home for the holidays.
    4. In the United States, more than 100 women were elected to the House.
    5. Researchers were able to reverse some damage to Alzheimer’s brain cells. It’s more complicated, but that is the gist of it. So exciting!

    Click here to read the rest of the article (originally posted in my LinkedIn blog)

<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   5   Next >  Last >> 



ICLMNet is a part of The Giowell Group

Copyright 2019 by The Giowell Group. All Rights Reserved


Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software