Knowing your competition is crucial to the success of your business. Having direct competition can actually help your business as more people will know what a personal concierge is, but the indirect competition (the cleaners, organizers, party planners, etc) can also affect your business. If you are reading these posts in order, you should already have started a list of potential competitors when studying the demand for your services and learning what providers people have used. Let’s build on that.
Things to Keep in Mind
• Focus on service providers that provide the same services as you intend to provide.
• Many personal concierge companies only advertise through word-of-mouth so it will likely take some time to learn of all the personal concierges in your area.
• Your primary competition will likely be educating people on what a personal concierge is and why to use one over having a variety of service providers, but we’ll get into that in the next post.
What to Look For
• Find companies doing any of the services you intend to offer (e.g. organizers, party planners, tech support, bookkeepers, etc) who also seem to focus on your market.
• Seek out other personal concierges and remember that a personal concierge could also be called a lifestyle manager, residential concierge, and a girl friday among other names. It would help to know what personal assistants, house managers, and other comparable services providers are out there.
How to Find the Competition
• Keep asking around to build upon your initial list.
• Go to Craigslist and search the various keywords of the services you may offer.
• Go to Angie’s List and do the same searches (if you buy the annual membership, you can cancel it right after your search for a full refund if you don’t find Angie’s List useful). Angie’s List can be a great source of information as it will give you actual reviews, rates, and stories on potential competition. It won’t show you all of the competition, but I visited it often to learn what I could of service providers in particular areas and to find service providers for jobs my clients requested of me.
• Go to your state business registry online and search for companies with “concierge” and other keywords in the title. Most concierge businesses (even the ones without websites or marketing) will have a legal business name and, since this is all public record, you can get a wealth of information here. Pull the names and research them, culling out the non-personal concierge companies.
• Go to NAPO and local concierge associations to see who’s registered in your area. Find the ones that look like they may be real competition.
What to do with Your List
• Find out what you can about your competition. What neighborhoods/classes to they target? How successful are they? How are they marketing themselves?
• Contact a few of these competitors and take them out to lunch. Ask them how they are doing, what they’d recommend to a new concierge, and how you could help each other grow. Believe me, it does help to have working relationships with the competition. Remember that there are more customers than any one concierge can handle well and that getting to know your competition is a great way to understand what customers they might want that you wouldn’t touch, which neighborhoods you may not want to pursue, and what other concierge companies are out there. A well seasoned concierge will know all this.
• Step back and really look at the list. Is there a lot of competition or a little? Are there areas that aren’t being as well served as other areas? What are the average rates?
• Visit all the websites you find. Pull metrics on those sites: How much traffic do the sites get? How many people are subscribing to their blog? Some of this information will be difficult to get so just get what you can.
• While it is great to know the single service providers that are competing for the same clients, there is no need to do to much research on these as you can either work with them since you offer additional services or push them out for the same reason.
The Big Picture
Now review your market from the last post. How many potential clients in your target market are there? How many competitors focused on the same market? How many clients could each of these competitors serve? In my city of Portland, Oregon, my clients wanted me to be personally involved in some way or another so I could only handle about 100 clients with my staff. However other areas (such as Los Angeles) where personal services are more common will more likely allow for a concierge company to grow past the reach of the owner(s) oversight so maybe a good guess would be 600-1500 clients per concierge company. And some concierges learn that just a few (1-6) fantastic clients bring in more money and less stress so they don’t grow any further. Is there enough demand to make all the concierge companies happy? And either way, remember that you’re going to be better than most of those companies!
Gauge your competition, look at what neighborhoods may be easier to build a name in, and start thinking about the kind of concierge you want to be.