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Referral Service

Help people find businesses that can help them out.

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Business At A Glance

Referral Service
Startup Costs: $2,000 – $10,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Online Operation? Yes

Business Overview

If you’re the one everybody in your circle calls for help when they’re trying to find a good doctor, attorney, plumber or cleaning service, and if you love being on the phone, then a referral service could be the business for you. You can specialize in one area or several, depending on your preferences and the size of your town. You might run an attorney referral service, matching callers to specialists in family, real estate or criminal law; a physicians’ service matching up potential patients with pediatricians, cardiologists and other health-care specialists; or a homeowners’ network, referring consumers to plumbers, painters, and cleaning and lawn care services. Keep in mind that most areas have attorney and physician referral services through local bar associations and hospitals–if you want to compete with these, you’ll have to come up with a special niche that will bring consumers to you.

You can also specialize in travel and tours, entertainment, apartment rentals, baby-sitters, real estate agents, bridal services–just about any service that people need help with. You can also run your referral service online instead of on the phone–or do both. The choice is yours. The advantages to this business are that you get to spend all day on the phone and you get to talk to lots of interesting people. It’s a good idea to have some background or experience in the type of referrals you’ll specialize in. You’ll thoroughly screen the businesses on your list, finding out how they work and what they do best, then checking references so you know you’re referring consumers to only the best, which means you’ll need good communication and people skills.

The Market

Your customers will be both the businesses on your list and consumers who call in to get referrals, so you’ll conduct your marketing campaign in two stages. First, investigate the businesspeople you’d like on your list. If they check out well, send them a sales letter or contact them by phone and explain that you would like to include them in your service. Sell them on the benefits. When you get a good list of referrals worked up, you’ll need to attract consumers’ attention so you can give your businesses their money’s worth.

The best way to go about this is to place prominent ads in the Yellow Pages under each category where people might look–if you’re doing homeowner referrals, for instance, you’ll want to place ads under lawn care, cleaning services, plumbing and the like. You can also place service ads in the classified sections of your local paper and post fliers where your target consumers will see them. If you’re referring baby-sitters, put them up at kid-oriented areas like karate and dance academies, day-care centers, public libraries and parks. And don’t forget churches and supermarkets for any type of referral service.

Needed Equipment

You’ll need a computer and database software capable of handling all the businesses on your list and a two-line phone with a telemarketer-type headset so your ears don’t get sore. If you can’t afford a computer for starters, you can get going with a good handwritten list and purchase your electronics later. Of course, if you’re going with an online service, you’ll have to have the computer as well as a good Web site.

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Business Services

Errand Service Business Opportunity

Help busy people get through the day by providing an errand service.

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running-errands-for-people

Business At A Glance

  • Business: Errand Service
  • Start-up Costs: Minimum
  • Home Based: Can be operated from home.
  • Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
  • Online Operation? Yes

Business Overview

Let’s face it; today’s busy lifestyles mean that a lot working people just don’t have time for even the simplest of errands, such as taking the family pet to the veterinarian for a routine checkup, buying AuntSue a birthday present, or picking up the kids after school.

Which is great news if you’re a multi-tasker looking to start your own simple,inexpensive, yet potentially very profitable business. An errand service can be operated with nothing more than a cell phone and reliable transportation.

Land clients by networking and by creating a simple marketing brochure explaining the services you provide along with your contact information.
Related: Start A Small Business, Become Self–Employed

The brochures can be pinned to community bulletin boards, hand-delivered to homes and businesses and distributed with the local newspaper.

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 fuelled by referrals, so customer service and satisfaction are the most important goals.

The Market

Busy individuals who need a little help getting their day to day errands done. You can also market your services to small business owners.

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Business Services

Showroom Props

Help customers stage the perfect show by renting the right props.

Entrepreneur

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Business At A Glance

Showroom Props
Startup Costs: $2,000 – $10,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Online Operation? No

Business Overview

Many retailers use props for store displays as opposed to the real product. Using props enables the retailer to keep costs down when establishing or updating a showroom. It also reduces the financial loss in the event of damage or theft of the showroom displays. There are two options in terms of initiating a business that sells showroom props to retailers: The first option is to design and manufacture the props; the second is to purchase the props in bulk on a wholesale basis from established manufacturers and add a profit percentage for resale. While both options are viable, the second option is far less costly to start and operate. However, the profit potential is also greatly reduced for the second option of operating. Careful research and planning will indicate the preferred method for starting the business for you.

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Business Services

Site Sign Installation Service

Temporarily install company site signs in front of customers’ homes being worked on by renovation or other improvement companies.

Entrepreneur

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Business At A Glance

Site Sign Installation Service
Startup Costs: Under $2,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Online Operation? No

Business Overview

Here is a terrific business to start and operate in conjunction with a door hanger service. Company site signs are temporarily installed in front of a customers’ home telling people in the neighborhood who the company is that is performing the work, as well as what business they’re in and how to contact the company. Most construction, renovation and home service companies realize the value of installing site signs. However, time restrictions usually mean the sign never gets installed. Thus, the free advertising benefits never get realized. This is a wise choice for a new business venture. And when combined with a door hanger service, clients will get a double whammy for their advertising buck.

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