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. One of the fastest growing senior service businesses is running errands for those in their golden years.
As seniors age, they often have difficulty getting around to run routine errands. By providing a service that takes care of everyday errands, seniors can continue to enjoy an independent life at home rather than in a care facility. It is also a wonderful way to make a living while making a difference in the lives of our elders.
What services to offer: Most errand runners specializing in seniors run basic errands, such as grocery shopping, picking up prescriptions or dry-cleaning and taking a pet to the groomer or vet. Others include transportation services, such as driving clients to doctor’s appointments or shopping.
Cost to start: The basics are a dependable car and a cell phone with voice mail. You’ll need business cards to hand out to prospective clients, as well as a simple flyer or brochure to leave at places like the local senior center. If you’re doing a lot of personal shopping for clients, you’ll want to have a camera built in to your cell phone to take pictures.
Skills required: This is a simple business, but you should be a well-organized person, as you’ll often be shopping – groceries, for example – for several clients at the same time. If you’re a “people person” who enjoys helping others, you’ll do well. Folks over 40 do better, as seniors tend to trust those closer to their own age than a much younger person.
Marketing your services: In the senior marketplace, trust is everything, and your first customers will tell their friends after you’ve gained their trust, and soon you will have all the customers you can handle. Pass out business cards to everyone you meet, and consider having a 25% off coupon printed on the back of the card for new customers only. This accomplishes two goals. First, people will keep your card rather than throw it away because of the coupon. Second, your cost of getting new customers with this method is zero, as you’ll still make money when they hire you the first time.
Every community has a senior center and over-55 communities. Most will allow you to run an inexpensive classified ad in their monthly newsletter. Do that every month until you’re too busy to take any new clients.
Legal requirement: You’ll need to get a business license from your local town or county. If you plan to use a fictitious business name, find out what’s required by your town, county or state. If you’re using your car for business, especially if you’re driving clients to appointments or shopping, check with your insurance agent to make sure you have the right policy to cover your activities.
To learn more about starting your own personal errand service for local seniors, read How to Start a Profitable Senior Errand Service.