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Expert Answers to Biz Questions

Listen in! Pick up some expert advice to a reader's question that we selected from CyberSchmooz.

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The Biz Question

Hi,
I am new at this. I am a single mom of 4, who is at home. I have started a new business call 'fyt - free your time'. What is 'free your time, it is a personal (concierge) shopping service designed to free your time. We provide services such as grocery shopping, arranging appointments etc. My concerns are that that my immediate cash flow is limited, but I need to get exposure to get clients, do you have any suggestions. I have a website http://www.free-your-time.com. This website is still in the process of design. Any suggestions and comments will be welcome. Have a great day.

Diana

Answer from our Guest Expert Jim Chesky of Jim Chesky & Associates, Marketing Communications

Diana,

I am at a loss here. Is FYT a franchise operation? A nation wide business? I ask because that is the feeling I get when I visit your website. You offer a nationwide service. However, that was definitely NOT the feeling I got when I called the number listed on your website. Your answering service needs work. Call yourself after hours to check up on this. I suggest you consider using a voice mail service instead. Also, if you are going to offer a national service, get a toll free number.

Now, let's proceed with the idea you are not a national business. First, what you offer on your menu is certainly in vogue. Today, in so many families both parents are working long hours, and personal to-dos often go undone. This is even true of single moms and dads working their way up the corporate ladder. Everybody has the same complaint: I never have enough time.

Your first goal is to develop a target customer list. I know from your website what you do. (By the way, your website is pretty good too, just needs a little work, which we can discuss at another time) However, you need to take this list, and ask yourself for each service, who is it, that will be needing these services, and how can I let them know of my service?

For example, among the items you list are: Organizing your home or office. Who would need this? People just starting their home offices. Where would you find them? Look for small entrepreneur groups, prepare a presentation on "5 Steps to Better Home Office Organization", and offer to present it, no charge. And in doing so before every group that might harbor these prospects, you spread the word of your skills.

Do this for each service you wish to render. Don't do it alone, brainstorm with a friend. In person, or even by email if you have to. It's simple to ask who would use these service and where would I find them?

Who else uses a home office? Find organizations with large outside sales forces, where the outside sales people work out of their home. Prepare a one page flyer and give it to their sales manager. Tell the sales manager that statistics show that most sales reps with home offices waste up to one hour a day looking for misplaced items, you can help recover that hour, of you could help those reps to organize their home offices.

Become the expert on squeezing more time out of each day through better organizations or whatever. Do presentation of these social and civic organizations. Again your introduction is your commercial message. Have simple handouts that include your sales pitch.

Next, look for a local charity that would auction off a day or two of your services. Let the charity make the money, you want the free publicity.

Take each one of your services and create a talk on it that is about two minutes long. Offer this little two-minute how-to-tip as a free radio show on a local radio station. They get a free radio audience gathering show, you get the free publicity, and I mean free. You should be able give a 10 second commercial about your service in the beginning and the 5 second tag with your phone at the end. If this sounds intriguing to you, let me know and I can work with you on the details.

Lastly, ask for referrals. After each job you do, after you ask about their satisfaction with your work, ask for a referral. Whom do they know who would use your service this week? Asking for referrals builds strong businesses.

Diana, I wish you good luck.

Jim Chesky

Jim Chesky & Associates, Marketing Communications

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