Home | I wouldn't buy it | Let’s look at a personal concierge service

Let’s look at a personal concierge service

I don’t get Entrepreneur Magazine sometimes. According to an article in the Las Vegas Business Press, Entrepreneur Magazine named a personal concierge service called “My Girl Friday” as one of the “hottest new franchises” in 2005. The first franchise was launched in 2005! How can a personal franchise business with one franchise in the personal concierge industry (seems I’ve been hearing its the hottest thing for the past 10 years) be named the “hottest” with ONE franchise?

The article’s author showcases her lack of business knowledge in this paragraph:

Hagenmaier projects that the Las Vegas operation of My Girl Friday will grow from one person to having from five to ten employees in the next 18 months. The company hires independent contractors, which mostly appeals to people willing to work flexible hours. Brommenschenkel explains that college students and retired workers make ideal independent contractors, because of their flexible schedules.

By definition independent contractors are not employees. It’s a small issue but that stood out to me.

Here’s more of the business description:

Services cost clients anywhere from $30 to $60 an hour, depending on the chore…My Girl Friday offers a full menu of services including traditional concierge services, personal chefs, errand running, pet care, party planning and assisting with business tasks.

She sounds like a personal assistant. So people will hire this woman as both a personal chef or party planner in Las Vegas? I suppose it is possible.

In my opinion, there are not many errands worth $60/hour. Most things for a minimal fee can be delivered and arranged quickly from a web site or one minute telephone call (travel, food delivery, dry cleaning, courier, pet sitter or walker). This business will be fighting technology and streamlined personal services offered directly from the service supplier (remember what happened to travel agents?). This is not a market I see growing or easy to establish a sustainable level of customers. Building a customer base that you serve on a daily or weekly basis will be exceedingly difficult. My Girl Friday franchises cost anywhere from $47,000 to $86,000, including the franchise fee.

About Ryan Knoll

Attorney and advisor with an interest in franchising. Feel free to email me comments and questions on the "Contact Us" page.

7 comments

  1. I would like to point out a few facts you missed when recently speaking about My Girl Friday. To clear up your confusion about Entrepreneur Magazine, they referred to My Girl Friday as one of the “hottest NEW franchises” in 2005 because of its independent market success and the proprietary software that each franchise owner receives when a My Girl Friday franchise is purchased. If you look at the other franchise opportunities listed in Entrepreneur, you will see that many of the “hottest NEW franchises” had not sold any franchises at the time the list was published. To question My Girl Friday as one of the hottest new franchises based on the amount of franchises sold is unfair. Many of the company’s featured in the article hadn’t sold any franchises when the article was published. That is why they are classified as NEW franchises.

    To question the author’s business knowledge based on the paragraph you cited is ridiculous. It is apparent that you misunderstood the paragraph. The fact is that as the Las Vegas location grows, it will use independent contractors to complete task demands. As regular clients are established, My Girl Friday Las Vegas will hire more full time employees to manage accounts and contractors that are used to ensure the best service possible.

    And for the record, before you criticize Julie Hagenmaier’s business knowledge, you may be interested to know that her success has been featured in Entrepreneur, Woman’s World, Travel Weekly, Las Vegas Business Press, The Cincinnati Business Courier, The Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati Post, and on Cincinnati’s WCPO, Fox 19, and WB 64, as well as Fox 59 in Indianapolis. My Girl Friday was a Service Corps of Retired Executives Client of the Year nominee in 2000 and Greater Cincinnati Chamber Emerging Excellence winner in 2001. Julie was recognized as a business leader being named one of the Cincinnati Business Courier’s Forty under 40 in 2004, and was a finalists for the 2004 Stevie Award for Women Entrepreneurs. I don’t know about anyone else, but this long list of accomplishments doesn’t typically happen to people with a lack of business knowledge.

    In your opinion there aren’t many errands worth $60 an hour. Most aren’t worth that much to My Girl Friday either. If you notice, the services range from $30 – $60 an hour with very few reaching the $60 range. Also, in response to your disbelief that anyone would hire one person to plan a party and act as a personal chef, My Girl Friday’s independent contractors specialize in a wide array of services. My Girl Friday will match up an accredited contractor to your needs making them a logical choice for a full menu of services. It acts as a one-stop-shop if you will.

    Harold Kestenbaum of the law firm Farrell Fritz advised Hagenmaier as she set up its franchise program, and called My Girl Friday an interesting concept. “Everything else is ‘me-too’ or a copycat, this is something different,” he said in Franchise Times.

    My Girl Friday is growing at a rapid rate. Only a six year-old company, it is now in 66 markets, which proves it is clearly a model for success.

  2. Thanks for your comment, but I think you jumped the gun a bit on your criticism.

    Keep in mind I look at franchises from a potential franchisee’s perspective from readily availabe public information.

    I no longer have the issue of Entrepreneur Magazine referenced above, but to me, Entrepeneur Magazine made a mistake by calling franchisor(s) with one franchise hot. Maybe the list should be called, "Are these the next hot business that will make hot franchises?". My Girl Friday does not have a record with franchisees yet, so I am cautious and skeptical.

    Second, my comment about "lack of business knowledge" was clearly attributed by me to the article’s AUTHOR, not the entrepreneur who started the business (Julie Hagenmaier). The paragraph may be clear to someone who intimately knows the business like you, but not to me. So perhaps my complaint about the author should be lack writing clarity instead of lack of business knowledge. Nonetheless, how the Las Vegas author chooses to phrase things is really a non-issue.

    The Las Vegas article says:

    "The company hires independent contractors, which mostly appeals to people willing to work flexible hours. Brommenschenkel explains that college students and retired workers make ideal independent contractors, because of their flexible schedules."

    They are described as "college and retired workers" and not as "experts" you stated. There is ambiguity.

    Are you saying personal concierge services are unique? You and your lawyer may think My Girl Friday is unique but does the market think so? You are fighting technology advances by service providers, preconceived ideas of personal conceirge services, and many other obstacles. I’ve read about different conceirge services over the years. Entrepeneur Mag has even written a short how-to 4 years ago – http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/0,4621,287025,00.html

    I don’t know what software you provide to franchisees, but coming from someone who has been engaged in several technology focused ventures, giving the franchisee
    custom software is generally not going to make a business model especially sustainable or give you a significant competitive advantage.

    Obviously, chefs and party planners are plentiful and often utilized, which is why I question given the competition whether enough clients would be willing to pay My Girl Friday’s markup for the service.

    I wish My Girl Friday success, and I hope they prove me wrong. Look at my posted article as constructive criticism and learn from it by finding ideas to improve the My Girl Friday business, marketing message and PR.

  3. Pendleton Capital

    Anonymous: I have to side with Franchise Pundit here. He makes some good points and raises many of the same things I would if you were in my office for a pitch (not to mention concerns raised by propsective franchisees). I understand the entrepreneur’s instinct to defend their business and jump to conclusions, but you’ll need to learn to roll with the punches and improve your message based on feedback from people like Franchise Pundit.

  4. It’s interesting to read this article so many years later. I’ve had a personal concierge company and successfully charged $65/hr to my 50+ clients and they LOVED me for it. I’d run their errands, take care of their bills, manage households, organize rooms, plan parties, etc. and the fact that I could take care of all aspects of their lives was priceless.

    Now that it has been 6 years since you wrote this, do you still feel the same? Also, I think the target demographic is quite wealthy so maybe that factors?

    Here’s a site I came across that gives the definition of a personal concierge like My Girl Friday. These companies have little or no overhead so it’s no surprise to me that they could be successful out the gate….that franchise cost though, not too sure if that’s worth it.

  5. It’s interesting to read this article so many years later. I’ve had a personal concierge company and successfully charged $65/hr to my 50+ clients and they LOVED me for it. I’d run their errands, take care of their bills, manage households, organize rooms, plan parties, etc. and the fact that I could take care of all aspects of their lives was priceless.

    Now that it has been 6 years since you wrote this, do you still feel the same? Also, I think the target demographic is quite wealthy so maybe that factors?

    Here’s a site I came across that gives the definition of a personal concierge like My Girl Friday. These companies have little or no overhead so it’s no surprise to me that they could be successful out the gate….that franchise cost though, not too sure if that’s worth it.

  6. It’s interesting to read this article so many years later. I’ve had a personal concierge company and successfully charged $65/hr to my 50+ clients and they LOVED me for it. I’d run their errands, take care of their bills, manage households, organize rooms, plan parties, etc. and the fact that I could take care of all aspects of their lives was priceless.

    Now that it has been 6 years since you wrote this, do you still feel the same? Also, I think the target demographic is quite wealthy so maybe that factors?

    Here’s a site I came across that gives the definition of a personal concierge like My Girl Friday. These companies have little or no overhead so it’s no surprise to me that they could be successful out the gate….that franchise cost though, not too sure if that’s worth it.

  7. It’s interesting to read this article so many years later. I’ve had a personal concierge company and successfully charged $65/hr to my 50+ clients and they LOVED me for it. I’d run their errands, take care of their bills, manage households, organize rooms, plan parties, etc. and the fact that I could take care of all aspects of their lives was priceless.

    Now that it has been 6 years since you wrote this, do you still feel the same? Also, I think the target demographic is quite wealthy so maybe that factors?

    Here’s a site I came across that gives the definition of a personal concierge like My Girl Friday. These companies have little or no overhead so it’s no surprise to me that they could be successful out the gate….that franchise cost though, not too sure if that’s worth it.

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