• Advice

What to consider before offering concierge freelance services

What if instead of your established clients coming to you, you go to them? Think Amazon Prime meets freelancer or specialist for hire. With the hectic nature of many of our clients’ lives, it may be time to think outside of the box in terms of the best ways to provide them with excellent service.

One way to do this is literally traveling, short or long distances, in order to meet clients who may not be able to come to you. Of course, safety is an issue so this may work best with clients with whom you have established a relationship and who would be amenable to paying for your travel and housing expenses.

Sound interesting? Well, here are a few things to consider before you book that flight.

Do You Have Clear Boundaries?

Before you even consider concierge services, you must give careful consideration to how you establish and enforce your professional boundaries. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of protecting yourself. Therefore, freelance concierge services may work best when you are interacting with established clients with whom you have a professional history and context.

Having said that, if you are going to offer traveling services, make sure that you have a well-executed and legally binding contract in place. In addition to information pertaining to your fees, housing, transportation, and per diem, include clauses that stipulate where you plan to meet and the duration of the meeting.

Public places may be the best option to ensure that there is an element of neutrality. This is not to say that home visits are not an option, but make sure that you know your client very well before going to his/her home. If possible, consider taking an assistant with you. Furthermore, be clear about the time that is earmarked for business versus time that you may want to use for socializing and fellowshipping with one another.

By establishing clear boundaries, it helps to ensure that both you and your client have clear and measurable expectations.

Is It Worth It?

When determining if traveling services are a viable option for you, the next thing that you want to do is determine the costs that are involved and I am not talking exclusively about money. Think about your time and overall efficacy. Let’s say that you have a client who lives on a different coast; she’s agreed to your daily rate and all of your expenses. On paper, the transaction looks great.

However, have you thought about opportunity cost? Simply stated, opportunity cost is often used to describe the loss of potential gain from one alternative (project) when another alternative (project) is selected. In other words, while you are traveling through the airport, going through TSA, waiting to board, and are in-flight, what else could you have been working on? Even if your client is paying for the travel, it is important to think about whether or not your time is being fairly compensated compared to if you factored out the travel. In other words, is it really worth it?

This question is not intended to deter you, but rather to help you make an informed decision. The first time I traveled to help a client with a book project, I undercharged. I did not factor in travel time in my rate. I flew up on a late Wednesday evening. I was contracted for two days, Thursday and Friday, with an evening flight back home that Friday. After being delayed in an airport by poor weather and eventually having several flights cancelled, what was supposed to be a two-day business trip was extended to four days with two of those days being non-work days. Being self-employed that equated to two days of no income.

Does this provide added value for your clients?

Obviously, this can be an expensive additional cost for your clients; therefore, it will not be appealing to some of them, especially depending on the services that you offer. Personally, I never set out to travel to meet my clients. It was actually a client who was experiencing serious writer’s block that led to the launching of this ancillary service. She sent me a 911 text. I was in the Midwest and she was in New York City.

Whereas serendipity led me down this path, I recommend that you do extensive research and think about your current clientele’s needs. Most importantly, ask: How does a face-to-face meeting, as opposed to a virtual or electronic exchange, add to my client’s overall experience?

If seeing you or meeting with you helps them to build additional trust and it adds to your overall working relationship, then some clients will find that the extra costs are well worth it. In addition, some people prefer hands-on work time and being able to read another person’s energy and affect. Whereas some people think that this a great idea, others may balk at the costs involved or they are perfectly content with an email or virtual exchange.

Recently, I have noticed that there is a growing market for freelancers who are willing to travel in order to render their services. It now makes up about 15% of my workload. However, it may be a market that renders a greater yield for other freelancers. As with any service that you plan to offer, make sure that you’ve done your homework.

I also highly recommend that you talk to others who have been doing it for a while or who offer concierge services with great frequency. And remember, no amount of money in the world is worth jeopardizing your safety or well-being.

Tyra Seldon Tyra Seldon is a former English Professor turned writer, editor and small business owner. Her writing addresses the intersections of race, gender, culture and education.