The real estate agent that helped us find our home in Blue Ridge is a friend I’ve know since high school, Sandy Wilbanks (if you’re thinking of moving to Blue Ridge, contact her – she’s awesome!). At the time we started looking for a home, Sandy had been living in BR for about 8 years and knew the area very well. I mentioned to her that my marketing business had slowed down a bit. She suggested a great idea – a property care, home/cabin watch, and concierge service business for absentee owners of mountain vacation cabins. Her suggestion got my attention.
As she explained more, I learned that a large majority of these absentee owners were in need of a trustworthy, honest, professional to handle various projects and needs for them. Example:
A new owner lives in Tampa, FL. They buy a new construction cabin and are about to furnish it. They need someone to open the cabin and accept deliveries. They need someone there to let the propane gas guy in. They need landscaping. They need housekeeping services, And the list just goes on and on. And based on what Sandy was telling us, there just weren’t many service professionals in BR filling the need. After some research and developing a marketing plan, we decided to start a company to fill this void and we named it Getaway Valet.
I joined the Fannin County Chamber of Commerce with Getaway Valet and also signed up for the Leadership Fannin training course in early 2013 as a way to meet local leaders and build a network. And it worked. Between referrals through the Chamber and referrals through real estate agents, Getaway Valet was gaining about 1 customer per month. And it could have done much better if I had put 100% of my time into it. But as fate would have it, when 2013 rolled around, my established marketing business (Key Concept Services, Inc.) started getting busy again and I spent most of my time on it and my long-time, established customers. Getaway Valet became the fill-in business but I knew it had great potential.
By opening Getaway Valet, I learned a lot about what people want as it relates to service and it just confirmed what I already believed … people desire and expect 100% customer service – especially people with extra money to afford a vacation cabin. But as we all know, 100% customer service is vanishing from most service-oriented businesses. I can’t tell you how many times people smiled and thanked me just for showing up on time. I heard so many stories of how some of the local service providers never showed up, never returned phone calls, and on and on the complaints went. I found out quickly that my professional training, management training, and just a basic good upbringing from good parents made a big difference in me as an adult.
Operating Getaway Valet for the past years also confirmed my belief that Sharon and I were ready to enter the professional property caretaker business and lifestyle. We know how to do it. We know how to WOW customers with extraordinary services. We know what we like in excellent customer service and would provide nothing short of our standards for anyone who might hire us. Our confidence is high and when the right position comes along, we will be ready.
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