If you have lived in your current location for any length of time, you’ve probably noticed that some of your neighbors will disappear on vacation for extended periods of time. In fact, you may have several acquaintances in your circle that make this an annual ritual. There are also probably a few of them who will be gone for several months at a time. Not everyone has a friend, family member or neighbor who can keep a steady watch on their home and still keep up with their own household activities.
This growing trend of extended vacations would be a clue for you that there is a need for your home watch business. But how exactly would you launch one and start working? Well, first off, you have identified a need. Without a need, you have no reason to pursue the business idea any further. However, as long as people keep taking holidays away from their homes, you will have potential clients to serve with your home watch business. But that’s just the beginning. How do you formally create the business so that you can begin to earn some extra cash as someone who watches other homes when their owners are on vacation?
The following list will give you some valuable information that can lead you to create your new career and business.
1 – Legal Structure
This is probably the one step that will not only define the foundation of your business, but it also shows that you are serious enough to create a legal entity. This tells your potential customers that you are not doing this as a hobby or just for fun. But when you take this step, you also have to decide early on as to what format your home watch business is going to follow. You can operate it in one of two different ways. You can create a legal business entity as a sole proprietorship or as an LLC. Aside from each having different tax implications, there are other considerations to keep in mind such as how much you may have to expand the scope of your business if you get so busy that you need to add additional employees, vehicles and more. To learn more about the differences between a sole proprietorship and an LLC, visit nolo.com.
2 – Licensing
In order to legally operate your home watch business, you will be required to have a business license from your town or county to allow you to operate within the boundaries of the community you live in and intend to serve.
3 – Business Name
While you may not see this as a huge issue, it actually is. The name you choose for your home watch business is what will be used to identify you in many different ways. Not only will your business name appear on all marketing material you use, but it will also be the account name you will be using at financial institutions, at the offices of any licensing bureaus, as an invoice identity for any and all suppliers you work with and many, many other places. This is why you want your business name to be something you can live with for a long period of time. But how exactly do you come up with a good business name? Well, there are three basic rules that a good business name should follow: 1) It should be a name that is easy to remember, spell and say, 2) it should be a business name that says something about what your business is and, 3) your business name should also sound professional and caring.
4 – Supplies
Now that you have become a legal entity with proper licensing and a name to use to conduct business, you are going to require some additional supplies. You could operate your home watch business from a briefcase, a small table in the corner of your kitchen or in an actual office in your home. Regardless of the office space, you will need various office supplies. They will include such things as a cell phone, appointment calendars, business cards, and some form of tracking invoices and payments. A computer with standard invoice software will do until you need to expand and improve your billing system.
5 – Pricing
We’ve mentioned invoicing and revenues, but what will those be if you do not have a set pricing structure in place? The easy way to figure out what to charge your customers is to first set a goal of what amount of money you would like to earn per month. Once you figure that out, work backward. This means adding on the cost of all of your expenses for that month. That figure will tell you what the gross amount of revenue you will need per month in order to operate your home watch business and earn a profit. There are going to be a few different situations you will encounter that will show that you will very likely not be able to charge a blanket hourly rate for all of your customers. Some may just want you to stop by weekly to check doors and windows and to collect the mail. Others will require a more regular presence. Consider your rates carefully and don’t forget to provide discounts to seniors, and repeat customers. The discount structure is entirely up to you but may also bring you additional business.
6 – Service Schedule
We hinted at the fact that not all customers for your home watch business will require the same kind of service. That’s why you will need to build your menu of what types of services you are prepared to provide. This will also reveal to you a few extra add-ons that can be offered to enhance the services you are already providing. For example, you can build your home watch business on regular property checks. This may include checking all doors, windows, fences and other entry points. Another service variation on that could include interior walkabouts of homes, garages, sheds, and businesses provided keys are included. Add-ons could be mail collection, general yard clean-up, storm preparation, etc. You can even go beyond the parameters of a home watch business and offer to do errands specific to property that may require you to leave the property to complete. These are typically charged by time and mileage.
7 – Promotion
This is where you spend time and energy getting the word out about your home watch business in order to attract customers. You can rely on word of mouth for only so much additional business. But in order to reach the monthly revenue goals you set for your business, you will have to work at promoting it as well. Fortunately, you can advertise in many ways that will not cost you a penny or will cost very little. Depending on the amount of cash you have budgeted for advertising and promotion, you can also use various types of targeted marketing ranging from digital online promotions to business cards, posters, and vehicle signage. Regardless of what method you choose to promote your business, remember that you may need a website and a presence on social media channels in order to reach some of your potential customers.
Completing these seven steps will get you that much closer to having a profitable home watch business. If you skip any of them, there could be a negative impact on the effectiveness of your business and the ability it will have in attracting and keeping regular business. I have used this same basic formula many times in the past and I can assure you that if you are serious about starting your own business so that you can make your own money, you have to be serious about how you set that business up before you start signing up customers for your service. Good luck, you have chosen an interesting and profitable home-based business that can become a great source of revenue for you.
Our new guidebook, How to Start a Profitable Home Watch Business, covers everything you’ll need to get started and start making money in no time.