The opportunity to set your own hours while helping the elderly with tasks they cannot handle themselves gives you a way to make money running errands. The startup costs are low as long as you have a reliable vehicle and a cell phone. According to Care.com, the average errand running rate is $11.50 an hour as of 2015, though prices vary by location and experience. To succeed, make sure you charge for both your time and expenses while keeping your available time booked.
Packages vs. Hourly
Offering service packages, such as a half or full day of services at a set rate, helps you calculate how much income you have coming in on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. This is ideal for planning purposes. But setting and offering an hourly rate, with a minimum one- or two-hour requirement, may be more lucrative and will compensate you for any delays you experience while running the errands. For instance, if you live in a high traffic area or must wait a long time at the pharmacy for a prescription to be filled, billing for every minute of that time can result in more money than offering a package price that doesn’t really cover all of your time.
List All Services
Create and share a list of the various errand-running services you provide. This helps you make more money on each client once she realizes you’re available for more than just picking up groceries or getting prescriptions filled. These services might include personal shopping, dropping off and picking up dry cleaning, taking clothes to a tailor, making bank deposits and delivering paperwork to accountants and attorneys. Offering food delivery services from restaurants and taking pets to the veterinarian are other possible services.
Fuel and Extra Hours
Charge a small per-mile fee for fuel to cover this expense, especially if you must drive more than a few miles to take care of the errand. Let customers know you also need to charge for any parking fees as well as extra fees for driving long distances to cover wear and tear on your vehicle. Charge a higher rate for errands that must be run on holidays or after your normal work hours. Set a higher hourly fee for rush services in which the client only gives you an hour or two’s notice.
Devise a clear cancellation policy stating all customers must give you 24 hours notice if they need to cancel. Let clients know you need to charge for the time you scheduled if notice is less than 24 hours. If you feel uncomfortable charging for cancellations, you can always tell customers that if you’re able to fill the time with another client’s errands, you will not need to charge the fee.
Ask others to help you spread the word about your errand services. Leave your brochures in the offices of physicians who practice geriatric medicine as well as at local senior centers or housing developments that cater to seniors. Place an ad in any newsletters these organizations send out, and put a flyer on the community bulletin board with tear-off phone numbers. Sign up at [Care.com] (https://www.care.com) to list your services as an errand runner.
Nancy Wagner is a marketing strategist and speaker who started writing in 1998. She writes business plans for startups and established companies and teaches marketing and promotional tactics at local workshops. Wagner's business and marketing articles have appeared in "Home Business Journal," "Nation’s Business," "Emerging Business" and "The Mortgage Press," among others. She holds a B.S. from Eastern Illinois University.