When Welcome Wagon debuted in 1928, the company followed in the footsteps of pioneers who delivered baskets of food, water and gifts in Conestoga wagons to new families settling the continent. The updated version of this service mimicked the nation: it was more market than hospitality driven. If you'd prefer to give this business a more personal touch, go to it. Don’t apologize for your desire to make a profit; it’s as American as the wagon behind the original idea.
Items you will need
- Office set-up
- Goals and objectives
- Marketing flier
Check out the competition to make sure you’ll be welcome in your community. Browse the phone book, the Internet and city or town commercial guides, using permutations of “welcome wagon” like greeting business and welcoming business to make sure your area isn’t already heavily populated with similar enterprises.
Write a business plan outlining your goals and objectives. Decide how you’ll approach area companies and retailers and how you’ll find, approach and engage newcomers. Work up a budget to cover basic needs: a phone line, desk, checking account, etc. Rent an office if you don’t plan to launch your welcome business from your home.
Make a comprehensive list of the items and services a typical newcomer requires after relocating: Restaurant guides, school information, community calendar, vehicle sticker application, lists of doctors and dentists and numbers for local government. Match these to local businesses to compile a solicitation roster.
Prepare sales material written and designed to convince potential clients that your welcome baskets will help increase their customer base and profits. List the benefits a typical business owner is sure to realize when they contract with your greeting service. Choose the basket you’ll use to hold merchandise and material.
Draw up business contracts. Establish a fee that will be paid to you by clients for including their materials, samples or coupons in your welcome basket. Conceive business policies—for example, how you will handle the issue of exclusivity? Will you turn down a prospective bakery because you already have one on board?
Anticipate doing serious legwork to sell business owners on the wisdom of using your welcome service. Visit realtors, doctors, tutors, dance studios, babysitters, hair cutters—anyone you can think of who can be of service to a family moving to your community. Bring contracts with you when you drop by.
Prepare to wear many hats once your welcome business is established. Learn to design simple coupons and gift certificates, charging a fee for this service so potential customers don't go elsewhere for this help. Be tenacious but gracious when you drum up new business. Pursue renewal contracts and be a conservative spender to enjoy your profits as much as you enjoy helping newcomers settle in.
Don’t pay for start-up guides to start your welcome wagon. There are too many places--including Bizy Moms (see Resource)--to obtain free materials.
Welcome Wagon is a legally-protected corporate name, so avoid using it when you pick a name for your business.
- WAGON image by SKYDIVECOP from Fotolia.com