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By Deb Cohen, founder of Homeowner Referral Network
In June of 2002, I received a call from a woman in Michigan who was interested in launching a business from home. Robbie Meyer was 52 years old at the time and had worked for more than 35 years in various administrative and management consultant jobs. She had also done the bookkeeping for her husband’s remodeling business for many years. But, when her husband took a job as a Building Official for a nearby township Robbie started to look for something else to do. She still had children at home and was also caring for an elderly mom so working from home was a must.
Robbie had learned about the HRN business after doing some research online and the idea of starting a business that would match homeowners with pre-screened home improvement professionals appealed to her.
“The HRN business was one of many businesses that I reviewed. It seemed a good fit because I could work from home and have scheduling flexibility and it would produce income. Additionally, I could use our home office which was already fully functional.”
Robbie also recognized the need for an HRN in her community.
“Thirty percent of my husband’s work was correcting errors made by other contractors so I knew there was a contractor issue in our area. Further, it seemed that we were always getting calls from people looking for all types of contractors so this was another clue.”
Three months after Robbie and I spoke by phone, she launched Homeowner Referral Service of Michigan, LLC and in less than 4 months, she was able to cover her monthly overhead including a bi-monthly paycheck to herself. And within her first year of operation, Homeowner Referral Service of Michigan generated enough revenue to allow Robbie to repay herself for all of her initial start-up expenses.
She recalls, “My first job was a chimney sweep for $65.00 and I netted a big $6.50 commission!” After that most of her jobs were kitchen, bathroom and family room remodeling projects, roofing, painting, cement work and repair jobs.
Robbie worked approximately 25-30 hours a week to launch her business and most of her job referral requests were generated by a small article which was published in her local paper announcing the launch of her business. In addition to phone calls and website inquiries from homeowners, Robbie’s article was also noticed by a local television station. Intrigued by her service, the station decided to profile Homeowner Referral Service of Michigan on the evening news generating more than 125 contacts in three days following the broadcast!
According to Robbie, “Customers referred other customers and the ball rolled pretty steadily after that”
Robbie’s words of advice for others considering the launch of an HRN:
“It can get out of hand very quickly. Homeowners were referring other homeowners, contractors were referring other contractors, etc. and pretty soon I was operating out of four counties. My options were to either hire staff and move into another location or cut back. I decided to cut back so that I could just handle things myself. Had I been even 10 years younger, I would probably have gone the other route.”
And, she says that “the most enjoyable aspect (about this business) is how easily it flows once it is set up in addition to the positive feedback from homeowners and contractors. As long as you keep up with the phone calls and paperwork, this is a very easy business to operate.”
The feedback from contractors and homeowners has been positive as well. “I had one homeowner who called me before the painter was even out of his driveway and told me that I had made his life easier. And, contractors love it because it promotes their business. One contractor told me that I was his biggest source of jobs all year!”
Debra Cohen is President of Home Remedies of NY™, Inc. – a Homeowner Referral Network (HRN) which has served more than 500 residents of Nassau County, New York. Ms. Cohen is also author of a business manual entitled The Complete Guide To Owning And Operating A Successful Homeowner Referral Network which is sold individually or as part of an HRN Business Package. To date, Ms. Cohen has assisted more than 300 other entrepreneurs launch successful HRN’s all over the globe.
For more information about starting an HRN in your area, visit the HRN website by clicking here.
Note from Valerie: I used to have several stories up about people who decided to start their own home referral network businesses in their area and were so successful that they were able to quit their jobs in six months. But Deb asked me to take them down. Why? These new business owners were getting bombarded with phone calls from Changing Course visitors wanting to hear more about their stories. So, if you want to hear about real people turned their dream into reality, ask Deb. She’ll be more than happy to share the good news!”
I decided to take the Work @ What You Love Workshop and also work one-on-one with Valerie. The workshop explored so many unusual and unexpected solutions to my specific questions. I made so many new connections to what clearly works for me in crea...