How to Start a Personal Grocery Shopping Business
Imagine this: It's 6:00 pm and Jane, a mother of three, is driving home, exhausted from a full day at the office. After picking up her children from the sitter, she remembers the pantry is empty, the refrigerator is barren, and they've already eaten out four times this week. Fearfully, Jane pulls into the grocery store parking lot and circles for five minutes trying to find a parking space. She drags the kids out of the car. As she walks up and down each crowded grocery aisle, her kids toss junk food into the cart left and right.
Jane doesn't have a list, so there's no rhyme or reason as to what she puts in the cart. Regardless, it fills up with food quickly, and just when it feels like she's approaching the finish line, Jane sees the long lines at the checkout. Thirty minutes and $300 later, she's loading the kids and the groceries into the car. When Jane and the kids finally get home, it's almost 9:00 pm, and she's so worn out that she throws in the towel and hits the speed dial for the local pizza joint.
This scenario may seem a bit exaggerated, but it highlights the reasons why most people view grocery shopping as a hated household chore. The lines are long, the parking lot is crowded, it takes forever, it's expensive, and it's just not a fun way to spend your precious free time. The stress created by a trip to the grocery store can be eliminated by hiring a personal grocery shopper. Personal grocery shoppers offer an invaluable service to people who are short on time.
If you are looking for a way to earn some extra money, personal grocery shopping might be a great option for you. Unlike other small business ventures, the start-up costs for this endeavor are minimal. The biggest investment required is your time. Personal grocery shopping can be a full time job or a supplement to current income. The earning potential for a personal grocery shopper really depends on the number of clients you serve and how much time you are willing to devote to the success and growth of the business. Fill the most orders you can in the least amount of time to optimize your earnings.
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To get your personal grocery shopping business up and running, you'll need customers. A good marketing plan is essential. Create attractive flyers that highlight the services you provide. Include information on your flyers about how orders can be placed, contact information, and fees. Make yourself available via both phone and email. Potential clients may have a stronger preference toward one channel of communication versus the other.
Be strategic about where you distribute flyers. Seek out neighborhoods where most families have two working parents. Find neighborhoods populated by senior citizens who may not be able to shop for themselves anymore. Post flyers on bulletin boards at libraries, community recreation centers, and public swimming pools. Meet with grocery store managers and ask if you can post flyers on bulletin boards in their stores. Develop a professional relationship with store managers. They may be willing to hand out flyers to customers in exchange for doing a large volume of shopping at their particular store.
Targeting women is a productive strategy, since the female in most households does the majority of the grocery shopping and meal preparation. Place flyers on cars in school parking lots, or other places that employ mostly women. Posting flyers at day care centers might be a worthwhile plan for marketing your services. Parents who use day care facilities usually work full time and are more likely to sign up for a grocery shopping service. Email a copy of your flyer to friends and family, and ask them to spread the word about your new business. Word of mouth can be a powerful marketing tool.
Marketing is really the only start-up cost, as long as you have a reliable vehicle that can accommodate a large number of groceries. If you don't already have one, invest in a large ice chest to keep food cold if you plan on delivering multiple orders in one trip.
Try to keep order placement simple. There are many possibilities for how orders can be placed. Telephone, email, and fax are all good options. A standardized grocery shopping list might be helpful once you establish a large number of customers. Arrange the list according to where items are in the store to make shopping time more efficient.
Fees for Service
Like order placement, there are many different ways to set up a fee structure. If you want to keep things simple, charge a flat rate for each trip. For example, you could advertise a $40 shopping fee, which includes two hours of shopping, delivery, and mileage (cost of groceries not included). The downside to charging this way is that it will not appeal to customers with small orders. No one is going to pay $40 to have $20 worth of groceries delivered.
Arranging your rates according to the size of the grocery order may draw in more customers. For instance, you could charge $20 for grocery orders totaling up to $150, $30 for grocery orders totaling between $150 and $300, and 15% of the total for orders over $300. Once again, these fees could include shopping, delivery, and mileage. Other possibilities include charging separately for mileage, an extra fee for picking up coupons before shopping, or additional fees for shopping at more than one store.
Once your business is soaring, offer referral bonuses and other incentives to keep your customers coming back. Send out a weekly newsletter with outstanding grocery deals for the current week. Include recipes that use items that are on sale. Most of all, remember that one of a kind customer service is the key to a successful personal shopping business.