Ever wished you could be in two places at a time?
Scelo Nciki, who launched his concierge company, Errandsmaster, just over a year ago, has turned one of the most irritating consequences of being well and truly trapped in the rat race into a win-win business opportunity.
“My business is founded on the premise that people have a lot of balls in the air and that 24 hours is not enough. We exist to make peoples’ lives easy. A well-planned day can just spin out of control. Basically, we are offering peace of mind,” he explains.
Nciki stepped back and researched the hum drum and mundane – business style. He came up with four different services.
His retail service covers everything from grocery shopping to buying and delivering event tickets to returning garments to stores. “We’ll pay your bills, purchase your office requirements, stand in queues for you and a whole lot more in between,” he says.
His second range of services – which he terms shuttling – can cover anything from taking children to school or extra mural events (the biggest segment of his business so far), to arranging for and delivering vehicles to be serviced to dropping and collecting people at malls for lunch hour shopping expeditions.
That means no lunch hour traffic jams, searching for parking, circling the block …
Errandsmaster’s “out of town” service allows life to go on as normal when clients are away – delivering documents, picking up post, paying accounts and pretty much anything else that is planned or unplanned. Then there’s the converse – those visiting Durban can rely on someone to pick up takeaways, fill a shopping list, drop a client off for dinner or movies. No more pleading for help at hotel reception desks or calling and waiting for taxis.
Errandsmaster’s delivery service – and area which Nciki is out to grow – offers a same day service within the Durban / Pietermaritzburg area and is the perfect way to drop off completed tender documents on deadline, for example.
He is also prepared to package all four into one to provide a full concierge service for large corporates during important periods such as conferences or on an on-going, on-call basis.
“It’s been exciting but it has been tough. It’s a passion. It’s my own child and I don’t think of anything else but how to grow it,” he says of both the process of starting up and growing his business.
As with most entrepreneurial ventures, this fledgling enterprise is also nothing like what Nciki set out to do. A chemical engineer by training, he was working for FMCG giant Unilever when realised that time was just too tight to get the most basic things done and began wondering how to find someone to do them on his behalf.
Then he started questioning why that someone couldn’t be him. “I had a car and decided to advertise my services. I soon realised that this was a good business to get into as I did not need a lot of assets to begin with and it is not capital intensive. Because payment is as good as immediate, cash flow is also manageable,” he says.
While he can now chat easily about those business fundamentals, it took a “finance for non-financial managers” course run by Shanduka Black Umbrellas to fill in the gaps. Once he’d set up an office at the SmartXchange, it was a case of foot on the gas and go.
In a short space of time, he has added both individual and corporate clients to his customer list, grown his small fleet of branded vehicles and taken on drivers and assistants.
He ends buy saying that his company’s pay off line couldn’t put the business’s service offering any better. “We own your errands. You own your time!”