Concierge Ninja. What the Client Wants, the Client Gets!
How would you like someone to take care of all of your errands from booking flights to picking up your dry cleaning? How would you like someone to do your shopping and organise your parties? Sound good? Then you need Concierge Ninja. Amanda Crossley founded the company just over two years ago, utilising the organisational and time management skills that she acquired while serving in the Royal Navy. Since founding Concierge Ninja, Amanda has received several awards for her service, most recently winning Best Luxury Concierge Service North West 2019. Amanda kindly agreed to talk to us about the origins of her business and what she has planned for the future.
Can you tell us about Concierge Ninja? Where did the idea come from?
After leaving the military in 2012, I went from being active everyday (not just physically but mentally) to looking after my baby. Don't get me wrong that was mentally draining enough but I wasn't happy sitting indoors not doing anything. I knew that my baby was going to get older and I still wouldn't have anything to do, so I decided to take action.
Me and my mum went to watch Mrs Brown's Boys live in Manchester and during the break I said to her "wouldn't it be amazing to make this many people so happy just by putting on an event", she said "do it then". She planted the seed in my mind. When I went home I started studying events management. While my daughter slept I studied. Then I decided that since I needed to work from home for a while until my then daughter(s) started primary school, I had no other option but to start my own business. Just the thought of it made me feel super excited for the future.
However, while conducting my market research, I quickly found that getting into the events industry was extremely difficult. Not only that but the word Concierge kept popping up. I had no idea what it was at first. So I read news articles, researched different personal concierge's around the world, read books on the industry, and my eyes widen to the fact that as a busy professional you could pay someone to help you with your home life. Someone reliable to take care of your personal tasks, errands, your personal diary!! What an amazing idea! I knew instantly this is what I wanted to do. I was hooked by the idea of saving people time while they worked.
That sounds like a good idea to us. What exactly does a personal conceierge do?
I always tell my clients that their only limit is their imagination, it just has to be legal! I specialise in personal diary management (or luxury lifestyle management) I take a hold of my clients personal diary (their home life) and erase any tasks, errands, appointments that can be erased! I manage their personal lives so rigidly that I end up preempting what is happening in their lives and take care of it before they've even had the chance to think about it.
Don't get me wrong there is a luxury side to it, I do personal shopping, I can get anyone whatever they want, need or desire, no matter where it is located in the world! I work alongside an independent travel consultant to organise all of their holiday needs, I can get them access to VIP events. I don't say no to a request. What the client wants, the client gets, no matter how far out of this world it seems!
How has the business grown since you launched?
I have been up and serving clients for 26 months now and I have won 3 awards in that time:
Best Personal Assistant Service - Lancashire 2018
Highly Commended Professional Service Award 2019
and most recently
Best Luxury Concierge Service North West 2019
I am hoping to get staff on-board within the next 18 months and then expand further a field.
What obstacles have you encountered so far? How did you overcome them?
The main obstacles I've encountered are the same as any new business. Reaching my target market has been challenging! They are all so busy working that they don't have the time to see that my services are there to help them. However all my clients come through from word of mouth so that is amazing, and with the growth I've had already, I'm extremely excited for what the future holds for Concierge Ninja.
So you're looking for busy and successful people who are happy to spend money in return for saving time. What strategies have you developed for finding these clients?
I stalk the internet for events that I feel my ideal clients would go to and make sure I put myself in front of their faces. I make it my business to make sure people are aware I'm here and available. You can only do that by being in front of them constantly. If you're not in their faces, you will soon get forgotten and it's amazing how quick that can happen. I've seen it happen with many businesses. With how intimate my services are, I have to build that relationship up with each client before I work with them. It gives me the opportunity to find out a bit more about them too! Because if we don't get along right from the word go it's never going to work.
Social media has been amazing at being able to be in peoples faces and I keep in touch with my business friends through there. I often get tagged in posts to help people out. It's so heart warming that others think of me when they read a recommendation post.
To us, your job looks very difficult. Not only do you have to make sure your services are perfect, you also have to make sure everything goes right with the services that you use. If a restaurant hasn't reserved a table for your client or a limo fails to turn up, it reflects badly on you. How do you ensure that everything runs smoothly?
The same way I deal with my clients. I've spent a very long time building up relationships with businesses. I only use businesses who I know are reliable, trustworthy and can give me and my client the level of service that I expect (which is the same standard that I give). When I book a restaurant reservation hotel room, I don't go through the receptionist, I go through the boss of that department. These businesses know that I deal with High Net Worth clientele and these clients expect to get what they've asked for, they are VIP in my eyes and to the other businesses eyes too! They also know that because I'm an influencer in my industry that I will continue to use them time and time again, and use them as a recommendation to all of my clients. As long as the standard is maintained. Also I am quite harsh, if the service isn't to up to scratch, I'll go to someone else, because like you said, it reflects badly on me and my business.
I know that life happens though. The beauty of being a concierge and working with others who have the same mindset as yourself is that we work really well together. If a restaurant reservation has fallen through for some reason, we tweak the times ever so slightly, if a limo breaks down (because it would always show up :D) then there's a plan B in place. There's an amazing quote, "If plan A doesn't work there are 25 other letters of the alphabet, stay cool". The most important part is never letting the client know that there's an issue.
Where do you see Concierge Ninja in five years time?
In 5 years time, Concierge Ninja will have a HQ near Blackpool, with multiple staff and it will be franchised across the North East, Cumbria and further north. Possibly across to Ireland too.
What's been your favourite thing that's happened since you started Concierge Ninja?
Within the first year of starting I was attending black tie events, which I never thought in my wildest dreams I'd attend! But the best thing was, I attended an expo event here in Blackpool and I was taking to a lady on a stand about my business. Then this random guy came up to me and said "your Concierge Ninja? I've heard of you! Fantastic business idea" To know that someone I've never met has seen me and recognised my business is the best feeling in the world. It's reassuring that I'm doing something right.
Oh! And when I received a letter from Sir Andrew Parmley in London asking me to join the Blackpool's Born and Bred Ambassador Network. So now I am a part of a wonderful steering group of businesses who are trying to change the way that people view Blackpool.
If you could go back to when your first started your business, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
I received a lot of support from the beginning, I'm really fortunate that Blackpool Council give out a free service that help you from business plan writing and finances all the way to trading. My one piece of advice would be though, to stick with my original plan. I took on board a lot of people's opinions right at the beginning, but instead of keeping them as opinions I ended up pivoting my business to what they were saying. So ultimately I wasted time aiming at the wrong target market. I wanted to target business professionals but was advised against it as small business owners would benefit better. Which is true, they would benefit from my services, however they have the mindset of not being able to afford my services so never want to use me. Not only that, a lot of people wanted me to do just admin work for them. For those who know what a concierge is, they immediately understand the benefits, that's my target market.
Is there an another entrepreneur that you find inspiring?
I have a few people who I follow and keep an eye on.
Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Brad Burton - These have come from nothing and made it to the top. Their energy is phenomenal and I can't wait to join them at the top of the game.
Can you tell us about your life as a Concierge Ninja? Is it all private jets and VIP parties?
It is for the clients! :D I have been to a few events one after another and I'm just not young enough anymore to be able to keep up! I'm far happier organising all of it and seeing how happy the clients are. That's where I get my satisfaction from.
When I'm not being a concierge (which is mainly when I'm sleeping haha) I'm a single parent, a school governor, an ambassador for Blackpool and I do talks at events to inspire others to go for their dreams and to never give up. I'm constantly giving back to others because I'm so grateful for all the support I've received and to all the business who have supported me and continue to support me. I love giving back to the community.
You were in the Navy before starting your own business. How do the two compare? Which do you prefer?
When I joined the Navy, I was in a place in my life where I wasn't happy. I had a job that wasn't satisfying and I didn't feel like I was worth anything which was very sad. Joining the military gave me a sense of belonging, like I mattered and that I was a part of something special. And I was! If I could turn back time, I still would of joined the Navy. It's given me the mindset I need to push myself further, to have an attitude that means I never give up and it brought me out of myself. It made me a completely different person. I am extremely proud to be a veteran, to have served with all of my military brothers and sisters. That bond never breaks, I can walk down the street and get talking to a fellow veteran and even if I don't know him/her we will hit it off straight away and that family bond is instantly there. Throughout training we've been taught to work together as a team and have each others back, potentially give your life for the person next to you. That's what makes the bond so strong. A lot of people who I work with now in business are veterans, I didn't choose them because they are veterans. we work so well together because we have the same mindset.
Being a concierge, I'm living my dream. My heart strings will always pull towards the forces, but I wouldn't give Concierge Ninja up for anything else. I feel so comfortable in this industry and I feel like I'm becoming complete as a person. I have two lovely girls who depend on me and now I get to spend as much time with them as I want, they are watching me build my business and they are super proud of me. They go around school telling their friends that I'm a Ninja and they are learning to become Ninja's. I do hope they join the business :)
It's great that you are already inspiring the next generation of Ninjas! We just have one last question....is it OK to call you anytime we want some sold out tickets?
*rolls eyes* go on then! ;)