Possibility of a local concierge service

Hello everyone,

My name is PC and I am here to seek some feedback on a potential business plan. I’d really appreciate it if you guys could help.

Let me tell you guys a little more about myself: I am a Taiwanese woman who grew up in Taiwan and spent about 10 years in London, UK. I met my French husband in England, got married there, and now we have moved to Taiwan to start our new life here. In helping him to settle in an unfamiliar country, I realized how it could sometimes be difficult to get around and not knowing what to do and who to ask for help.

I am an anthropologist and I love learning about different cultures and life styles. I thrive on the unknown, even though it is at times really scary to go to a country you don’t know too much about except from books and the internet. It didn’t take me too much effort to get used to life in foreign countries, however I do understand how stressful it can be if you don’t know the local language and culture. My husband currently only buys food from convenience stores, because he can just pick up stuff and pay at the till using his Easy Card. No verbal communication needed (He does say ‘thank you’ in Mandarin though). It’s hard for him, but we are working to make his life in Taiwan easier by day.

So here’s my idea of making something that I want to do into a potential business: I want to help anyone who needs assistance to make their life easier, less stressful when they just move to Taiwan. Services may include finding a flat, getting furniture, dealing with the government/local authority, making applications, to name just a few. The rates will depend on the task.

I think I am pretty good at paper work, and I have a good eye for detail. I like to make plans and instructions so that everything is clear and easy to understand.

The reason why I want to call this a ‘local concierge service’ is that I know there are a lot of things one may need help when they just arrive in a new country. Sometimes the help you need is so small you don’t know whom to ask, or you don’t want to bother your friends/acquaintances just for things like grocery shopping. It’s like the concierge service in a hotel, they receive all kinds of questions and requests, and they will do their best to help (at least they are supposed to). Also, sometimes you’d pay someone to do something you can’t be arsed to do, like figuring out mind-numbing bureaucratic process and applications.

Thanks for reading this post, and if you could let me know what you think, both positive and negative feedbacks are welcome. Cheers!

I think it’s great that you see this as an issue. You very often see people getting screwed over by landlords or buxiban bosses because of cultural gaps or just out right bullying. Believe me, I have considered doing something similar, but at the end of the day, was not able to put a price tag on such services.

I could see a very small demand for this, but to keep in mind, the majority of people moving to Taiwan are students studying mandarin, those coming to teach English, foreign born Taiwanese, foreign spouses and foreign white collar working managers getting transferred over by their company.

Your main demand may be students and English teachers since the foreign born Taiwanese kids will have family and expats will have their company to handle everything under the sun. Foreign spouses, like your husband, have their SO’s to help with the process. I know I wouldn’t pay for your services if the gf had experience living here. Same if she was moving to the states with me, she’d ask me questions, why spend money on asking someone else?

So, I’ll focus on the students and English teachers whom are already on a pretty tight budget. From the people I’ve met through the forums and through friends, lots of them have saved money from their 9-5 job at home to move here and start a new chapter in their life. On top of the necessities for them to survive for the first few weeks here, not sure they would be willing to pay an extra fee for someone to handle all the “ma fan” things.

Hope the above was helpful. Good luck!

Although I’ve never been to Taiwan, I think you’re onto something. There’s a gap in the market that you as a Taiwanese woman who speaks fluent Engliah could fill very well. I could see you doing very well for yourself doing this. I can’t offer any advice but good luck!

I think a lot of people have had this idea before it’s not new.

You basically have two markets here for such a service.

One market is English teachers and Chinese students neither of which have money to pay for such a service. Plus they have other connections through schools and friends to get the required help.

The second market is expats who are coming here to work for a company. Most of them will have company provided services so they don’t really need an additional service.

There could be such a service for all these types of markets but it would need to be easily accessible and easy to use to everyone. Kind of like foodpanda.com or something. But they are not really huge amount of people moving into Taiwan. You could probably go over better somewhere like Shanghai or other countries and cities that have an large foreigner influx and turnover.

If you could provide a service where someone could fill out a form and pay on the Internet or call you and pay easily maybe at their local 7-Eleven or transfer into your account, then you would probably get some customers.

Over time you would build up a reputation and name recognition and it could survive.

That’s just my one opinion.

Good luck and go for it!

It sounds like what we do here, but with more expertise and less, um, interweb issues.

If we did it, it would be called Forumosa Premium… or Forumocierge

Best of luck! :four_leaf_clover:

Thank you all so much for your valuable insights and encouragement. I think by identifying potential clients (taking into account their needs and personal finance) is a great way to assess the viability of the business.

I do want to start doing it, perhaps for free or a very small fee (like a bubble tea), since I can’t possibly claim to be professional now. I’d like to see it as offering help to a friend, and I can get experience by doing it too.

However, just like yyy says, it is like what Forumosa does, people with far more experience are here to help. What can I do to offer something that Forumosa can’t? I need to think about this, more comments are welcome.

tango42 offers another a good idea, maybe by establishing a website with a list of service, price list and easy way to pay, I can start small.

Dude, if I’m going to have to start going out to people’s houses to annoy them in person, I’m going to need a raise.

@pcwu, good luck with your enterprise, you sound like a nice person. Everyone’s comments here are valid, they’re definitely worth considering.

Either way, welcome to the end of the road.

Considering your salary is $0, I’m sure I can double it without even getting permission. :slight_smile:

Actually, I do something like this on a somewhat regular basis, here through the forums.

I moderate the cycling forum and I get a lot of members from overseas inquiring about where to get rentals, cycling routes and/or joining me for a ride.

I was contemplating charging people a fee for providing the info, but like I said in my previous post, I just couldn’t put a price on it. I perfectly fine with seeing how happy and appreciative they were. Not to brag, but I’ve had a few members tell me some of the bike rides I bring them on have been on their top 10 lists of rides they’ve ever done.

At the end of the day, I’m just bringing a guest along to one of my hobbies. So, I’m not really doing too much extra.

To be dead honest, having them thank me and tell me that it was one of the best experiences they’ve ever had on a bike, is worth no price tag to me.

That sounds a bit extravagant. I think a 20% raise would be more than adequate.

Guys, doubling $0 is still $0. :rofl:

Shh, don’t tell the raccoon!

I think it is a great idea. I also charged for my “local expertise”… in magazines and deliveries and/or coffee/snacks. I find people are willing to pay and they value your time more as an exchange.

For exmaple, people at teh embassies or trade offices ofter need to book services or buy stuff, and the already overworked local asssitants or secretaries may not know where to buy foreign stuff in Taiwan. they mayu not know how to organiza thsi or that activity as per their bosses expectations. This is another example where a knowledgeable concierge service helps.

You do need to do a lot of networking, though.