Celebrating 20 years!

Celebrating 20 years!

This summer marks the 20th anniversary of my Homeowner Referral Network (HRN) business. 20 years! It’s hard to believe. So much has changed since 1996. Back then, I worked from an old farm table in my basement with my two daughters at my feet. I purchased my first computer with a $5000 loan from my husband’s retirement savings plan and I didn’t have a website because the internet didn’t even exist back then! I started with just 5 contractors in my network—a pest control specialist, painter, handyman, floor refinisher and a plumber–and printed my direct mail cards to homeowners on a refurbished printer. My first commission check was a whopping $30! Once my business became profitable, I decided to give myself a gift and hired a few of the incredible contractors in my network to renovate our front porch and convert it into my home office: This is a clip of the first news article that was written about my business in 1997 in a local newspaper. After this article, my phone didn’t stop ringing with calls from contractors, homeowners and other entrepreneurs who were all interested in my business:   By year two, my income had almost doubled and gained the attention of homeowners and contractors nationwide, not to mention the media: Now, 20 years later, I have worked with almost 100 contractors and am proud to say that 80% of the ones who first started with me are still in my network (including the contractor who paid me my first $30 commission)! I still work alone but am now connected with 300 other incredible business owners who... read more
Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Father’s Day!

My father was my role model, mentor and best friend for 47 years.  I credit his sage advice for many of the blessings in my life including a happy marriage, wonderful children and yes, my successful business. I learned some of the most important lessons from my father just by watching how he lived his own life. He was on his own from the age of 13 and his life experience made him resourceful, street smart and self-sufficient. Sadly, my father passed away 2 ½ years ago, and, as anyone who has lost a parent knows, the loss is unimaginable. Over the years as my father grew older, his lessons became even more valuable to me because I knew that my time with him was limited. His mind remained sharp but it was clear to him (and to me) that his body wasn’t as strong as it used to be and safety was becoming an issue. He was living alone in a house in Florida and I spent many sleepless nights worrying about potential hazards, accidents, etc. My father wasn’t one to ask for help so, on every birthday and holiday, I gave him a gift that would make his life more manageable-an automatic garage door opener, carts to wheel out his recyclables, new appliances, shower grab bars, large print books and eventually an aide to stay with him on the weekends. He was proud and accepted my gifts with humility because I think he knew they would help him remain in the home he loved for as long as possible which thankfully, he did. As I prepare to muddle... read more
How long will it take for my HRN business to turn a profit?

How long will it take for my HRN business to turn a profit?

It makes sense that this is one the questions most frequently asked by new Homeowner Referral Network (HRN) business owners. After all, you want to launch a home-based business for flexibility and independence but ultimately, the goal is to generate more income for your family or possibly transition out of a full time job. The short answer is that most new HRN business owners turn a profit within the first 6 months of operation. That’s pretty appealing since most new businesses can take up to 3 years to turn a profit! The reason HRN owners are able to make money so soon is that the start-up expenses to launch a contractor referral business are minimal. To give you an idea, I’ve outlined the major expenses below:* Computer Printer Fax and/or Scanner Telephone Line Answering Machine/Service Direct Mail Printing Mailing List Subscription (1 year) Promotional items Postage Fees for Establishing Legal Structure The expenses listed above will vary based on a few factors. For example, fees to set up a legal structure (LLC, Corporation or Sole Proprietorship) are different from state-to-state, you may currently have an office set up in your home, outsourcing printing or doing it in-house, etc. Each start-up is different but the average HRN business owner can launch with a budget of approximately $750 to start over the first 3 months. And, the monthly operating costs for an HRN business are minimal as well. This is a word-of-mouth business that doesn’t require expensive advertising, there’s no merchandise or production costs and best of all, operating a business from home can be tax deductible! Below are few of the... read more
7 (Simple!) Steps to Reduce Household Expenses and Afford to Work From Home

7 (Simple!) Steps to Reduce Household Expenses and Afford to Work From Home

If you think you can’t afford to quit your day job or don’t have the funds to launch a home based business, think again. It may seem like finding the money to start a business of your own is impossible but, if you take a minute to break down your finances (and are willing to cut back a little) launching a home based business might not necessarily be out of your reach. 1. Mortgage: With interest rates so low, it may be time to refinance your mortgage. A lower interest rate could save you several hundred dollars each month. 2. Tax Deductions: Did you know that a portion of your home’s expenses are tax deductible if you’re operating a business from home? 3. Car: If you decide to work from home, you may be able to live with one car which is a significant savings on not only your monthly car payment but gas and insurance. 4. Childcare: Full time childcare may not be necessary if one parent is working from home. 5. Tax Bracket: If you’re a two income family and reduce to one income, your tax bracket may be lowered significantly which translates to more take home pay. 6. Commuting: If you work outside of the home and take public transportation to work every day, take into account how much money you currently spend on your monthly commute. 7. Daily Expenses: Many minor expenses like a work wardrobe, dry cleaning and dining out will be significantly reduced when you work from home which will save several hundred (if not thousand) dollars each month. Launching a business takes... read more
7 Signs That a Home Improvement Contractor Isn’t Reputable!

7 Signs That a Home Improvement Contractor Isn’t Reputable!

After years of saving and planning, you’re finally ready to renovate or build the master bath, kitchen or house of your dreams! But, all of the excitement (not to mention the money you saved) will go right out the (newly installed!) windows if you don’t research and vet the contractor you hire for the job carefully. Screening a home improvement contractor is a lengthy process but below are a few tell tale signs that a contractor you’re interviewing may not be the right guy for the job: 1. You can’t verify the name, address, telephone number or credentials of the remodeler. 2. They’re pressuring you to sign a contract. 3. They knock on your door unsolicited and say that they are doing work in the neighborhood. 4. No references are furnished. 5. You’re unable to verify their license or insurance information or it’s expired. 6. They ask you to pay for the entire job in advance. 7. Your questions are not answered to your satisfaction or you’re given vague answers.... read more
Spot Pyramid Schemes Before You Sign Up

Spot Pyramid Schemes Before You Sign Up

  If you’ve ever been told that you could make easy money and it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Pyramid schemes often sound like enticing business deals, but fraudsters may use this “business model” – to take advantage of you. Before you invest your time and money, it’s important to ask good questions and do some research on the company. Here are some typical characteristics of a pyramid scheme: Emphasis on recruiting No genuine product or service is sold Promises of high returns in a short period of time Easy money or “passive income” (money you earn without doing anything) No demonstrated revenue from retail sales Find more information on identifying pyramid schemes and how to protect yourself at investor.gov. This information is also available in... read more
A Good Man (Contractor!) Isn’t Hard To Find

A Good Man (Contractor!) Isn’t Hard To Find

After 19 years of operating my Homeowner Referral Network (HRN) business, I (humbly) consider myself an expert on the art of finding a good contractor. The number one complaint I hear from homeowners nationwide is that a “good contractor is hard to find”. Believe it or not, reliable contractors do exist–it’s simply a matter of knowing where to find them and, more importantly, how to screen them.  Whether you’re planning a large home improvement project or need to hire subcontractors to handle small repairs around your home, below are a few strategies to help you find a contractor you can trust. Where to find them? When looking for a contractor, many homeowners ask their friends and family for recommendations but in my experience, getting a contractor referral from another tradesperson is far more reliable. While your friend may have been satisfied with a contractor he/she used once or twice, their project may be very different from yours. Trades people (i.e. contractors, painters, plumbers) deal with other contractors repeatedly, over a long period of time and in a variety of projects. In my opinion they are therefore in a better position to offer a contractor referral. And, if a recommended contractor tells you that he’s too busy to take your job, ask him to refer you to one of his colleagues who may be suitable. How to screen them? Once you’ve found a potential contractor for your job, ask the contractor for the names and phone numbers of three to five customers for whom he has completed a similar project in the past two years. This will make it more difficult... read more
Will An HRN® Work In My Area?

Will An HRN® Work In My Area?

How do I know that a contractor referral business will work in my area? That’s one of the first questions people ask me when they’re considering the launch of an HRN®. The truth is that there is a universal need for the services provided by an HRN, but, if you want some reassurance, here are a few indicators that an HRN will do well in your community: 1. Dual Income Families. After working a 40+ hour work week, driving kids to afterschool activities, etc. most busy homeowners don’t have the time to call around looking for a reliable painter, plumber, general contractor, etc. 2. Aging Homes. Homes need to be maintained and updated. If you live in an area with homes or developments that were built in the late 1990’s, chances are they are in need of repair or upgrades. 3. Vacation Properties. Absentee owners of vacation properties need someone they can trust to find the most reputable contractors to care for their properties in the off season. 4. Growing Senior Community. Seniors, more than any other market segment, need to be sure that they can trust the contractors they hire and HRN owners are positioned with a unique business model to serve this growing need. 5. Commercial Real Estate. HRN owners refer commercial contractors as well. Whether it’s paving a parking lot, replacing a roof or cleaning services, building owners are also looking for the best contractor at the best price. If your area has at least one of the five demographics listed above, chances are a contractor referral business will do very well in your... read more