My Girl Friday Succeeds By Using Advice From SCORE Mentor
It was “one of those days” for Cincinnati pharmaceutical sales representative Julie Hagenmaier in 1999. With her husband away on business and some last-minute headaches at work, everything was running late. By the time she got her two-year-old daughter home from day care, the only supper she could scrounge up was peas and popcorn.
Julie decided that the time had come to get help with her daily chores. A full-time nanny was out of the question, yet the kind of occasional assistance she could afford was not available on a part-time basis. The more Julie thought about it, the more she realized that other families faced the same dilemma. Perhaps instead of looking for help, she should be the one to provide it. That led to Julie’s idea for My Girl Friday, a personal concierge service.
Indeed, there are few things My Girl Friday cannot do for busy families. By sourcing vendors and employees who have time to spare, Julie’s business offers services such maid service, lawn and pet care, catering, deliveries, setting up or taking down the Christmas tree, children’s birthday planning and taking the car for repairs. By the end of her first year, Julie had expanded My Girl Friday to serve local corporations with office management, computer training and food deliveries.
With companies helping promote her services, Julie was able to keep her marketing budget low.
She also followed Ruth’s suggestion to pitch her story to the press, which led to articles in the local newspaper and Woman’s World magazine.
With My Girl Friday a local success, Julie began looking for ways to take the business to the national level. She hosted a lunch/brainstorming session for several business executives, which generated a number of great ideas, including using My Girl Friday’s expertise in travel planning and ancillary services to provide personal services via travel agents and the Internet. That led to several new ventures, the newest of which debuts this fall as Julie teams with Interactive Sites of Phoenix to collect local vendors of ancillary travel services that hotels can offer on their own Web sites.
Julie’s life is every bit as hectic as it was on that awful day in 1999. But like thousands of other harried families, businesses and travelers who count on My Girl Friday, she can manage the increasing demands of today’s busy world. And, her daughter’s dinners are a lot healthier too.
To get her business off the ground, Julie contacted the local chapter of SCORE and met with mentor Ruth van Gelder-Bochner, an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati and an advertising and marketing expert. “If it wasn’t for Ruth, I’m not sure I would have made the jump to go out on my own,” Julie says. “We totally connected. She gave me ideas on generating publicity—what to do and how to do it.
Ruth also coined the company’s name, which originated in the 1950s when businessmen had women assistants ran errands for. “We brought the ‘Girl Friday’ up to date,” Julie says. “Now she’s educated and can do anything for you.”
Julie knows that Ruth van Gelder-Bochner is always available to provide advice and support. “Ruth has been both cheerleader and guardian angel, providing confidence and encouragement when I needed it,” Julie says.
Julie says, “Without SCORE, the road would not have been as easily paved. They paired me with the perfect mentor.”