When Jennifer Lyons moved to Scottsdale two years ago, she observed one highly sought-after need among her neighbors, especially among those who owned second homes: personalized, reliable services, like home watching and pet sitting.
“The homes around me were vacant because they were second homes, and I just thought, ‘Who’s watching their home? What if there’s a leak?’” Lyons said. “I thought, ‘That could be a business.’”
And a business it became – in the midst of the pandemic, no less.
Lyons launched Always Home last month and already is attracting clients.
“I realize this is not the perfect time to launch a new business due to COVID and the challenges it continues to present all of us. But if not now, when?” Lyons said.
Always Home is an all-encompassing concierge resource that provides both full- and part-time northern Scottsdale residents a “first-class service” that aims to maintain and protect a home while providing services that include running errands, planning parties, travel booking and recommendations of Scottsdale-area businesses.
“All errands and any drop-offs follow COVID protocols,” Lyons wrote on her website. “I always wear a mask, car is wiped down several times a day, and social distancing is followed.”
These concierge services make Lyons believe will draw clients.
“So many people don’t want to leave their homes during COVID,” Lyons said. “So, if they are looking for somebody to pick up their groceries for them or take them to a doctor’s appointment or watch or walk their dogs, I think that those are going to be a lot of the services that people might be looking for.”
Currently, Lyons has three clients, one of whom will be away from their northern Scottsdale home for three years.
As part of the personalized home-watch service, Lyons performs thorough exterior and interior checks on the house, works with pool service and/or landscapers, waters houseplants, ensure the cars are safe, checks the mail and much more.
Pictures are sent to the homeowner after each visit, which can take place weekly, bi-weekly or monthly, along with a checklist of completed duties.
“They’ve just said that it’s so nice to have somebody that they trust watching their home,” Lyons said of her client, who had to move out of the country for work.
Lyons’ neighbors consist of second-home homeowners originally from coastal and cooler states who stay here for the winter and leave in summer.
“I’m from Ohio, so that was not anything that I had ever experienced before,” Lyons said. “There are a lot of homes that are left vacant [in the summer].”
According to Rented.com’s fifth annual “100 Best Places to Buy a Vacation Rental” report, the Phoenix metropolitan area ranked No. 6, behind central Texas, the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee, the Poconos in Pennsylvania, the south Jersey Shore in New Jersey, and the Florida Panhandle at No. 1.
Scottsdale ranked No. 13 in “Business Insider” and Zillow’s most popular U.S. cities for vacation homes report last year stated that Scottsdale has more than 14,000 vacation homes, making up nearly 11 percent of the city’s total number of single-family residences.
While many vacation homeowners and snowbirds have yet to leave Scottsdale, Lyons anticipates increased demand in her service come spring and summer.
Always Home’s concierge services, however, will be more year-round, Lyons predicts.
Lyons performs most services personally and if she can’t, then one of her two other team members will.
“I want to make sure that the people that I bring on board also have that same background and the same wanting to offer red carpet service and wanting to be responsible and reliable and trustworthy. That is really what I’m looking to have stand out about Always Home,” Lyons said.
She takes pride in her list of qualified and vetted suppliers, as well as her pet- sitting service – something she has more than 20 years of experience providing as the previous owner of Doggie Day Care.
Lyons was also a marketing and facilities professional who traveled extensively and was frequently in need of home-watching and pet-sitting services.
“I got to experience the good – and the bad,” Lyons said. “When your home is an investment as much as your pets are, you need to have trust that everything is being cared for and loved as if you were there. I needed Always Home.”
Depending on the clients’ needs and the size of their home, Always Home can cost anywhere from $100 to $175 a month.
Always Home is also licensed, insured, background checked, and bonded.
“We are a registered LLC and carry extensive insurance of $2 million in general liability and $4 million aggregate. We are also covered to drive vehicles since we have clients that need their cars exercised,” the website states.