Work-at-Home Mom Recruits 85 Outside Agents through Web Site
At 28, Jennifer Dugan has been a Travel Agent for 9 years. The owner of Dugans Travels, she started her home-based agency in 1997 when she had her first child. Her need to be at home with him and still have an income made her take a leap into owning her own business. Her desire to help others become work-at-home agents coupled with her desire to make her agency a strong force in the industry has paid off. She now has over 85 agents working with her agency from their homes.
Specializes in Family Vacations
Los Alamos, New Mexico
How did you come to start your own agency?
I was like many other women in the business world. I got up, went to work very early, and got home late. I had just enough time to get something to eat and go to bed. When I found out I was pregnant, it was one of the best days of my life. I also realized that if I continued to live the way I was living, I would never see my baby.
I started taking steps to work at home. I tried working with 3 different host agencies and did not have great experiences with them. However, I did start building my customer base and decided to branch out own my own. I worked hard to market my agency. People started to know who I was and my business started taking off. I wanted to be at home with my children and I knew the only way to do it was to contribute financially to my family. It has been a difficult road, but I'm accomplishing what I set out to do.
How do you advertise or promote your Agency?
I started by letting my contacts know about my business. Then I made brochures for my agency. I began to take them everywhere with me (which wasn't too hard since I had to carry around that big diaper bag anyway!). I left them at the doctor's office when I took my son in for check ups. I left them at the library when we went in for story time.
The local paper decided to do an article on my home Travel Agency. The morning the article came out, the phone started ringing. People were so excited that I was a stay at home mom trying to make a business succeed. I booked a cruise the very next day.
I participate in websites by being their travel expert and in turn my name and a link to my web site was displayed. I began to let others know about me and started writing articles on travel for family-oriented websites and work at home mom sites.
Why did you decide to build a web site?
I believe a web site is a necessity. I do a lot of work online and wanted my web site to be a tool that would offer more information to customers on my agency and my services as well as be able to communicate my specialty in family travel. I also knew that I needed a really easy way to keep it updated, since my time is always at such a premium. I started using OnlineAgency when the company was in its very early stages. As a company that specializes in travel, I wanted to work with a company who would understand what I, as a Travel Agent, needed for my site.
Why did you decide to become a host agency?
In 1999, as a result of the success that I was having, I started getting emails from women wanting to know how they could do what I was doing. It was so hard, because I had experience as a Travel Agent and had already put the "start-up" years behind me. I didn't know what to suggest to those without experience.
Then a light bulb went off over my head. I realized I could help these women while at the same time growing my business in a different direction. I began to take on agents as independent contractors from all over the U.S. I could help them get into the travel business and they would have me as a guide. I train those without experience and have found they can become wonderful agents. Each of my agents' individual sales would help Dugans Travels' sales. It's a win/win situation. Today, we have over 85 agents who work with the agency and I plan to continue to grow the business.
What are some of the greatest successes you have had with your web site?
My website helps me in two ways. One, I do a lot of agent recruiting through my website. Two, I also offer my site as a resource to my clients. The site has done work for me while I was sleeping! Using OnlineAgency, the site automatically gets updated with my specials and I really like that.
Once, I had a client who contacted me about a trip for her family. During her research, she had also contacted several other companies. She ended up choosing us because she felt my website showed the kind of person I am. I like the fact that my web site helps me successfully communicate to my clients that they're working with a real person who understands about being a parent and needing to travel. My tagline sums up what my philosophy is all about: "Let us do the work for you. If you are a parent, you already have enough to do!"
How do you define success as it relates to your business?
I am 28 years old and I feel Dugans Travels is on its way to becoming a great agency. If can help one person make their dreams of becoming a travel agent a reality, then I feel have accomplished so much. I want my agents to succeed. I help others and in turn they help me. I used to tell myself that if I ever owned my own agency, I was going to make it a great agency to work with. Each day, I feel I'm getting closer to making it the best it can be. I never expected how much impact it would have on so many people, but I am so proud that it has.
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