“The SBDC made me feel like I was not alone in starting this business; I had community and support which brought me encouragement and perspective. Senior Settlers succeeds because of [SBDC Advisor] John’s guidance and the SBDC.”
Senior Settlers is Marin’s only business affiliated with the National Association of Senior Move Managers professional trade group, and it adheres to a Code of Ethics that prioritizes the safety, privacy and wellbeing of the senior in transition. Moira Brennan, founder of Senior Settlers, puts her energy and focus on first making her employees happy because that translates into client satisfaction and referrals. Moira turned to the SBDC to help her with business operations and developing strategies to identify and reach new clients and partners.
Senior Settlers is a senior move management company that provides skilled downsizing, de-cluttering, and relocation assistance to Bay Area seniors. Marin’s residents are the oldest and most rapidly aging in the Bay Area: one in four Marin residents is 60 or older, and by 2030, that ratio will jump to one in three. Moving is tough at any age; for older adults, it can be overwhelming, or even detrimental to their health.
As senior move managers, Senior Settlers are specially trained to assist these older adults and their families with the organizational, physical, and emotional aspects of relocation or aging-in-place. Their expertise reduces clients’ stress and makes these transitions thoughtful and respectful.
Moira started Senior Settlers after years of non-profit work. She wanted to continue in service but knew that she needed to tighten her focus to the personal, individual level. She saw that the senior population represented a big market and offered opportunities to do well by doing good. However, Moira recognized that didn’t know anything about starting a business. Therefore, she took a few classes, conducted research in the community to learn how other similar business handled their operations and began to identify possible vendors and partners. Once she’d identified her niche in senior move management and formalized her idea, she sought out support from the Marin SBDC.
In Spring 2014, Moira started working with SBDC Advisor John DeGaetano on her business plan and financials. She learned to distinguish different revenue streams and which were more profitable, how to track operations, and what the breakeven was for running the business. John helped her set up and understand financial statements, which created the foundation for Moira to develop a business mindset (a shift from a non-profit background where she was willing to deeply discount or give away services for free). John’s coaching helped Moira get her first client, and he advised her on strategies to identify and reach clients and partners that could afford her fees, as well as on ways to best grow the business over time.
In such a high-touch business, employee satisfaction and retention are key to developing a reputation for competence and integrity. John has worked with Moira on HR issues, advising her on how to personalize incentives that keep employees happy and growing.
Moira’s advice to new business owners is to listen to your clients (know who they are, know who you are serving), keep a sense of humor (it has to be fun), never forget why you’re in business, and talk about your business to everyone (in other words don’t be afraid to sell).
- Started business
- Hired 3 people
- In 2015 exceed projections by 300%
- In 2016, profitability doubled