A Niche Market: Napa Valley Home Concierge
Napa is a beloved home to many and a fantastic place to own a vacation home. According to the US Census about 60% of housing is owner-occupied in Napa County. A portion of the remaining 40% reflects a niche market known as absentee homeowners. There are many property managers in the valley who preserve these estates while owners are away on business or living in their primary residence elsewhere.
“There have been vacation homes in Napa for many years. Over the last ten years, the number has grown substantially. When you drive up and down the Valley, you notice gated drives along Silverado Trail and Highway 29, but there are also so many estates nestled into the hills and so many other roads. Napa is such a desirable place to own a second home,” stated Cherie Knox of Cherie Knox Home Concierge Services. These homeowners love the valley and all it has to offer as much as local residents do.
After leaving her CEO position of 30+ years, at a local credit union in 2015, Knox found herself over-qualified for many jobs and began thinking about a shift in her career. She discovered that her experience in a service industry, her financial background, her relationshiops with local businesses, and her own home ownership all leant itself well to this line of work.
“I am thankful to Scot Sumner, NV Homeowners Concierge, for helping me to reinvent myself in this new career that I love so much. He tutored me for 9 months and I’m deeply grateful for that experience. He has several clients; and I realized that I wanted to run a smaller business. I have a small number of clients. I love taking care of these gorgeous homes, getting to know my clients and their particular needs, and taking care of these beautiful.”
A great deal of trust is placed in the people who manage these estates and there are many of us “It is important to gain our clients’ trust and demonstrate our intention to truly care for their home in their absence. A rare mistake? Okay. But if one continues to make mistakes, you would lose credibility quickly. “For me, it’s critical to build and maintain that trust and consistently demonstrate the value that my services bring to my clients,” stated Knox.
One of her greatest challenges was working to resolve a major gas leak, working closely with Thomas Thornley Associates and TriMyc Mechanical Inc., “I coordinated a repair which was complicated and extensive and saw it through until it was safely resolved.” A favorite compliment? “Cherie, you are always 12 steps ahead of us in addressing issues and concerns and we appreciate that you bring trusted service providers to us.” That recognition, says Knox, is priceless.”
One of the bonuses of her career is, “being out in nature and seeing so much wildlife, [I see] deer, fox, coyote, jack-rabbits, rattle snakes and the rare mountain lion - experiences that I cherish.”
It’s not all glory, Knox noted, “I do weekly property walks and home inspections. If the family is gone for several months out of the year, I’m flushing toilets, running dishwashers, checking sump pumps and water filtration systems. I’ve helped a client create a semi-formal sit-down dinner for a daughter’s 21st birthday,” and the next day, “I’ve used the pool net to get dead mice out of their pool.” Her services truly run the gamut.
Knox takes pride in her new career, “I like creating that wow factor. I am a respectful observer of their lives and likes, so I may stock the fridge with waters and organic fruits they like; or I might leave the latest book of their favorite author. Each client is so different. So I’m uber pleased when they take delight in these simple gestures. Prior to their arrival, I turn on heat or A/C, have the fireplace ready to light, turn music on, open curtains, leave lights on, and turn the pool/spa heat on. Beyond that, I may leave a box of Venezuelan salted chocolates or freshly picked flowers from their own gardens or something to nosh on when they arrive-a homemade quiche and fresh salad, or baked lasagna, or bread, cheese and charcuterie and a bottle of wine. In winter, I’ll leave a pot of soup to warm on the stove. Did I mention I love to cook?”
One of the most important aspects of my business is confidentiality. “I don’t share information. I don’t talk about my clients to other people. Whether they have celebrity status or not, most ask us to sign a confidentiality agreement. It’s very important to me to protect my clients’ privacy. As one might imagine, friends are eager to pry stories out of me. And that’s simply not going to happen.”
“I would like to add a few more clients, as long as I can ensure not compromising my level of service excellence to any of them. The business I have now works for me. It allows me to spend more time with my family and that’s a big priority. I’m also writing more and doing more photography. I’m more serious and committed to my writing--slice of life short stories that are loosely based on my life; and personal experiences.”
“I feel pretty blessed in this new role in my life!”