- an ideal "work-from-home" solution

Meet Jill Barber

Jill BarberSome of the most successful HRN owners are people just like you. And, to help give you more insight into what it takes to launch and operate an HRN successfully, I’ve interviewed my colleague (and friend), Jill Barber. This July will mark Jill’s 5th year in business-- an important milestone for any small business owner.

Congratulations, Jill and best wishes for continued success!

1. What did you do before you launched your HRN?
Worked as a District Dangerous Goods/International Shipping Analyst at FedEx Express.

2. Why did you want to launch a business from home?
I didn't know that's what I wanted to do, but I was pregnant and got a very attractive volunteer severance package from FedEx, so I left.

3. What was the launch date) for your HRN?
July 2004

4. (If you don't mind) how old are you?

5. What attracted you about the HRN business?
I have a degree in Interior Design and wanted desperately to get back into housing in some way, shape or form. I looked at real estate, then realized I'd be working nights and weekends so that wasn't much better than my job at FedEx where I traveled a lot.

6. How did you know that an HRN would work in your area?
I didn't. After reading the material Deb provided, talking with her, and knowing that the Richmond area didn't have a service like this, I thought it was a risk worth taking.

7. How did you know that an HRN would be right for you personally? (Did you have an "AHA!" moment?)
I was already doing a VERY scaled down version of a referral service for contractors in my neighborhood and enjoyed it.

8. What was your first job?
A Drywall repair that paid a $26 commission....and I was thrilled to get it!

9. What types of services do you refer through your network?
Anything to do with inside or outside the home. Some of the fringe services I've referred include masonite siding claims, energy experts, home watching company for vacation, meeting plumbers, etc.

10. What is the biggest job you've referred?

11. What is the strangest referral request you've had?
Nothing too strange---yet!

12. When did your business break even? Turn a profit?
After the 1st year.

13. What has been the most difficult task involved in operating your HRN?
Dealing with the attrition in contractors and running the business with a child at home. What I thought would be part time until he was in school turned full time very quickly due to the success of the venture.

14. What has been the most enjoyable aspect of the business?
The empowerment you get from knowing you can do it. I would never had had the guts to "develop" the industry, untried like Deb did, but I will take a calculated risk.

15. What type of response have you received from homeowners about your services?
"Your service was DYNAMITE, Jill! Your follow-up is unbelievable, your level of attention is one that I aspire to in a customer service business, and I'll definitely use you again. "

16. And what has the response been from contractors?
Very positive response from contractors in Richmond.

17. How has your business changed since you first started until now?
Much more to running a business than I thought. I've had to delegate the administrative and Operational parts of the business, so that I can continue bringing the business in.

18. How has the economy affected your business?
Slowed down, but still very steady.

19. What goals do you have for your business in the future?
Double, then triple my income- totally attainable! The sky is the limit.

If you have additional questions for Jill or about launching an HRN in your area, please contact me directly at or by phone at 516-374-8504.


3/11 - Renovations, Remodels & Referrals
2/11 - Will Home Improvement Contractors Pay a Commission?
1/11 - Reinventing Your Career
11/10 - HRN Success Story
6/10 - Financing a New Business
5/10 - Busy Home Improvement Season
4/10 - Tax tips
3/10 - Your Way To Work At Home
2/10 - HRN Operating Costs
1/10 - Tips for Success
12/09 - HRN Success Story
10/09 - Work at Home Resources
9/09 - Running Your Business On The Go!
7/09 - Opportunity In Your own Backyard
6/09 - Starting a Home-based Business
5/09 - Finding the Right Home Business
4/09 - Good News
3/09 - HRN Success Story
2/09 - Pitfalls of Working From Home
1/09 Home Improvement Spending Increases
Winter 2009 - Recession Proof Business
Fall 2008 - What's in a Name?
Summer 2008 - Typical Day for an HRN Owner
Spring 2008 - Value of Prescreened Professionals
Winter 2007 - Top Ten Home Based Businesses
Fall 2007 - Finding Good Contractors
June 2007 - Misconceptions About HRN Business
Winter 2007 - Home-based Business Self Evaluation
Fall 2006 - HRN Business Fills a Contractor Need

For more information about starting a Homeowner Referral Network in your area, you may:

Fill out our online form to request more information. Or, call Debra Cohen at (516) 374-8504.

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