hear cry for time
Tame the errand beast: Hand your to-do list to personal concierge
February 14, 2005
By Lisa Bertagnoli
Some busy people hire personal assistants; others rely on spouses
(or teenagers) to give them a hand with unwieldy to-do lists.
How about the rest of the time-strapped masses?
For an hourly fee, concierge services will pick up the dry cleaning,
walk and feed the dog, wait for the cable guy, hire a plumber,
make dinner reservations, order flowers and even shop for groceries.
Rather like to-do lists, no two concierge services are the same.
Several in the Chicago area specialize in business tasks: typing,
sorting, maintaining records and other thankless jobs. Others
work as hourly housekeepers, taking care of time-consuming chores
such as waiting for deliveries, hiring and supervising repair
people and running Saturday morning-type errands.
Most are sole business people offering personal services to
a handful of clients. The biggest, Lisle-based Valet Today,
operates on a grander scale, offering a set menu of errands,
among them DVD returns and dry cleaning pickup and drop-off,
to mass populations at train stations, apartment complexes and
In the more personalized services, concierges charge a set hourly
fee and offer package deals to steady clients. They get a key
to the house and a credit card number for purchases (such as
groceries); clients can reimburse concierges with cash or checks
if they prefer. Concierges maintain lists of preferred service
providers and charge those companies (not their clients) a finder's