They will pick up your laundry and your children, pay your bills, plan your taxes and your holidays, organise your poojas and parties, update your files and your wardrobe, and accomplish almost every annoyingly banal but necessary thing on your to-do list, save finding true love. What you can’t do or don’t want to do, simply outsource.
At least that’s the thought behind a company that offers you your very own personal assistant, a concierge service that can arrange an elephant for a baby’s birthday party and personal shoppers who will fix your wardrobe and your life.
When HR manager, Swastik Rath (30) and his wife, VP (sales) Kim Collaco (28) were shifting from Malad to Khar, they realised they had much to do and very little time. Enter Naomi.
She arranged for the packers and movers with the best possible rates, got their new phone connections, changed their addresses for official documents, deposited assorted cheques, and pursued their broker for completion of paperwork. Naomi is the couple’s personal assistant hired on a monthly basis from Big Help, a Mumbai-based venture that claims to be India’s first personal assistant company.
Launched in June this year, Big Help allows individuals and families to outsource their routine personal tasks to assistants on call.
Its founder and director, Suresh Paryani (29), explains, “As there is Business Process Outsourcing, Personal Services Outsourcing is also a common practice internationally. But this is the first time we have introduced such a concept to India.”
Paryani likens the PA to an office secretary except that the latter doesn’t usually get the wife’s groceries delivered, sign up the husband for yoga classes, or fillout the children’s admission forms.
He asserts that unlike a concierge service where anyone can do your bidding, Big Help assigns one dedicated assistant to the member who can call or email the PA to perform tasks from Monday through Friday for a monthly subscription of Rs 4000.
Rath, who signed up for the monthly couple membership of Rs 5000, says: “Initially it was a daunting task to brief someone else about all the things to be done. But once Naomi understood our requirements, she took a load off our heads by coordinating, negotiating and following up on everything.” Impressed by the exhaustive list of services they offer (even hiring detective agencies) Rath has renewed his membership for another month. “Even then”, he says, “I find it difficult to adjust to the fact that someone else is doing the things I have always managed to get done on my own.”
But would you manage to hire an elephant for a child’s birthday party on your own? If not, that’s where A la Concierge comes in. Founded in 2003 as a premier concierge company servicing corporates and businesses, A la Concierge began catering to individual clients only last year. “We realised that running errands is cumbersome for people in Mumbai with traffic hassles, security concerns and lack of time,” says business development manager, Keval Gandhi (27).
While they offer the customary concierge services of travel, banking, bill payment, ticket bookings, postal, courier and event management, they also fulfil those niggling day-to-day tasks like key duplication, traffic offence challan payment, prepaid mobile cards refill and camera roll development. Regular membership costs Rs 600 a month, while the gold membership – where one is assigned a relationship manager – is priced at Rs 5000 a month. Gandhi adds, “We have even arranged kitty parties and organised medical help for senior citizens. We fulfil the vaguest of requests as long as they are moral, ethical and legal.”
Legal as it may be, is outsourcing one’s shopping for clothes feasible? Jignasa Parikh Shingal (24), co-founder of XY Personal Shoppers seems to think so. The company, she started a year ago with stylist Priti Kalani, now has 15 clients including socialites, models, NRIs and working professionals. The duo deem themselves as wardrobe managers who can change your life by changing your clothes.
“Some people have the money, but they don’t have taste. Others have taste, but they don’t have time. We guide them through clothing, accessories, hair, make-up and even home furnishings,” says Shingal. First the duo gets the client to fill out their personal details, followed by a two hour conversation where they observe their personalities and delve into their psyches. Next, they discard unnecessary items in the client’s wardrobe. Thirdly, they fix the budget and finally they actually go out and shop for the client. For a 6-hour, one-time wardrobe consultation, they charge Rs 10,000-12,000 while a three-month package costs at least a lakh and wedding packages can go up to two lakh and more.
Model and actress Dipannita Sharma (33) regularly approaches the team to dress her for social events and holidays. She says, “I think laziness, traffic woes, constant traveling and lack of time make me depend on this service. I trust their taste, and it’s nice to wear new clothes without stepping into a store.”