Too busy to take shirts to the cleaners or shop for Christmas presents, high-flying Americans have spawned an industry to absolve themselves of everyday chores. Enter the "lifestyle manager."
"In (Washington) DC people are extremely busy and they have no time for anything, so there was an obvious need for a service like this," said Ezra Glass, who three years ago, at age 25, founded his own lifestyle manager company, Serenity Now.
His staff of seven undertake everyday chores from walking the dog to hiring a private jet or selling a customer's car.
"The strangest thing I had to do once -- a client wanted her dog taken to some place in Colorado but she wanted the dog to be driven in only a certain type of car," said Glass. "I had to rent a Ford Explorer because the dog was supposed to like it better."
Some 650 lifestyle management companies in 22 countries -- 500 in the United States -- are listed by the International Concierge and Errand Association (ICEA). Apparently born in California, the idea has spread, notably to London, since the late 1990s.
"It's booming now," says ICEA director Carla Mandell. "The key reason, around the world individuals are just time starved. They want more time to do the things they enjoy doing and they’d rather delegate the things they do not."
Fees can range from 45 to 110 dollars per hour depending on the tasks, while clients of some companies, such as Serenity Now, pay a monthly subscription, with rates from 450 to 1,200 dollars."Generally they are very well to do. A lot of them are entrepreneurs, lawyers and lobbyists," said Glass.
The ICEA says more than a third of people who hire a lifestyle manager earn between 50,000 and 100,000 dollars a year.
"Most of our clients are in a six figure range, but not necessary a million dollars," said Lori Welch, who employs two people part time at her Washington area company Just Call Lori.
"They work a tremendous amount of hours ... You have money but you don't have time," she said as a busy client called in to have his Christmas shopping done for him.
The Christmas holiday and spring are the busiest times for lifestyle managers. "I don't know why people want to get a lot done in spring time," said Glass. Their biggest jobs often have to do with redecorating a house, buying an automobile and organizing vacation schedules.
As the holiday season got into full swing, Lori Welch was booked up. She has about 100 customers, 25 of them regulars on a monthly basis.
"We do Christmas shopping, we ship the gifts, we stay in the line in the post office for them, we've gotten trees because people want to decorate the tree but not to go out," she said.