Concierge Services Come of Age

Imagine the lobby of a luxury hotel. Tucked in the corner, behind an elaborately carved desk, sits an exquisitely coifed concierge. Male or female, their purpose is the same. To provide you, the vaunted guest, with an endless supply of suggestions and solutions to enhance your stay. They provide recommendations about tried and true places plus an extensive array of services.

Now change the time and place. Picture yourself as a guest in your own home. There may be no lobby of consequence, or mahogany desk in the foyer, but you too could have access to concierge services to enhance your life.

Take a moment. Make a mental list of the many things you no longer have the desire or capacity to do. While many of these things still require doing, the very thought of executing them exhausts you. What you need – is a personal concierge. And chances are pretty good that there is one someplace close to you.

No longer the exclusive domain of the rich and famous, personal concierge services have become ‘democratized’ as a range of services has emerged to support the needs of a wide variety of people at all income levels. While some businesses have carved out a niche working with high net worth individuals, an emerging group of concierge businesses is focusing on fulfilling everyday needs of people like you and me who do not have the time or inclination to complete certain tasks themselves.

The list of services provided is limited only by the imagination and a good concierge is recognized by their capacity to create tailored solutions. However, the services that are easiest to visualize, and the ones in highest demand by most clients, are the very same ones that you might value. Louise Nettleton, owner/operator of Simplify Lifestyle Concierge in Port Hope, breaks down her portfolio of services this way:

  • Running errands: Picking up groceries, providing personal shopping, picking up dry cleaning or returning merchandise

  • Transportation: Driving you to medical appointments, social events or the airport

  • Party Planning: Birthday, anniversary, retirement etc.

  • Home Organization: Creating order out of chaos so that you can live more comfortably

  • Home Watch Service: Someone to keep an eye on your property when you cannot

  • Virtual Assistant: Booking reservations, research, document services etc.

Seniors, as a group, are embracing the idea of concierge services. They fulfill critical needs like transportation (for individuals who no longer choose to drive) or home watch services (for snow birds who want to ensure their homes are under a watchful eye). The services can also relieve seniors of more mundane tasks that require doing, but deplete their energies. Imagine outsourcing weekly grocery shopping to someone who knows your specific dietary needs. Picture the ease of door-to-door transportation when you visit your doctor, book club or grandchildren. Have a few drinks after the theatre knowing that a trusted driver is available to shepherd you home.

What about Price? Many concierge services are priced À la Carte reflecting the complexity of the task and the time and resources required to fulfill it. In the Toronto area, rates can range from $30 – 150.00/hr, depending on the provider and the service required. Some companies have embraced the idea of a monthly subscription model that allows you to tap into a specific number of hours each month for a fixed fee.

SAGE’s recommendation is to take the time to investigate local concierge providers and choose one that provides the best combination of services, price and personal relationship. A successful concierge relationship has all the hallmarks of a good friendship: dependability, confidentiality and trust. Invest the time to find your best fit and watch your life get easier!

Lessons Learned From the SMM Trenches in 2015

If year-end is a time for reflection, then I have more than the usual amount to reflect on.

SAGE Relocation Services was launched in 2015 with a modest goal of providing Senior Move Management (SMM) services to the communities on the eastern fringes of Toronto.  As a business focused on seniors, we accepted and embraced the fact that the first year would be full of new learning and unexpected lessons.  What we didn’t anticipate was the strong degree of support and interest from our communities.

We are grateful! I’d like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of our clients for entrusting us with their projects.  We appreciate that we became part of your lives at a critical juncture.  Through working with each of you, we learned about each of your unique lives, the characteristics of your generation and the common challenges faced by seniors in transition.  It was a year full of joy and too many ‘AHA’ moments to recount.  

As a small ‘Thank You’ to our clients we’d like to impart a few ‘Sage” lessons learned that are worth sharing.

1.    YOUR home is NOT the messiest, most disorganized, overstuffed or cluttered house known-to-man.  Trust us when we say that we have seen worse - and have been able to create calm order out of seemingly insurmountable chaos.  Our message for new clients is this. “Feel free to invite us into your mess.”  Our job is to bring order to your world so that you can move on.

2.    The word ‘Collecting’ is a verb for a reason.  We have met avid collectors of fascinating artifacts of all description.  While each collection is impressive, the sheer number of items becomes a burden to an owner interested in downsizing.  Our message is this.  “There are creative ways to retain the joy and satisfaction of a collection – while letting go of many of the physical items.” Talk to us to find out how.

3.    Downsizing does not always equal less. It many cases, it equals more! How is this possible you may wonder?  It has been our experience that the clients we have downsized, emerge with a renewed sense of calm, energy and increased happiness.  They tell us this is due to their decision to let go of the previous chapter of life and move forward with less ‘stuff’ and more ‘purpose’.  Downsizing means fewer items to maintain, less housing-related costs, less space to clean and less home maintenance.  Inevitably, our clients state that they should have done it sooner.

These were just 3 of the many lessons we learned.  You are welcome to apply them to your own life.  Talk to us and we’ll be glad to tell you more.

In the meantime, SAGE would like to acknowledge and thank all our clients.  You made 2015 more joyful and meaningful than we could have imagined.  We move forward into 2016 with eager anticipation for the new clients, friends and experiences that lie ahead.