I wasn’t at all sure what “Family Concierge” meant when I first found out about Allison Woodson’s new service to help families; wasn’t a concierge the guy at the hotel who recommended restaurants? Well, it turns out that Allison can do that, too (to your exact specifications, no less), but finding you the perfect restaurant is just the tip of the iceberg. Concierge means, according to the dictionary, “1) Especially in France, one who cares for an apartment complex or small hotel, 2) Hotel employee whose job it is to care for guests needs: arranging tours, making reservations, etc.”. “Care” is the key word here- Allison offers her clients help with all those annoying investigation tasks so many families need but don’t have time for. Curious, I signed up for a month as a reporter for Denver Parent. Here’s my experience; I can tell you I was very surprised.
We arranged to meet at a coffee shop and over hot beverages she explained the types of tasks she could do for me: Find the perfect babysitter (whom she would check the background of and interview first), research products or services we might need for the house, keep us updated of shows coming of the types of entertainment we like, and more. She said that during our trial month she would even respond to texts like, “I forgot we need reservations to an upscale restaurant tonight- can you find a place that has seating for 10 for 6:00?” Although we rarely need this sort of help, once I started to think about my mental to-do list, I was surprised by how many things I realized I could use some assistance with. No, she wouldn’t help me clean out my garage or pick up my dry-cleaning, but she could help me find someone who could.
Although her usual clientele is attracted by the convenience of delegating, I quickly realized that for a family of more modest means like ours, she actually saved me not only time but money. Allison pays for subscriptions such as Care.com, Angie’s List, Consumer Reports, and others so that you don’t have to, and these are just part of her arsenal to find the best bargain on whatever it is you need, if that is your interest. Our list included finding the best and most reasonably priced wireless speaker- I had already spent (too much) time trying to figure this out and was completely overwhelmed. So, I gave her the list of what was important to me (e.g., excellent sound, portable, can plug a CD player into it, etc.) and she came up with two options, spelling out the advantages and disadvantages of each. Her research included going to a store and talking to a professional. I now enjoy our new UE Boom speaker not only because it is perfect for our needs, but also because I’m not worrying that there is something else out there we should have gotten instead.
Next, I needed to find a company that could clean and re-stretch our carpets; a task I had been putting off for years. I was hoping Allison could find me some crazy Living Social deal that would do it all for $100, but when it turned out to be much more, by this time I trusted her research skills and could let it go. The same thing happened when she researched a deck-staining service for us (why are they so expensive!?), and a company that could install a gas fireplace insert. Now I understood why I’d been putting these off; avoidance of sticker-shock. Regardless, my mental to-do list was getting lighter by the day and I could prioritize these major tasks.
However the best things were the recommendations she found for both a roofer and a plumber. These are services that make me extremely nervous, given that they must be done right and there are many “rip off” stories out there. However, we were very happy with both- both quality and price. Lord knows how much she saved us between these two projects alone; potentially hundreds.
Allison is currently running an introductory special for $159/month with a 3 month minimum contract and am also waiving the $50 contract fee. She also has special ala carte holiday deals to help you with all your holiday needs: purchasing, wrapping and mailing gifts, etc. For more information visit her website: www.yourfamconcierge.com.
In an age when we are bombarded with information, I was excited to have help sifting through it all. I simply don’t have time between working and childcare and self-care to properly research the services and products I need, and I hadn’t realized the extent to which this stress weighed me down. Although I don’t know if our family could hire her every month, the relief knowing these tasks had been taken care of was priceless.