Office Concierges Aim to Reduce Distractions

ByABC News via logo

April 2, 2006 — -- Modern life can leave many Americans desperate for a little help. Between the office, home and family, there's less time for those nagging little errands like bill paying, dry cleaning, dog walking, ticket buying and oil changing.

"I would have to allocate probably half an hour to an hour, once or twice a week, to do some of these chores," said Ketchum Secor, "and that would interfere with me finding new business."

"We're all so pressured for time, I literally just don't have the time to do it," said Stephen Mark Rosen. "I'm not sure how I'd get any of these things done."

Enter the corporate concierge. It's a service that helps corporate workers like Secor and Rosen get household tasks done while they're working.

"The best part of this job is being pretty much the most popular person in the building," said Lisa Lester, a concierge with Charm City Concierge of Baltimore.

The concierge industry first gained momentum during the dot-com boom of the 1990s. Even though that bubble burst, the corporate pampering endured.

"Time is very important to all of us, and I believe that having a concierge available to us during our business hours is a luxury that would be hard to do without," said Patricia Bonebreak, a concierge client.

According to the National Concierge Association, the demand for these corporate perks has grown 1,000 percent since 1998. Back then, there were only six concierge companies. Today there are 600, and that number continues to grow.

"People aren't going to get any less busy," said Tina Urquart, a co-founder of Charm City Concierge. "It's sort of the state of America today, the go, go, go -- so I don't see it going backwards. … I think it's going to keep expanding, and probably into more arenas."

"When we started, we had one building," she added. "Now we've grown to be 102 buildings, we have about 50,000 clients that we serve, so it really has escalated. People today are more and more busy. More places are trying to be competitive and retain their employees."

Employers are happy to foot the bill in some cases because they say it cuts down on lost productivity.

"It makes our clients more productive," said Nancy Green, another co-founder of Charm City Concierge.

"It ultimately pays for itself," Urquart said.

By all indications, corporate workers welcome the growth, the help and the perks.

"My daughter was pleading with me that she wanted to see Kanye West," said Rosen, one such worker. "Jocelyn, the local concierge here, ended up getting us fantastic seats. … I'm now father of the year in the local middle school."

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