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Outsourcing personal services

CONSIDER It Done Personal Concierge Service – the name of this Subiaco business says it all.

It is one of a growing number of businesses aiming to profit from the trend towards outsourcing of home and personal services.

Whether it’s walking the dog, buying gifts, running errands or buying groceries, there are businesses in Perth that can do it for you.

Lea Simons, a co-founder of Consider It Done, said her clients included busy professionals, interstate executives needing assistance while they are in Perth, and people wanting their homes looked after while they are on holidays.

The potential of this market has been highlighted by the success of the Jim’s Mowing franchise.

While lawn mowing has been outsourced for many years, Jim’s has diversified into more than 20 other services including house cleaning, dog washing, tree lopping, car cleaning, blind cleaning and bookkeeping.

It now has 2,100 franchisees around the world and generated operating revenue of $4.3 million in 2001-02.

The parent company, Jim’s Corp, issued a pros-pectus earlier this month to raise $1 million from investors.

Another successful franchise is Hire A Hubby, which describes itself as the complete home maintenance and repair service.

A relative veteran in the field is Stephen Greville, who has been running Home and Away for five years. His core services are pet care and home maintenance. 

“This can mean having a pet looked after at 5am or having the lawn watered at 9pm if that is what the client has asked for,” Mr Greville said.

Some clients hire Home and Away for a one-off holiday while others have come to rely on the service.

“In one case a client had moved overseas. We arranged the packaging and freight of his furniture to the UK, sold his car and found new owners for his dog, cat and rabbit,” Mr Greville said.

“All the new owners were vetted to ensure they were going to the best of homes.”

The Perth market had been more challenging than Sydney and Melbourne, where he worked previously, Mr Greville said.

“In Sydney and Melbourne, time is money. People are prepared to pay a reasonable rate,” he said.

Many people still relied on friends or neighbours to help out while on holiday, he said, only to discover on their return that gardens had not been watered and pets had not been fed.

Mr Greville faces competition from ‘cash only’ operators, but said clients were recognising the importance of insurance cover and tax compliance.

Home and Away has $10 million of public liability insurance and is a registered business, GST compliant and accredited with the Tourism Council of WA.

It also has an agreement signed for each period of home or pet care, which details everything from the client’s contact numbers to specific pet requirements.

Mr Greville said that, apart from the convenience, there were some hard-nosed reasons for hiring a professional helper, especially during extended holidays.

It meant that clients’ homes had a lived in look and were more secure. Some insurance policies are made invalid if a home is unoccupied and untended for 60 days or more.

Mr Greville said the service may be tax deductible if Home and Away performed services such as retrieving emails and checking faxes for a client on a business trip.

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