Tuesday, November 07, 2000

Free time valued over cash

        Now available in Northern Kentucky: More time. Be the first in your neighborhood to purchase a relaxed expression.

        The service is called Time on Your Side. For $20 to $25 an hour, Dawn Daugherty Miller will do all your grunt work: errand running, appointment making, dog walking, grocery shopping. She will stand in lines for you, write your thank-you notes, put up your holiday decorations and wait at your house for the cable guy who never arrives.

        All you have to do is earn the money to afford her.

        Ms. Miller launched the service and its Web site, www.timeonyourside.net, a month ago. She's trying to cash in on two trends: The rise in disposable income and the decline in our ability to enjoy it.

More gadgets, less time
               Funny how that happened. We were supposed to save time with cellular phones and e-mail. Instead, we're simply better informed. Now we know just how many other things we could be doing while we suffer through that stupid vehicle emissions test.

        Ms. Miller, who grew up in Fort Mitchell, had her own issues with time: She was spending too much of it in traffic.

        For 10 years, she has commuted from Villa Hills to Forest Park for her job as an environmental consultant. With two small children, she wanted to use her organizational skills while working closer to home.

        Personal-assistant services are among the fastest-growing home-based businesses, she says.

        “As we investigated, we found these are catching on like wildfire on the coasts,” Ms. Miller says.

        In Cincinnati, several others offer similar services. They include My Girl Friday, founded last year by Julie Hagenmaier of Fairfield, and Best Upon Request, a national service with headquarters in Cincinnati.

        Best Upon Request sells its services to companies as perks for employees. Its largest office, in Chicago, has six people running errands and orchestrating solutions to client needs.

        Work that can be done over the phone — hiring contractors for home repair, ordering the year's hottest Christmas toy — is handled from Cincinnati.

"My dearest (blank) ...'
               The 10-year-old company saw its sales take off in 1998, president Tillie Hidalgo Lima says.

        “There is a heightened awareness,” she says. “They're understanding, "Oh, you can do an errand for me?'”

        So far, the company doesn't have any corporate clients based in Cincinnati, although it does serve local employees of other companies.

        One executive asked Best Upon Request to find a place where he and his family could cut their own Christmas tree, Ms. Lima said. Then he got called away on business, and the company's instructions changed to “deliver and decorate the tree for us.”

        A client in Detroit used Best Upon Request to arrange his anniversary celebration, Ms. Lima says. The company found an emerald ring for his wife, booked reservations and even suggested some nice words for the card.

        Hmm. ... Just as I feared. Give some people “personal assistance,” and they use it to become less personal.

        We don't need new ways to save time, just new priorities.

        E-mail ksamples@enquirer.com.


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