New Order

By Carmen D. Nobel | Boston Home |

Until recently, I had a job that required me to fly around the country. A lot. No matter where I went, I knew I could count on hotel concierges, those magical people who jump through hoops for their guests. But whenever I got home to an empty refrigerator and weeks’ worth of laundry and utility bills, I wished I could have packed a concierge in my carryon.

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Turns out, my dream wasn’t so far-fetched. A handful of personal concierge businesses in Boston help harried clients complete their to-do lists for an hourly cost of $28 to $65 (a bargain compared with stress-induced therapy sessions). When I realized my car’s inspection sticker was months overdue and that a garbage bag of old clothes in my hallway wasn’t going to drive itself to Goodwill, I sought professional help.

I called Chantal Boxer, who started Boston’s Fini Concierge with her husband, Edward, four years ago. (Before that, Boxer was the local director of a nonprofit community service program. Consequently, she is organized, patient, and dogged.) Fini, which generally charges $47 per hour and has a staff of five, divides its list of services into nine general categories: errands (picking up dry cleaning, mailing heavy packages); information (reminding a client about his or her anniversary); waiting (letting the cable guy in); housesitting; personal shopping; travel arrangements; home coordination (dealing with the plumber); special occasion planning; and simplified moving services. Like their hotel counterparts, Fini’s concierges field requests that range from mundane to rarified. "One of our clients wanted to purchase a messenger pigeon," Boxer notes. "We found a breeder."

Typically, the company can accommodate customers within one to three days after an online form is submitted (mine took about 15 minutes to fill out). I wrote a lengthy to-do list, welcomed Boxer into my home, spent 20 minutes detailing my needs, handed off my car keys and credit card number, and headed to the hot tub. I trusted her completely, in part because Fini is both bonded for $100,000 and insured for $2 million, but mostly because Boxer, in a crisp dress and confident smile, reminded me of a cross between a first-grade teacher and a high-powered CEO.  

Refreshed, I arrived back home to find that Boxer had not only completed all the tasks on my list, but had also done so with more skill, savvy, and efficiency than I ever could. For example, while upgrading my Internet service, she secured a coveted direct number of a customer service agent so I could avoid automated voice-mail hell in the future. And in renewing my inspection sticker, she chose a garage that was both nearby and efficient, making the process as speedy as possible. Including research, all the tasks on my list took less than nine hours. "If it’s out there, we’ll find it," says Boxer.

Fini Concierge, $47 per hour (one-hour minimum), 617-247-0043, finiconcierge.com.