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The rise of the home services sector

Poor work life balance coupled with increasing demands on our time are leading more Australians to consider outsourcing their domestic chores. But what does it cost and why should you consider it?

It was once the domain of only the financially elite.

But increasing professional and personal demands on our time mean everyone from single parent families to retirees are now seeking third party support for every day jobs ranging from driving kids to school to doing laundry.

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show Australians are feeling more time-poor than ever before with as many as 45 percent of women and 36 percent of men complaining they frequently feel rushed.

Online market place job sites such as Airtasker and Gumtree have made it easier than ever for Australians to source one-off assistance for everything from dismantling beds to carpet cleaning for a flat fee. Private service providers such as Jarvis Home Services and Heavenly Households offer butler-type services and can be engaged to organise everything from your dry cleaning to gift buying for a set fee.

This has led to a surge in demand for domestic concierge services with some believing the personal services industry could potentially be worth up to $2 billion a year in Australia. According to business analyst group IBISWorld, up to 2.5 million positions are the direct result of household outsourcing, which generated $325 million in revenues in 2015.

Sydneysider Melissa Williams began her working life as a nanny and child care worker but after spotting increasing demand, she launched her business, Heavenly Households, in 2016.

Williams says her job involves completing all daily and weekly chores that her clients struggle to complete themselves.

Her whole household services range from making beds, reorganising cupboards and ironing to walking the dog, watering the garden and picking up dry cleaning. She also offers home maintenance and tradesmen co-ordination, holiday rental and Airbnb care, child related services, animal and pet care, and post-surgery home assistance.

“I come into their home as their on-call assistant and can do virtually whatever they need me to do while I am there. I am a little similar perhaps to a personal assistant or executive housekeeper but my clients know they can ask me to do things one wouldn’t normally ask a housekeeper to do, like taking care of their children and pets, do their shopping or plan and make family meals or school lunches. My clients like to call it the ‘cross over’.”

Williams charges her clients a flat rate of $43 per hour, taking on as many tasks as possible within that 60-minute time frame. Bookings must be for a minimum of three hours and each includes all travel costs.

While there in no such thing as a “typical client” in her line of work, Williams says she caters to everyone from busy professionals and single parents, to expectant mums and retirees.

She admits most of her demand comes from busy families with young children.

“These are generally couples, sometimes with only one working parent and I often act as a kind of ‘mummy’s assistant’ or “mum clone” as some of my clients like to say.”

The types of tasks she is required to do is also spread quite evenly, she says, although jobs within the home appear to be the most in demand.

“I really can generate more time for my clients. Instead of slaving away doing things like laundry, ironing, preparing meals and driving around doing various errands, clients can take the much-needed time to spend with their families, especially their children.

“Chores and errands, especially housework in general, tend to all be in desperate need of being done and clients are generally very relieved to have someone there to take care of these chores and errands for them.”

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