Extreme Delegation: My Review of Hello Alfred
Delegation / / Mar 15, 2016
When you run a business, it’s weird to talk to friends who work 9-5 jobs about what they do after work, and on weekends, and on their vacation time, etc. I’m not knocking this by any means it’s just a very foreign thing when you’re used to working long hours at an office, followed by a few more hours at home in the evening and more hours still on the weekend.
Over the past year I’ve developed quite a few passions alongside my love for my business. Some of these are:
- Trying every craft beer imaginable (shoutout to the geniuses at Astoria Bier and Cheese on Ditmars)
- Learning all the ins and outs of wine (shoutout to the geniuses at ClubW)
- Working out 3-4 days per week (shoutout to Luz Milagros Arpino and Matrix Fitness)
- Cooking (shoutout to everyone who’s gotten me recipe books!)
- Exploring my neighborhood
- Travel (of course)
- And obviously spending time accruing the points to travel and live a pretty sick lifestyle (hence, why we’re here.)
- I figured I should add blogging to the list at this point.
Hooray for me spending the past year of my life becoming a much more well rounded individual with several interests outside of technology, advertising, business operations and the convergence of those three things! The only problem? There’s physically not enough hours in a week to have time for all of this when factoring in how long I work, that I WILL go to the gym a minimum of 3 times a week and that I do enjoy my sleep.
From my last blog post you can gather that I am willing to let go of some control and even some cash if it means that I can have a few hours a week back to focus on things that I really love (like cooking!)
What is Hello Alfred?
Hello Alfred wants to be what they often call an “Uber for Butlers.” I will NEVER forget the first time I was with friends and said “no need to get a cab, hang on.” I pressed a button on my phone and told them something to the effect of “Mohammad is on his way in a Chevy Suburban to pick us up. Looks like he’s a few blocks away. He should be here in about 5 minutes.” People’s facial reactions to such a strange and amazing new technology was absolutely priceless. It got even better as I entered the car and greeted Mohammad by name just to have him greet me by name as well. Again, priceless faces! For all intents and purposes, Mohammad and I went way back and as far as my friends could tell he’s been driving me for years. Hence Uber’s slogan at the time “Everyone’s private driver.”
Fastforward to 2016 where the word “Uber” is almost interchangeable with “cab.” What can leave me with that same feeling of awe as that first Uber experience? Enter Alfred!
In my quest to purchase back some of my time, I stumbled upon this service which is a life saver.
How It Works:
The company brands itself in a way that they want you to feel like you have one super-sidekick butler named Alfred. While they definitely deliver on getting everything done, I am personally much more impressed by what’s really happening behind the curtain of what makes up Alfred: a great team of talented people who work in unison to get your chores done. For that reason, instead of explaining the service by saying that the non-existent “Alfred” gets things done for me, I’ll speak to the individual person on the team who makes it happen to give them credit where it’s due.
Your first meeting is with what’s called an “Alfred Client Manager” or “ACM” for short. This person may be your ongoing ACM or you may get assigned someone else. Alfred Client Managers are the human beings who will be responsible for doing all of your errands on a weekly basis. During your setup appointment the ACM gets to know you by asking you all about your preferences. They are insanely thorough. Here’s some of the questions the ACM asked me off the top of my head:
- Do you prefer we purchase organic or non?
- If you specify a brand, can we deviate to a similar product from another brand?
- How big of a price difference are you ok with spending if your first choice isn’t available?
- If you ask us for wine, what kind of wines do you prefer?
- If you ask for beer, what kind do you prefer?
The purpose of these upfront questions are to make your ongoing experience as painless as possible. Instead of having to be super specific (as you often do when delegating) you can tell what you want (such as “beer”) and your Alfred Client Manager will make intelligent decisions within your parameters. If they ever pick up something that you’re unhappy with, they’ll be happy to return it the next week.
During this meeting you also give the ACM a tour of your place to show them where your trash bins and laundry are, talk about trash removal procedures, etc. Since your ACM will be coming into your home to pick stuff up, drop stuff off and tidy the place up, they’ll take a copy of your keys to make that smooth as butter.
Talking to Alfred:
The Alfred Client Managers are the people who make it happen on the ground for you, but there’s much more to it than that.
The Alfred App becomes your new master to-do list. Instead of having all different apps to keep track of your grocery list and other to-do items, you just open this one app and list out everything errands related that needs to be done. This includes:
- All the groceries you want (You don’t have to be super specific, from my experience, my ACM makes very intelligent decisions with little guidance)
- Any other shopping you need done
- If you need your laundry done
- If you need your dry cleaning done
- If you need a handy man to come take care of anything around the house
- If you’d like to have a cleaning service clean your home
I love the app because all throughout the week any time I think of something I need done I can plug it into the app and when my ACM comes it will be completed without any further thinking on my part. If you have any special requests that don’t fit into any category you can click a button to send a message to the Alfred team and they’ll figure out how to arrange it for you and add it to your list on their end of things.
My FAVORITE feature of the app is that now that my Saturday’s aren’t tied up with running errands all day, I can crack open a cook book and thumb through recipes I find interesting. Once I find one that I’d like to make that week I just take a picture of it using my phone camera and plug it into the app. I note what ingredients I already have and the Alfred team figures out what else my ACM should purchase so I can make the recipe. Ever since I’ve started using this feature I’m cooking MUCH more and loving it.
Coming Home Happy:
The Alfred slogan is “Come Home Happy.” This does a good job of conveying how I feel on a Monday night after a long day of work, immediately followed by an intense workout when I come home and realize my errands are done. This is what that experience is like:
- Right upon walking in I find handwritten note cards from my ACM about what he did that day and decisions he had to make such as substitutions. I get a crack out of reading these because it shows me how hard my ACM works, not just on the physical errands but also at making decisions on my behalf.
- Things instantly feel noticeably different in a very positive way. For example, I never thought of my coffee table as messy until I saw that my ACM had straightened out the piles on it. The best way I can describe this is it feels like it’s been Feung Shuid and leaves me feeling zen. This also goes for my kitchen table, office desk, etc.
- My bed is made up to military standards. While I make my bed each morning, having it made by a pro once a week keeps the sheets nice and snug. I always feel weird saying that they make your bed but this silly perk is one of my favorites. Getting into a nice, well made bed at the start of the week feels so good. The best way I can describe it is it feels like getting into bed in a high end hotel.
- When I’m ready to cook, I open the fridge and inside are all the ingredients I need for my recipe alongside my yogurt for breakfast, carrots for a daytime snack and other things I requested for the week. Spices are in the pantry, right where I would put them. Cooking great meals is painless when the ingredients seemingly spontaneously generate in your refrigerator
- In my closet, my dress shirts are already hung and that annoying plastic from the dry cleaners is long gone.
- My clean laundry is laid out on my bed in neat piles (I hear there’s a way to get them to put the stuff away in your drawers, I need to work on that!)
- Every trash bin in the house is empty.
I think and stress a lot at work. Thanks to Alfred, for a mere $32 a week, my home life is 100% done and stress free.
The single most common concern I hear when I tell people about this is that they’re worried about giving some random person their keys. Unlike Uber and the new “gig economy” labor practices where workers are paid per task and essentially disposable, Alfred treats labor completely different. Their team is extremely rigorously vetted, and those who make the cut become well paid employees. What I love about this model is that the employees both know that the company has their back and they have something good to lose if they were to do something negligent. As a result, it seems they hire pretty trustworthy people to be ACMs.
The Alfred slogan “Come Home Happy” is accurate but doesn’t really help me explain why Alfred is amazing. I much prefer to tell people “For $32 a week, you NEVER have to run errands again.” Personally, I enjoyed running errands, exploring the grocery store, getting to know the awesome family who runs my dry cleaners (shoutout to Jimmy’s Cleaners.) It’s not that I’m at all above doing any of these things, it’s just a matter of prioritizing my time and if I want to focus on things I enjoy even more, the errands had to go. Plus, my ACM keeps my apartment super tidy to the point that I’ve been quoted as saying that life with Alfred makes me feel like I’m living in a high end hotel. That’s some experience for $32 a week.
Ultimately, I’d like to acknowledge the people who make this work (all of whom I hope to meet some day soon)
- Christian Bjelland: one of the founding members of the Alfred team and who I’ve had the pleasure of working with to get setup. They are very lucky to have his mind at work there.
- Marcela Sapone: This woman is a genius. I love checking out her press appearances to hear insight she gives into the future of how tech and humans will work together to take automation to new heights in the short term.
- Jessica Beck: Another genius – she set out to give extremely busy professionals like myself our time back after realizing firsthand how crazy life can get from her own career.
- My ACM, Brooks Cline: Brooks is the “stranger” who I have the audacity to trust with running my errands and making decisions on my behalf. He does such an amazing job at both of these things and as CEO of my house, I’m happy to have him on my team.
This blog is all about building an amazing lifestyle for yourself, even when you’re on a budget. Few things in life are as incredible as being able to tell people “I have a butler run all my errands” and knowing that all of it gets done for $32 per week. We all need more hours in the day and you can get your first week FREE when you signup and use the code “MICHAELP29” I’ll also get a free week for telling you about it!