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FANCY HANDS BLOG

TeamWork.

Executives are employed for their unique skillset. If you're their boss, you're paying them for their expertise. If you're the executive, you're being paid to perform and deliver based on your expertise. 

However, often times, executives find that half of their day has been spent mired in the muck of administrative work. 

With Fancy Hands' "TeamWork" plan, an entire company can reap the rewards of having a team of assistants handle the pile of mundane, assistant-level work that must be done; for a discounted price - a fraction of the cost it would require to staff the office with full-time assistants.

This allows executives to stop getting tied down with silly stuff and focus on what they're good at. 

Check out what some of our TeamWork clients are saying: 

App-solutely.

The update to our iPhone app is out! It fixes login issues, location services, and there are some other goodies in store for you.

Meh.

Don't let it getcha!

Fancy Kids.

I don't have kids, but our founder Ted does, and if the amount of times his son has ruined a road trip or a night of sleep by throwing up is any indication, it seems like being a parent can be quite a challenge. 

Our clients with children rely on Fancy Hands to help them with all of their kid-related inquiries. Here's a sampling of their recent requests:

My daughter is 10 months old and she has outgrown her Graco 35 car seat. Can you research the next seat that we should buy, sending me research, reviews and pricing options? 

We’ve been cooking as a family for a while and we’re tired of all of our recipes, but too busy to research new ones. Can you send me healthy parent websites with new food ideas, and can you recommend good cookbooks that we could order from Amazon? They should be highly rated and focused on organic, healthy living. 

My nephew is about to turn one year old. His parents are both vegan hipster types. Can you send me ideas for birthday presents under $80 and find a place in Seattle where the items are in stock so I can go purchase them? The gift should be eco-conscious and super cool.

Can you have my daughter’s pediatrician fill out the attached permission form confirming that she’s healthy to go on her school field trip, and then send it to her school? 

Can you please send me some research about cord blood banking? I'd like to get some actual stories of families who have benefitted from banking their baby's cord blood and how it helped them, as well as hear from negative objectors who feel this is unecessary and/or not advisable. 

Can you send me a list of programs that are available to stream on Netflix that are well-reviewed educational shows for my children? 

Keep up the good work, parents...we're here to help you when you need it! 

Tea & Crumpets.

We're a US-based company but we work for clients all over the world, and we have many in the UK. 

Sometimes our assistants have to look up the words that are used in a request to be sure they understand what our British friends are referring to! 

Here's a cheat sheet highlighting some of our common differences (click to expand).

Too Hot to Handle, Too Cold to Hold.

The temperature at Fancy Hands HQ varies widely. Our methods of heating and cooling are tempermental and inefficient. Add that to a handful of people toying with the thermostat everyday, adjusting it to the temperature that they feel is perfect for them, and you get a lot of ups and downs. 

Nick, one of our developers, brought an electric imp in so that he could chart the scale of our thermodifferentiation (I think I just made that word up).

You're a giver.

Have trouble thinking of gift ideas for friends and family? Throughout the year, whenever you hear them mention something they want or like in conversation, add it to the "notes" section of their contact in your phone. As their birthday or a holiday approaches, you'll have a cheat sheet ready to go.

Your Fancy Hands assistants can help you buy the gift, and you'll be a hero! 

Meet Jon: Developer

Meet the star of our accidental office meme - Sad Jon. 

Stay Creative!

Nap time?

(Click to enlarge) 

(Via Daily Infographic)

The pre-work of the work.

How many cows are there in Texas?

That's just one of the questions that Fancy Hands client Kate, of Prepwise.com, has asked her assistants to research for her. And then she sent us this email:

I logged in to place another request, but realized you may not hear often enough how appreciated you are.

The service is great and admittedly so is the price point. Thanks.

Also, big kudos to your user interface team. I recently had to build another site (which is NOT my bag), and was reminded how unsung cohesive design is. Your design aesthetic works for me. This dashboard is perfect. Nice contrast with the tasks remaining and reboot date. All above the fold. Clean. Simple. Pleasant design really does make it nice to return. Thanks for all you do.

-High five from The West Village, NYC

I reached out to Kate further and she added: 

The question I had when I signed up was, "Will I really need 25 requests? What can I possibly need every month that they can do?" You'll see I've used most of my requests most months.

Your team has helped me clarify some direction by doing some of the high level research so I could free up my mental resources for other activities.

I've been surprised by how many tasks you guys can actually help with once I started thinking about chunking the way I need/use information.

There have been a couple of phone calls to Time Warner and Con Edison, but really, the biggest draw is having a smart assistant do a quick search - another thinking person contributing to my efforts.

It often saves me from doing the same search and lets me start deeper. In the case of filing out paperwork, your team has helped me find the document I needed so I could get work of the work done without needing to do the pre-work of the work

Here are some requests that Kate sent to her Fancy Hands assistants recently: 

  • Can you send me 4-5 options for tech-oriented, flexible office space in NYC?
  • Please call this admissions office and ask them if they would sponsor or extend an existing F-1 visa for one of my students if she enrolls with them for a year while she continues her English studies to get into an American university.
  • Please help me identify 3 anti-virus software options using Mac Lion or Snow Leopard that will protect my machine and create logs that can be downloaded and shared as needed.
  • How much gas do Americans use to drive their cars annually?
  • What's the number of Apple products in use?
  • How many dogs are there in the US?
  • Can you please get me in ASAP for an allergy patch test with my doctor? 
  • Please help me identify the best 4-5 places to bring my iMac and external hard drive for repair. Places that specialize in Mac repairs and or recovering lost data due to corrupted mac hard drives get priority. Previous happy customer ratings that highlight expert technicians are a big plus.
  • Where can I find the best roast beef sandwich in New York? 

Well…now we’re hungry. 

Thank you, Kate, for being a member of Fancy Hands, and for letting us know how we're doing! 

Weed, gold, & orchids.

Today's random facts, culled from our assistants while completing requests for our clients: 

There are 736 licensed marijuana dispensaries in Colorado! Denver tops #1 with 400, follwed by Colorado Springs with 208. -Debra W. 

American Airlines has hold music. If you don't get hold music - just quiet, and you're sitting there, thinking you're on hold; you have actually been disconnected. 

This is totally different than calling correctional facilities, where you sit on hold in complete silence thinking that you've been disconnected. Nope, their hold system is one of complete silence. -Michele K. 

There are phthalates (chemicals) in pretty much everything - including spices! In searching to source phthalate-free spices for a client, I came across this article. Gah! Commence the urban homesteading and growing of my own food. -Mary B.

In comparing the two, Southeast Asia is a better region to begin a startup than China. It's an easier market for entrepreneurs to find their footing because of the opportunity gaps and the option to leverage social media. Facebook and Twitter are blocked in China. -Mandie S.

You can pay for a claim to parcels of land that are reserved for prospecting for gold and other precious metals. You can get them as small as an acre up to hundreds of acres and you get it for the whole year to dig as you please. And people actually are do well doing this type of thing! -Kelley P.

Orchids are considered to be the masters of the flowering plant kingdom because they deploy some pretty cunning and sneaky methods to trick hapless bees and birds alike into pollinating their blooms. I had no idea! I thought they were just beautiful and difficult to grow. -Hope S. 

One call, two ways.

One of our clients' favorite requests to ask of their Fancy Hands assistants? 

"Make this phone call that I've been dreading." 

Frequently, the calls will have something to do with a service account of some kind, like a cable or phone company. 

We can handle those calls in two ways. 

Example #1 - Patching You In: 

Dear Fancy Hands,

Can you call Time Warner Cable and tell them that I've been without my HD channels for two weeks now?

Please schedule an appointment for a technician to come fix it - anytime next week on a weekday morning is fine.

And please negotiate a credit for my lost service as well.

I'm around all day and I'll look out for your call - please patch me in on my cell phone and I'll verify my permission for you to speak on my behalf. 

The important things to remember when requesting a patch-in are: 

  • Please give your assistant a window of time that you'll be available for the call. 
  • Remember to answer an incoming call from a number that you don't recognize. 
  • Specify which phone number on your account (if you have more than one entered) you'd like them to call. 
  • Specify, if you'd like your assistant to make a service appointment, a few times that work for you. If you have your Google calendar linked to your account, they'll drop the appointment in for you once it's confirmed. 

Your assistant will call the company, hold until they get a real person on the line, then patch you in so that you can give the customer service representative your account information, and let them know that you authorize your assistant to speak on your behalf. 

Then you can hang up and be on your way while your assistant handles the call for you. 

Example #2 - Including Your Information:

Dear Fancy Hands,

Can you call Time Warner Cable and tell them that I've been without my HD channels for two weeks now?

Please schedule an appointment for a technician to come fix it - anytime next week on a weekday morning is fine.

And please negotiate a credit for my lost service as well.

My account number is 876-50843 and my security password is 4531. The address and phone and name on the account are all mine that you already have in your system but I am around on my cell phone today; you can patch me in if there are any further qeustions. 

We may still try to patch you in if there's a hiccup (Did you forget that the account is actually in your wife's name? They don't have any appointments next week, is the week after acceptable for you? etc.), so if you let us know in your request that you're available for a patch-in, that will help us expedite your job. Otherwise, you'll receive an email detailing the outcome of the assistant's call and they can call the company back once they've received an email answer from you. 

Whichever way you prefer to have your assistants place these kinds of calls for you, we can eliminate that nagging "man, I still haven't called the cable company" thought that comes to you in the middle of the night. 

26 Time Management Tips

Laundry.

Do you know what all of those symbols on your clothing tags mean? We didn't either, until now:

The truth about help.

Stacy-Marie Ishmael wrote this blog post about signing up for Fancy Hands: 

After years - years - of dithering, I signed up for Fancy Hands sometime around midnight on the Tuesday of a week during which my calendar, my inbox and my immune system all seemed to be conspiring against me.

It was similar to the situation that prompted me to sign up for Task Rabbit last year: three months of being silently mocked by the bag of clothes I'd earmarked for charity and which I failed, every single day, to deliver to Goodwill.

I quipped then that as I've gotten older, I've become more willing to exchange money for time. This continues to be true.

In the 19 hours or so since I coughed up for their basic service, the virtual assistants at Fancy Hands have:

App-happy.

Our team has been working towards this day for a long time...

We are thrilled to announce the official launch of the Fancy Hands iPhone app! 

You can download it for free here, and if you're new to Fancy Hands, find more information about our service here.

Ta-da!!!

The dashboard screen: 

The task screen: 

You can hold the "new request" button down and speak your request directly into your phone.

You can type out your request if you want to, but no typing is needed! 

You'll be able to refer to all of your previous tasks right on your phone. Anytime you need the information, there it is: 

Our assistants are celebrating like this: 

And our app developers are taking a little break.

TaskRabbits!

By now, you know how to use your Fancy Hands assistants. They can accomplish anything for you that can be done from a computer or a phone, including: 

  • Making reservations
  • Doing research
  • Administrative support 
  • Travel research
  • Placing phone calls
  • Scheduling 

Now our assistants can help you get things done beyond the computer and phone. 

We’ve teamed up with TaskRabbit to easily connect you with people who can help you in person. 

TaskRabbit is a website and mobile app for outsourcing errands and jobs to background-checked individuals in your community.

Here at the Fancy Hands HQ, for example, we needed coat hooks to be installed. 

So we sent a Fancy Hands assistant this message: 

Please find someone who can come today during our business hours and install six coat hooks in our wall. They should have their own drill and level and other needed tools. 

The assistant replied: 

Hello, the lowest TaskRabbit bidder for this job is Frank, a handyman with all of his own tools. He will do this job for $50 and he can be there in two hours. Does this work for you? 

And voila, we got hooks! 

When you use your Fancy Hands assistants to hire a TaskRabbit, you won’t have to create your own TaskRabbit account, and you won’t need to spend time posting your ad or viewing the various bids for your job.

We’ll take care of everything for you; just send your Fancy Hands assistant your request. Once a handful of bids have been placed on your job, your assistant will let you know what the lowest bid is and ask you to confirm the charge. 

You’ll be billed to the credit card that you used to sign up for your Fancy Hands account through our secure servers – as always when you make a purchase through our system, no one will see your credit card number.

So relax! You can now say things like: 

Please have someone pick up my alterations from Barney's and my dog from daycare and deliver them to me at my house. 

Please get the oil changed in my Batmobile, fill it with gas, and return it to the garage. 

Please send a makeup artist to my home to prepare me for my news conference.

Please book a housekeeper to come clean my home. It’s no castle, just a simple two bedroom.

TaskRabbit is currently available in:

  • Boston
  • SF Bay Area
  • San Antonio
  • Austin
  • Chicago
  • Seattle
  • Portland
  • Los Angeles
  • Orange County
  • NYC

We love finding new ways to simplify your life! 

What Did We Learn Today?

Our founder and CEO had a great idea: to start a series sharing some of the random tidbits of information that our assistants learn as they're doing research for our clients. 

We'll never share anything too specific, to protect our clients' confidentiality (of course we always get the permission of our clients before we reveal their names and actual reqeusts on the blog). 

Let's take a peek into the Assistant Files and see what they're up to today...

There are at least 14 active patents for sports bras. -Michelle F. 

Android apps are generally Java-based, and iPhone apps are generally based in Objective-C. -Mandie S. 

Coffee makes your blood vessels constrict, causing your blood pressure to raise and your heart to beat faster. Being dehydrated makes your vessels constrict. Apparently, drinking a glass of water before you drink coffee will make the coffee less effective, because the water will cause your vessels to be more open. -Briana K. 

There is a totally awesome app that measures rooms for you. No need to hand measure them anymore, you just point your phone in the direction & the app gives you the measurements... how cool is that?!! -Kelley P. 

Rockstar has discontinued their caffeinated chewing gum. -Juls N. 

All Hands.

Integration is the name of the game lately at Fancy Hands HQ.

We want to add as many options as possible for your work delegation! 

We started with Google Calendar

Next came Basecamp

Then Do.com

Then it was Evernote's turn. 

Today: Asana

The way it works is simple: 

  • Add asana@fancyhands.com to your project.
  • Pick tasks that you don't want to do.
  • Assign those task to Fancy Hands.
  • Watch as they get marked as completed.

If you haven't used Asana before and are curious about it, check out their website here, and some articles here: 

Asana Unveils Android App

Asana Unveils iPhone App

Asana Is Great & Free!

Fancy Hands is putting some magic into yours! 

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