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Happy camper.

Fancy Hands client Michelle, who works under the name Bombchelle (cute, right?) wrote a great article about how she's using our service.

I especially love one point that she makes about being specific with requests. The customers who click with us the most understand that Fancy Hands assistants, just like an employee that you would speak to in person, need details from you about exactly what you are hoping to achieve. They can then take that information and run with it to deliver exactly the results that you want!

The more general you are with your request, the more you're leaving it to individual interpretation - and we all know that each person has their own way of seeing things and doing things. You empower your assistant to do exactly what you want by being very specific! 

Here's Michelle's piece: 

You know how sometimes, you put off doing something that you know you need to do, or that you know is a really effing good idea? And you do that for ages, even though you know once you actually sit down and do it you’ll be kicking yourself for not doing it? 

That’s pretty much how I feel about Fancy Hands.

I started using them about 2-3 weeks ago and since then, I’ve heartily recommended them to other people at least three times…and I still get a thrill when I realize “OH WAIT, this is something Fancy Hands can handle for me!”

See, in my experience, there’s this weird niggly gray-area of tasks that are delegatable, but kind of a pain in the ass to delegate. Tasks that are so small that I feel weird handing them off to my assistant Tina, or that fall into more of a life-administrative area than a business-administrative area. Or sometimes, just questions I need a quick answer on.

Enter: Fancy Hands

The gist: they have a super-streamlined UI and a team of assistants working behind the scenes. It takes about 3-5 minutes, tops, to submit a task (which you can do by email, phone, from the website, or from their smartphone app). And then, they get to work and you go back to doing the important things in your day. The turnaround time is remarkably fast in most cases, to boot.

So far, for me, they’ve:

  • Called the IRS & sat on hold for me, patching me in when they actually got someone on the line
  • Rescheduled a doctor’s appointment and then called to verify it
  • Refilled prescriptions and called back to verify them until they were actually refilled (apparently, what happens is that my last name was misspelled in the pharmacy database – sigh)
  • Done apartment research for me (which I could have spent 3-4 hours on alone – with their help, I narrowed it down to two options with about 15 minutes worth of work)

That’s more of the life-type tasks I’ve sent them – here’s an example of a more business related one:

“Okay, I need some payment options researched. For each of these below, I’d like to know:

  • -what their fee structure is
  • -what their application fee is (if any)
  • -what the application process entails
  • -which 1-2 seem to come the most highly recommended for entrepreneurs delivering digital products

The payment options are:

  • Google Wallet
  • Stripe
  • Authorize.net
  • Paymill
  • SagePay

Thank you!”

I had an answer within an hour. I’ve had them do some other research-related tasks for me too and been fairly impressed with the results.

As of writing, they’ve spent 319 minutes on the phone for me – which is damn-sure a better deal than me spending those minutes on the phone. (I signed up for the $45/month plan, and I still have 6 tasks left this billing month.)

Other features they have that you might be interested in:

  • Integration with Basecamp so that you can assign tasks from directly within Basecamp
  • They can make purchases on your behalf (So, for example, you can say “Find me a digital camera with these specs in this price range, with the highest average customer reviews; once you’ve found it, purchase it and have it shipped to this address.”)
  • Appointment scheduling/calendar wrangling is free. And they integrate with Google calendar. When I had them reschedule my doctor’s appointment, they automatically put in the new appointment without me even having to ask. *fans self* 
  • And it’s not just me benefitting – my clients are winning from this arrangement, too. The other day I was on Skype with one of my clients who was talking about how she needs to find a free or low-cost WordPress theme for a side project she’s working on, but she’s really busy preparing for a market this weekend. I tasked it out to FancyHands; I had results for the client within an hour of sending in the task (for what breaks down to $3 for the task – which is better than either of us could have done).

(In the interest of full disclosure: I’ve had nothing but a fabulous experience using FancyHands so far & I plan on keeping using them, so all links to them in this post are my referral link – which gets you 50% off your first month and gives me account credit.)

Why FancyHands is a borderline must-have for busy biz-owners:

It trains you to be really specific.

This is something I consistently see people struggle with with they start outsourcing. Instead of saying “Yes, I need a list of 3-5 WordPress themes within this price range, with these features, that have average user reviews of four stars or higher”, you say “I need some WordPress themes that’ll work for this project”. Which, depending on how much you’ve explained the project to whoever you’re delegating to, can work – but is more likely than not to just create a mess as they spend more time than necessary researching a ton of different options, since they don’t have the details & constraints they need to do a great job.

It gets you in the outsourcing/delegating mindset.

You start to see all of the little time leaks in your day that distract you from what you’re actually meant to be doing. Once you start handing them off, it’s addictive – I know for me it’s made a huge difference in the way I feel day to day and removed a burden of stress/annoyance that I didn’t even know was there. (Plus, on the more woo-woo side of things, I think it’s excellent training for the rest of your life – learning to ask for what you need, specifically, and then getting it. It’s an experience than many of us often-overworked biz owners aren’t used to, and it can definitely shift things & open them up for you.)

It frees up both you & your team’s time + energy.

Aside from it freeing up your time, it can also free up your team’s time. Delegating the little niggly gray-area things to Fancy Hands lets your assistant, or your coder, or your project manager spend their time on projects & tasks that’ll have a much bigger impact on your business, and helps to keep everyone in their zone of genius – not just you. Which is something that your team will appreciate, trust me.

That’s been my experience with Fancy Hands – I’ve loved it so much I can’t stop gushing about it, and I really think it’s a valuable tool that I’d love to see more biz-owners using. Have you given it a whirl yet?

(Note: In the interest of attempting to be unbiased, even as a happy customer, I did some research on employee treatment/wages on FancyHands to see if there was anything negative that came up that was worth including in this article – I couldn’t find anything.)

Path to Productivity.

Joel Kelly, an enthusiastic client of ours and one of our favorite Tweeters, wrote this article on Medium and we'd like to share a part of it:

 

My path to productivity

Delegation Salvation.

Espree Devora, founder of SaveBusinessTime.com and Fancy Hands client, wrote a great post on The FoundersCard blog about all of the ways she delegates. Here's what she has to say about Fancy Hands (I added two of my own notes, in parenthesis and without italics): 

Worth It.

It warms our hearts when people blog about their experience as a Fancy Hands client. Here's what Keith Korneluk has to say:

"Quick. Make a list of the top ten things you have to accomplish this month but have absolutely no desire to start or finish them. Now take that list and circle the tasks that could be accomplished if you were a Hollywood celebrity with a personal assistant. Got the list?

Great.

Guess what? You can have that personal assistant working for you without the burden of paying them thousands of dollars and selling your underwear to TMZ. Because your assistant is in the cloud.

Enter Fancy Hands.

Sanity, reclaimed.

Check out what Amanda Steinberg, CEO of Daily Worth, has to say about Fancy Hands: 

"When it comes to work-life balance, it’s not just about making time for each, but making sure that both to-do lists (for work and home) are getting done. Not only am I the CEO of DailyWorth, I'm a divorced, now single mom of two, and I spend at least 10 hours a week commuting between my home in Philadelphia and DailyWorth’s main office in New York City. So my mind is constantly racing with things I need to do at home.

In a recent week, those included:

  • Make a dentist appointment for my 6-year-old son to replace a tooth spacer.
  • Buy same child a raincoat (the coats I saw in a local store were $40-$60! No way).
  • Replace the t-ball hat he lost.
  • Plan my business trip to L.A.
  • Find a small, cheap beach rental on Jersey shore for August.
  • Find the most cost-effective way to frame my new Michael Yoder painting.

These thoughts ping-pong in my brain with no consistent repository or time to deal with them.

So when I heard about Fancy Hands, a $25-per-month subscription service to help me research and do anything from a computer, I jumped on it.

Fancy Hands’ homepage explains the problem/solution so simply: “Do what you love. We’ll do the rest.” It’s a website and iPhone app that allows you to delegate any task that can be done over the phone or computer to a team of assistants on-call throughout the nation. They provide a simple dashboard where you can communicate with your virtual assistant, and manage the tasks you assigned.

Between conference calls, I rapidly banged out the first request:

Call dentist Dr T****** in Philadelphia to find out how much my son’s tooth spacer costs to replace (it fell out again!) and book an appt any Friday morning after two weeks out.

The response, within the hour: Dear Ms. Steinberg: The doctor you mentioned doesn't exist (oops! I'd given them the wrong name!) and I need your son’s name, please, to make the appt.

So basically, I'd given her zero helpful information. But after a quick email reply with clarifications, they had what they needed and the appointment was booked. Done. I didn't have to wait on hold, leave a message, follow-up, or even add the event to my calendar. (They do that, too.)

It’s been a huge relief to be able to check this off my to-do list. And it didn’t stop there. My virtual assistant not only found me the most cost-appropriate raincoat for my son, she researched discount codes as well. And the list went on.

For me, having a virtual assistant was less about saving time than saving myself from feeling guilty. Truthfully, so much of this stuff doesn’t get done for weeks -- or at all -- and it weighs on me. (It also saved me money--nearly $40 on the discounted rain jacket alone, compared to the price tags I'd seen earlier in the store.)

I still plan on hiring an actual assistant, like a recent college grad, in our Philadelphia office in the near future (know anyone?). But for the small stuff that eats away at my conscience, I’m sticking with Fancy Hands.

I wonder if they’ll help me manage my entire to-do list. Maybe I’ll ask them to."

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! 

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:

Change is hard. Stress is harder.

Gabriel Weinberg is the CEO & Founder of DuckDuckGo, an angel investor, and the co-author of Traction

He wrote this blog post about his experience as a Fancy Hands client: 

"I find myself recommending virtual personal assistants to people quite frequently (among other services). I personally use Fancy Hands. (No, they did not ask me to write this post.)

I don't think many people I've recommended it to have converted, however.

It's a way of life change, and those are hard to make. 

"What do use it for?" is the standard question. To answer that question more effectively, here are my last twenty tasks (abridged):

  • Find me a high-quality black yoga mat on Amazon Prime.
  • Find me replacement hardware for this Restoration Hardware table.
  • Schedule an oven repair given these error codes.
  • Make dinner reservations tonight.
  • Schedule our regular painter to come out and give us an estimate.
  • Schedule our car to go in for a recall and mirror replacement.
  • Find out why our corporate filing never went through.
  • Find the gross profit margin, revenue and # of users for a variety of tech companies.
  • Buy us a membership at a local kids museum.
  • Sign us up for sewer insurance.
  • Help me find an interview of Ira Glass interviewing Terry Gross.
  • Get a kick-plate for our new fridge, which was missing from the packaging.
  • Research co-working spaces in Brooklyn given some parameters.
  • Figure out how to replace the glass on a phone cheaply.
  • Figure out how to replace a custom wood vent in our house.
  • Schedule our other car to go in for a battery and radio fix.
  • Find a place to donate some specific furniture to.
  • Schedule our regular electrician to come out.
  • Fix a messed up order with Verizon FIOS.
  • Schedule a shower door company to come out and give us an estimate.

These are all from the last six weeks. We just remodeled our basement so there is a bit more house stuff, but generally I use it mostly for:

Scheduling (reservations, estimates, etc.).

Web research (purchases, lazyweb, etc.).

Making any phone calls possible I don't have to make (orders, support, etc.).

Arranging travel (booking, what to do, etc.).

Fancy Hands also has a common requests page.

If you're on the fence, I suggest buying an unlimited plan somewhere for a year. That will really commit you up-front and force you more than otherwise to make that way-of-life change."

We agree with Gabriel about way-of-life changes being difficult to get started.

We find that our biggest hurdle as a service provider is to

  1. provide our new clients with as much information as possible so that they totally understand how we can simplify their lives, and 
  2. get new clients to actually use the service once they sign up. 

It's frustrating to join Fancy Hands, pay for it, and not use it. 

So sign up...AND jump in! 

Fancy mention.

You might know him from Childrens Hospital, Hot Tub Time Machine, or The Daily Show. I know him because we worked together on an Oscar-award winning film called What Happens In Vegas

OK, fine, it didn't win an Oscar. But some guy named Oscar saw it, and he said it was pretty funny. 

Anyway, Rob Corddry is known for being productivity and tech-obsessed, so when I started working at Fancy Hands, I knew he'd love to hear about us. 

Rob's wife and assistant have really enjoyed being able to outsource their busy work to us.

In an interview with Brett Terpstra, Rob explains how much Fancy Hands has helped. 

Brett said that it sounds like the type of stuff that our company does are the things that he asks his own wife to do. 

That's a great takeaway for all of you husbands out there...if you're leaving the unpleasantness of life for your wife to handle for the both of you, imagine how happy she'd be if you gifted her with a membership to Fancy Hands. 

A membership to Fancy Hands? As little as $25 a month. 

Harmony in the home? Priceless. 

(Interview with Rob Corddry and Brett Terpstra of Systematic -

We're mentioned at 45:30) 

 

Good Grooming.

Gone are the days when women would handle all of the wedding planning and men would just show up at the altar.

In today's world, weddings require teamwork. 

Fancy Hands client Bellowser was a groom who got in on the action, and he added Fancy Hands to his party planning team. Our assistants can handle all of the research and legwork that you don't want to do or don't have the time to do.   

He wrote about his experience here

The Secret.

Paula Rizzo loves making lists. She writes a blog called "The List Producer", and she wrote this review of Fancy Hands: 

Even very productive people have trouble getting everything done throughout the day. The secret is being able to delegate. If you can take something off your plate so you can work on something else that you’re better at, you will be much more efficient.

Enter…the assistant. I know you’re thinking, “I can’t afford an assistant!” I know because I said the same thing until I found FancyHands.com. It’s basically a virtual assistant service. So the assistants, who are located all over the United States, will do any task that they can perform using their computer or phone. They won’t pick up your laundry. but they’ll find the best service to come pick it up for you and deliver it back to you when it’s done. I’ve known about them for quite some time but never tried them out until now. I must say…I’m impressed.

Here’s my list:

PROS:

  • It’s really cool to say you have an assistant (My friends think I’ve officially “made it”).
  • It’s simple to set up and get started. You can email your tasks or submit them right through the website.
  • There’s a pretty quick turn around depending on the task (One of my tasks took a few days though, because my assistant was waiting for a call back.)
  • There are different plans to meet your needs depending on how many tasks you’ll need help with throughout the month.
  • As Leah Busque from TaskRabbit.com says “just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. She’s right.
  • FancyHands.com frees up tasks on my to-do list so I can do other things.
  • They have a referral service so if you get friends to join you get money towards the following month’s tasks. You can cancel whenever you want.

CONS:

  • The tasks don’t roll over from month to month, so use them or lose them!
  • There’s no app….yet. I heard it’s coming, though. (Yes, it is!) 
  • You never get to meet or talk to your assistant other than via email — so it does feel a bit disconnected. You may get a different person every time (although you can request to get the same person but it doesn’t always work out).                  

Overall, I’m pretty in love with the service.

I’m planning a trip to Italy next month and I’ve used a lot of my tasks for help finding hotel reviews and destination information.

I’ve also used it to find my husband a guitar teacher and a place to donate my old clothes!

The possibilities are endless, really. Try it out and let me know what you think.

Mind-blowingly great.

Architectural/engineering/construction blogger & podcaster Matt Handal shared his love for Fancy Hands: 

One of the biggest challenges many marketers have is too many things to get done but not enough time to get them done in. And it’s often the “little things” that clutter our to-do list, like setting up appointments, editing word documents, researching information, etc.

But what if you could get just one more task completed per day? How much more productive would you be? How much more valuable would you be to your organization?

Superfan.

Kai Davis is a Fancy Hands power user. Check out his blog post that sings our priases: 

"It was 9am and I had just climbed onto a train to San Sebastian, Spain, with the clothes on my back, with no place to stay and no clue what was waiting for me in San Sebastian.

Three hours earlier, my host family in Madrid woke up to the sound of me running out the door, saying ‘I’m headed to San Sebastian, I’ll be back on Thursday’, with nothing but my iPhone and the clothes on my back. I didn’t even know where I’d be sleeping that night, but I had a secret weapon up my sleeve: The Virtual Assistant service Fancy Hands. 

Just today, I’ve used Fancy Hands to:

-Confirm the hours of a restaurant and make a reservation for later in the week

-Find an auto detailing shop in Honolulu that offers pick-up / drop-off and book an appointment

-Call a medical provider, confirm an appointment, and reschedule it for later in the week

Fancy Hands has been the magic in my pocket for 18+ months. I use them more than any other online service because they — constantly — help me waive goodbye to stress and spend more time on the things I love.

When I had a quick question, I emailed Fancy Hands. (‘Hey, when is the production of Wicked in Honolulu until? How much are tickets?’)

When I needed to book an appointment, I emailed Fancy Hands. (‘Can you call my chiropractor (541.555.5555) and book an appointment for Thursday, Friday, or Saturday? I dropped a jar of Apple Sauce and pulled my back. I know, I’m a goofball.’)

When I was researching an upcoming trip, I emailed Fancy Hands. (‘What hostels are on the North Shore of Oahu?)

When I ripped my favorite pair of pants, I emailed Fancy Hands, and they tracked down a similar replacement style and called the local Gap to confirm they were in stock!

On The Train to San Sebastian

At 9am, I pulled out my iPhone and fired off two quick emails to Fancy Hands:

'Hey Fancy Hands, I just jumped onto a train to San Sebastian. Can you put together a summary of tourist activities I should check out? (museumes, art galleries, aquariums, and hikes are preferred). Oh, and are there any Vegan Restaurants in town?'

'Hey Fancy Hands, I’m headed into San Sebastian. Can you send me links to the three hostels in town with the highest reviews? Thanks!'

90 minutes later, two Fancy Hands assistants sent me back an itinerary for my trip in San Sebastian. Vegan restaurants, hostels and hotels, and tourist sites to see. Everything I’d need for a wonderful trip was there.

When I headed back to Madrid, Fancy Hands put together an itinerary of the sites I should try to see during my last few days in Spain.

I love Fancy Hands because it helps me spend time on the things I want to be doing — exploring a new country, writing, spending time with friends — by taking care of the small tasks that pop up throughout the day."

__________________________________________________________________

Kai wrote a guide book on how to best use Fancy Hands that you can download for free through his website. Why would he do this? Becuase if you sign up for our services through his link, he gets a referral credit. Kai's a smart guy. 

We provide all of our customers with referral links so that they can receive credits when their friends sign up. Word of mouth is a powerful tool in the startup world, and nothing makes us happier than knowing that our customers are so satisfied with our service that they'd recommend us to others! 

Help with the hustle.

 

Our customer Zach Silver wrote a blog post and titled it: 

"Fancy Hands – a service I couldn’t live without."

Zach integrated Fancy Hands assistants into his life, and it has made everything easy breezy in a world of creezy.

('crazy' doesn't rhyme there, just go with it, k?)

Here's what he has to report: 

Fancy, Indeed!

Patricia Marx gave Fancy Hands a little shout-out in the latest issue of The New Yorker.

What happens now? Should we buy tickets to the opera or the ballet? Should Ted start wearing those professor-type elbow patches on his blazers? I mean, his hoodies? 

Hmm. Well, whatever it means, we're excited! 

Favorite Things.

Andrew Montalenti, CTO at Parse.ly added Fancy Hands to

The Young Entrepeneurs Council's list of 

14 Favorite Startups of 2012. 

Andrew says, 

"I found myself bogged down on a daily basis with research and administrative tasks, especially as my startup “grew up” into a full-fledged company. We considered hiring a personal assistant, but never felt we could justify a full salary for that role given our company’s small size. FancyHands fit the need for personal assistants perfectly. I was able to delegate not just business-related tasks, but even personal ones that would normally occupy my time. Since starting with the service just last month, they have already made ~60 phone calls on my behalf and spent nearly ~4 hours on the phone with vendors, customers, etc. This especially helped me when I was out of the office on travel and needed to coordinate meetings for the future. I also find it makes me more thoughtful about delegation."

No mention of raindrops on roses or whiskers on kittens, but we're sure he likes those things, too.

Cool like Fonzie.

Dice named Fancy Hands one of "New York City’s 10 Coolest Startups"

"Outsourcing the messy details of our busy lives has a become a hot trend, and Fancy Hands helps with a team of personal assistants standing by to handle your chores or your schedule for a flat monthly fee as low as $25 (for five tasks). Use your assistant to order lunch, buy tickets, manage your calendar (a free feature) or research vetted service providers who will fix your plumbing or paint your bedroom at discounted prices." -Don Willmott

Thanks to Don and Dice for being in the know and spreading the word! 

Customer appreciation.

"...delivering service so WOW that I have to write about it here."

Our assistants logged 536 minutes on the phone for Dennis Yu in the last three months. 


Read about how we've helped him - and how we could be helping you, too - right here. 

One of the most promising startups on the globe!

We can't get much happier over here. 

She knows what she's talking about, obviously - check out her last name!

Outsource Your Stress.

NY Magazine knows that our Fancy Hands can tackle your holiday to-do list. 

Read about it here
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