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FANCY HANDS BLOG

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): 


"For virtual assistance helping me with short tasks, research, scheduling and reservations, I turn to Fancy Hands. I can’t talk about Fancy Hands without mentioning how absolutely incredible their dashboard is (I've attached my own here):

They really understand how to properly track task progress so that we as clients have all our questions answered without having to ask. I can assign tasks via email, phone or dashboard. Very very easy.

With this service you have multiple assistants, they pick up the tasks you assign, so you can’t plan on having the same person doing your job each time. Fancy Hands integrates with Google Calendar and various project management tools like Asana, Evernote and Basecamp so that you can simply authorize access rather than share private passwords.  Each job is limited to 20 minutes. So if I have a task that takes longer than that to complete, I need to assign it again, and the next person continues where the last person left off. Our fellow FC member Aaron Boerger, owner of DVI360 says that they also have an incredible iPhone app. Unfortunately I’m an Android user, so I have yet to experience its glory.

(Our Android app is now in beta-testing! Click here to sign up!) 

Tasks I have assigned:

  • Research events
  • Plan my birthday
  • Find out how to heal knee pain
  • Tons of scheduling
  • Create templates
  • Edit photos
  • Edit logo
  • Data entry
  • Get shoes repaired
  • Research case studies
  • Research statistics
  • Write overviews
  • Give video feedback for my website
  • Find merchandise
  • Shopping
  • Call clients
  • And the list goes on…

The biggest challenge to effectively outsource is being able to clearly write out instructions.  This is what I think leaves people who do dabble with outsourcing disgruntled.  How I  phrase and put together my instructions is where the majority of my time should be - and is - spent. Regularly I write out tasks step by step ‘1,2,3…’ and test it out myself to make sure I am not missing anything.  If there is a spreadsheet involved, I include the link or attachment right there with the project instructions so everything is in one place. I carefully title my task subject line so it is clear what type of project the worker will be dealing with.  More times than not, I also create a screencast using Snag It (very simple to use) showing a video visual of the instructions to compliment the ‘1,2,3s’ so there is absolutely no confusion." 

We like the "take care of yourself" option. 

(Graphics by Angie Wheeler)

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.


Fancy Hands bills itself as “assistants for everyone”. They’re a company of virtual assistants based only in the United States that can take care of almost anything for you. They’re quick, responsive and (usually) accurate. You submit tasks via your computer, mobile device, email or by telephone. Then, the team of assistants at Fancy Hands goes to work for you and updates you along the way.

So here are my tasks for my first month using Fancy Hands and the result:

  • Task #1: Please call Honda Financial services between 8a-7p CST on Monday and schedule my lease-end inspection for this Friday (4/26) after 3pm. I gave Fancy Hands all of the information needed to schedule the inspections.
  • Result: My inspection was scheduled first thing Monday morning and my assistant confirmed the appointment before I even checked my email. The inspector came to my house that Fridan and I’m all set to go.
  • Task #2: I recently started cycling to work. Please calculate approximate weight loss with biking 5 miles per day, 4 days per week. The five miles are split into two sessions of approximately the same distance. Please see attached photos for reference on today’s ride. Please calculate approximate weight loss per month in pounds. Assume a normal (mostly) healthy diet.
  • Result: My VA used a calorie calculator to find my basic calorie needs. They then calculated my average speed on the bike (generated by an app on my iPhone) to get calories burned per day by cycling. They put it all together to let me know that I’ll be losing 1.18 pounds per month (better start back on p90X).
  • Task #3: I need a 24 hour transcription service that can also type written PDF’s. Needs to be US-based and offer round the clock rush service (if needed).
  • Result: My virtual assistants made 17 calls on my behalf (they list the phone numbers called in your Fancy Hands Dashboard). I received a list of three companies that met all of my requirements.
  • Task #4: Please find me a donation center for gently used baby toys, clothes and a stroller. Preferably a place that does not re-sell but gives the items to people that need it (ie, battered women’s shelter, needy families, etc.). The donation center should be no farther than 10 miles away from zip code 90010 in Los Angeles, CA.
  • Result: At first my Fancy Hands assistant did not come through, giving me the name of a shelter that only accepts clothes and not toys, etc. I emailed my assistant back re-clarifying the original task and they updated the list with organizations that met my requirements.
  • Task #5: Please find me a couple of photographers that shoot one hour sessions at the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, CA. The total cost should be $300 or less and MUST include digital files at no additional cost. We are a family of three.
  • Result: My VA first offered to check Groupon and LivingSocial. They expanded their search and gave me a couple of reasonable options for our first family portrait.

Bottom line: These tasks would have either not gotten done or taken me a couple of hours to complete. Instead, I didn’t have to take time out of my busy day or my evening with my family to do it. It’s just worth it. There are a number of tasks they can accomplish for you like setting appointments, making reservations and coordinating with TaskRabbit to get errands run for you. I didn’t realize I needed Fancy Hands until I wrote out my own to-do list, and 50% of it was tasks I didn’t want to do.

So let’s get down to dollars and cents. What does it cost? For five tasks a month, I paid $25 bucks. Not bad considering it would have cost me a thousand dollars in mental anguish. If you need more tasks, you can upgrade your plan (which I’m doing).

This is a no-brainer. Get yourself a virtual assistant and put them to work for you. I did and I love it. If you’re interested in signing up for Fancy Hands, click this link. I get a referral fee so feel free to go directly to their web site if that’s not your bag."

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."

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! 

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! 

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. 

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:


  • scheduled five meetings for me (which involved creating calendar invitations and sending them to all participants - this service is free with their subscriptions)
  • sorted out a fairly involved but entirely solvable with a lot of Googling type-query that I've been putting off for not quite three months, but close. This is what I emailed my 'virtual assistant', whom I've dubbed (at least for the purposes of my address book) Patrick G Jeeves, to figure out: "restaurants eligible for DiningDough.com AND Either 3.5+ (preferable 4) stars or higher on Yelp OR higher than a 7.5 Explorer rating on FourSquare." I also asked that the list includ the Yelp and/or 4SQ link. That took “Ana R” all of 90 minutes.

There’s a certain amount of letting go required in all this. The list “Ana R” prepared would never be identical to the one I’d have put together…had I ever gotten around to trying.

And there’s an element of acknowledging that I cannot do everything, be everything, all the time.

If the first step is admitting you need help, the second is letting someone help you.

Stacy speaks the truth! 

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! 

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


When my wife and I were getting married, we often outsourced the research and scheduling process to Fancy Hands, my favorite virtual assistant service.

Fancy Hands is an affordable virtual assistant service aimed at the common man. It is an incredibly useful service that allows anyone to hand off repetitive or menial tasks to reliable web-based assistants.

Fancy Hands packages start at $25/mo for 5 tasks, which means you’re only paying someone $5 to do something you really don’t want to do.

The help Fancy Hands provided to us during such a hectic time was invaluable, and something we would recommend to anyone who is feeling overwhelmed while planning their wedding.

To give an example of how Fancy Hands helped us plan our wedding, here are a couple emails we sent back and forth: 

The Photo Booth

Query:

Hello!

Could I get a list of no more than 5 companies that rent out photobooths in the Denver area, with their contact information (email, phone, and url), and rental and delivery costs for a 5 hour event?

Response:

I found 3 photo booth rental companies in your area. Attached is all the information that you need. 

The Rehearsal Dinner

Query:

Hello!

I am planning the rehearsal dinner for my wedding in October and need some prices to help work it into the budget.

Could I please get a list of 3-5 restaurants in the Denver area near the Comfort Dental Amphitheater with private rooms that can accommodate 50 people, and pricing breakdowns for each one (including room rental, food, and alcohol). I have $2000 allocated in the budget for this, but the closer to $1000 you can get the happier I will be.

Response:

Here’s a list of what I found out for you – seems like McCormick and Schmicks might be the best bet and if you call them to negotiate it seems like they’re willing to work within your budget.

The DJ

Query:

Hello!

Could I get a list of around 5 wedding DJs in the Denver area? Please try to get the following information:

- Availability on October 1st 

- Hourly rate (don’t get an event rate, it isn’t descriptive enough for me)

- The DJ’s website

- Upcoming public events (so I can hear them live, if possible)

On a side note, if they have standup comedy experience, that’s a plus (although, a specific qualifier, so not at all required)

Response:

Here’s a list of the info you’re looking for.

Another wedding success! 

323 minutes saved.

"I love your service. It's changed my life, and I keep finding new ways to make it useful.”

Fancy Hands customer Chris sent this comment into our support team. Feedback like this makes our day, of course, because our goal is to simplify our customers’ lives and leave them feeling less stressed. 

Chris has made: 

  • 96 requests

His Fancy Hands assistants have: 

  • Placed 177 phone calls 
  • Spent 323 minutes on the phone 
  • Sent 10 emails

Chris allowed us to share some of his recent requests with you all.

He’s a pro when it comes to using our services to make his life easier. 

REQUEST: 

I have an old Patagonia Retro-X fleece that I love, but the zipper has recently failed and it's hard to zip/keep zipped now.

Patagonia products are supposed to have a lifetime warranty. Can you contact Patagonia and inquire about how I should go about having my fleece repaired? They don't make the Retro-X anymore, and the fleece is custom embroidered, so I'd prefer not to replace it. There is a Patagonia store in my town, so I can drop it off if necessary.

ANSWER: 

Your nearest store is: 

Patagonia Seattle 

2100 First Ave 

Seattle, Washington 98121 

Phone: (206) 622-9700 

Fax: (206) 448-2334 

Store Hours: 

Mon-Thurs: 10am-6pm 

Friday: 10am-7pm 

Saturday: 10am-6pm 

Sunday: 11am-5pm 

Zipper repairs can be done at this location without bringing in any forms from the website. Repairs take 1-2 weeks. I called and confirmed this today. 

REQUEST: 

I currently have a dentist appointment scheduled for March 5th at 8am, but now I have an all-day meeting that will conflict with that appointment.

Can you call and reschedule that appointment for a better time sometime that week or the following week? Please find a time that works on my calendar and schedule it for me.

ANSWER: 

Your appointment has been changed to Wednesday, March 6th, at 11:00 am, and I made that change on your calendar. 

REQUEST: 

Can you please give me a wake up call at 5:50 am PST / 8:50 am EST Thursday morning to make sure I'm up? It's been a late night.

ANSWER: 

I’ll be happy to call you at that time! 

REQUEST: 

Can you call Palates and Pairings and see if they have a spot available for the 2/22 7pm painting class? If so, book or put me on the waiting list immediately. If they need a credit card number, you can call me and patch me in.

ANSWER: 

I spoke with Keith and he added you to the waiting list. I gave him your phone number and will call you if something opens up. 

REQUEST: 

Can you find out what the parking laws are in my neighborhood? Someone parks in front of our house often and blocks our front gate access. I’m wondering if our rights are being violated and if there’s anything we can do about it. 

ANSWER: 

Unless you live in a zone that allows for a parking permit (and you do not), anyone is allowed to park in front of your house, so long as it's not for more than 72 hours and within 5 feet of a driveway. If they are blocking your gate access, you can call parking enforcement. Here are links to more information.

REQUEST: 

Can you call my storage center and confirm my new move-out date? I extended my contract through 1/23 and I have a 6-day grace period, and I just want to confirm when I need to be out by.

ANSWER: 

I called your storage center. They said that your contract ended yesterday, and you have until January 29 to move out. However, if you need to extend your contract, they will allow you to pay day-by-day. 

REQUEST: 

I've had some problems with my Alaska Airlines member number. Whenever I try to use my number to buy tickets, I’m told it’s invalid. Can you please contact Alaska Airlines and see what is going on? 

On a recent flight, I had the ticket agent look up my number and she couldn't find anything, so she gave me a new member number. Can you have those accounts merged? And while you're at it, see how far back I can get them to count past flights.

ANSWER: 

I called Alaska Airlines and your original mileage number is older than three years old and was discontinued for a long period of inactivity. There is no way to get it re-activated. Your new member number is active and I can call back to add any mileage credit that you’d like me to if you've flown within the past 6 months. 

Annoying tasks? Completed...painlessly! 

Valentime.

I mistakenly called it "Valentime's Day" when I was little. 

Whatever your feelings are about the holiday, it is, in fact, Valen-time.


One thing is for certain: if you have someone special in your life, you'd better do something to commemerate it.

Even those girls who say "I hate Valentine's Day, don't give me anything" would actually appreciate it if you slipped a little love note under her pillow or put a couple of low-key flowers in a vase. 

Fancy Hands is a great gift idea for your sweetheart. Who doesn't want to receive a team of assistants?

Use this coupon code: love-love-love for 50% off of your first month. 

If you don't have a Valentine, get Fancy Hands for yourself. That way, this Thursday night, you will have delegated all of those mind-numbing things you were supposed to get done to your new assistants, clearing up time for you to eat a pint of ice cream and watch movies. 

An ice-cream-and-movie-date-in-bed is pretty freaking good, whether you've got company or not. 

Fancy Hands customer Kowsik blogged about his first month with us here. He had his assistants buy a Valentine's gift for his wife. Smart, Kowsik, smart.

Here's what he wrote about his requests: 

1. Order Contact Lenses

I know you can go waste hours navigating the map-less terrain of Costco, but I’m lazy and this was the perfect excuse to try out Fancy Hands. I fired off the following email to them:

"Please order 3-boxes of 90 contact lenses (in each box) and have it be shipped to my home address so that it arrives before Friday. I’m beginning my travel on that date and would like to get my lenses before that. Brand: 1-day Acuvue Moist (With Lacreon). Find the best price you can and in case there’s a better price for ordering more boxes, let me know and I can revise my order. Attached is a picture of my prescription."

A couple of emails back and forth later, and voilá! They set me up with an account at Walgreens, got me a box of my lenses at a pretty awesome price and had it delivered to my home on time. Time I spent on emails? 5 minutes.

2. Book a transit hotel in Singapore

I was flying to India and had a 6-hour layover in Singapore. I figured might as well spend the time at the transit hotel to get some rest, washup, etc. Here’s my request:

"Attached is my travel itinerary. I have a 6 hour layover in Singapore and I would like to see if it’s possible to use the transit lounge. Find out if I can use United club pass to enter the lounge (I have 4, if that makes any difference). If that’s not possible, see if I can use United miles (part of the Star Alliance) to enter the transit lounge. If that doesn’t work, book me 1 block of 6 hours in the transit hotel."

Boom! I received back a detailed report of all the transit hotels in the airport, their operating hours, etc. Since my United miles didn’t work, I ended up paying for the transit hotel. Time I spent on emails? 5 minutes.

3. Call AT&T on my behalf

I was in the process of porting my landline over to Ooma and got hit with a question. Do I have split-line DSL? Well, I had to call AT&T to figure that out so I could safely disconnect my phone without affecting my landline. Yeah, like I was going to be put on hold. Here’s the request:

"I am thinking of porting my land line to another VoIP provider, but I need to verify that I have “stand-alone” or “dry-loop” DSL. Attached is my home address. 1. Call AT&T and verify that I can disable my land-line without disrupting my DSL. If you need additional verification information, let me know. 2. If not, find out how to decouple the land-line and the DSL and how long it would take to do this. Do they need to send people out to my home to do this or is it simply a matter of flipping a switch remotely?"

A few hours later, I got a response saying that FancyHands spoke with Chris at AT&T and that I could indeed cancel my land-line without disrupting my DSL service. Perfect! Time spent listening to AT&T’s elevator music? 0 minutes.

4. Research a refrigerator to buy

I wasn’t entirely sure about this request, but hey, doesn’t hurt to try right? I am in the market for a 36″ refrigerator (do you know of a good one?) and wanted some research done. Here was my request to them:

"I’m in the market for a 36″ French door refrigerator with the freezer drawer(s) at the bottom. I would like you to find three best options with the attached requirements. If you need clarification on any of these, don’t hesitate to ask. 1. Send me a report comparing the top three based on these requirements. 2. Also send me links to where I can find these at a great price."

My requirements included customer reviews, price range, consumer reports rating, etc. I got back three options with summary reports, link to Sears and Home Depot as well as various consumer reports. I wasn’t entirely sure about the ROI on this one, but I’m chalking this one up to learning what a good request is.

5. Hush, hush

I could write about the last one since my wife doesn’t read my blog,  but don’t want to risk that. Anyways, something special to be delivered to her since it’s that magical red week. Time I spent on email? 2 minutes.

Weddings & Whiskey & Whatnot.

Fancy Hands customer Karell has an exciting year ahead of her - she’s getting married in August! Her Fancy Hands assistants have been helping her with all of the planning and research that goes along with that, as well as with various other curiosities that have come up! Here’s what Karell has asked lately: 

We're thinking of having our friend be the officiant for our wedding ceremony that might take place in Yonkers, NY. Can you please tell me what requirements they need to be a legal officiant there? Can you especially confirm if a person ordained online is valid to be a legal officiant? 

Can you help me find a summer camp wedding venue in NY, NY, or PA? Please include prices and what's included.

Can you find some inexpensive dance parties in Brooklyn being held for New Year's Eve? Anything with a ticket price of $40 and under. 

Can you find me a good (read: NOT dive) bar near Broadway and Prince Street in Manhattan that serves picklebacks?  

Can you send me some hotels in Yonkers, New York? I need to find some places that would let me block out a set of rooms for wedding guests. They should be hotels with good ratings on Trip Advisor. Please let me know the hotel websites and their price ranges. 

Can you find me free things-to-do/events/cool things happening in NYC from the 19th through the 26th? I’m interested in music, comedy, shows, demonstrations, store openings, anything cultural, interesting or unique. 

Can you please find other places where they sell this flower girl dress? It's sold out at Nordstrom. Or, if you could, find out when it will be back in stock there. Thanks! 

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?


Sounds like you could use Fancy Hands!

Fancy Hands is a service I’ve been using for about two weeks, and I have to say, so far it’s mind-blowingly great!

Here's how it works: for $45, they gave me 15 requests. I can ask their army of US-based personal assistants to do anything that can be done remotely and isn’t illegal. Each task shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes. So you have to break larger tasks up into 15 minute increments (but in reality, they’ve spent upwards of 30 minutes on one task for me).

There is an added bonus. If you link up your Google Calendar account, they will call and schedule meetings for you for FREE. Yes, it’s true. They won’t cold call anybody for you. But they will set up appointments with your current contacts. This is only free if you link up a Google Calendar account (which is free anyway).

In addition, they can set up conference calls for you with up to 40 people. Instead of giving you a call in number, they call all the participants when its time to start. Although this is similar to scheduling a meeting, it will cost you a task.

You can email them tasks, or call them, or submit requests through the Fancy Hands website.

Here’s what they’ve done for me so far:

-Picked out and bought flowers for my wife, then arranged for them to be delivered to her office on Valentines Day.

-Identified all the architecture, engineering, and construction firms in a specific city.

-Identified every daycare center within five miles of my new house and called me when they had the list (they identified 15).

-Called all 15 daycares and interviewed them with a list of questions I provided. They provided me the results in an excel sheet.

-Arranged tour appointments on a specified day with seven of the daycares. Added these to my calendar (FREE).

-Arranged a Skype meeting with Tim Klabunde. Added this to my calendar (FREE).

-Made edits to a four-page word document.

-Called Cannon’s service repair center to find out if it was cheaper to get my SLR camera lens fixed or replaced.

-Found pricing for travel and hotel for different scenarios in which I travel to Indiana.

In all, they made 42 calls on my behalf and saved me a lot of time. They didn’t royally screw anything up. They didn’t drop any balls. They didn’t roll their eyes at me. They didn’t question me. They just did what I asked.

And guess what, I still have six requests left!

Most tasks were turned around in a couple of hours. Sometimes the appointments took a day or two to set up.

I paid for this out of my own pocket, just to check it out. And I’m glad I did. Even if I have to pay for it myself, I think it’s worth it.

You don’t need to be a Vice President or Director to use this service. It’s for anyone at any position level that could use some help. That’s what I like about it.

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: 


"About 4 months ago I signed up for Fancy Hands, a virtual assistance service that saves me time! I can give them any task over the phone or email (so easy) and it is done soon after. The service charges per month based on the number of tasks you would like. I did a year (great discount) and have already more than paid for the subscription with the things they have done for me. Below is a list of a couple things they have done lately:

-Dealt with warranty department at Cuisinart to get me a new single-brew server after my old one stopped working.

-Called Comcast to get me money off my bill since I had problems with my service.

-Researched and found availability for last-minute dog boarding.

-Found me an iPhone 5… called all Apple stores and waited on hold to check availability.

-Dealt with warranty department to get a new LED strip for fish tank.

-Found and ordered replacement parts for a curling set.

-Dealt with warranty department at Lexmark to get me a new Printer after my old one stopped working.

-Found and ordered wireless component for Blu-ray player.

-Searched nationwide for 2 additional matching chairs to a dining room set.

-Searched for Dryer Vent cleaners (well-reviewed) in my Mom's area.

-Provided a complete list of essentials for a hike down the Grand Canyon.

-Booked reservations (scheduling something in my calendar doesn't count towards tasks).

And so many things I am forgetting.

Basically, they have saved me time and money, therefore increasing my quality of life.

Thank you, Fancy Hands!"

Thank you, Zach, for writing about your experience!

We're so glad to hear that your quality of life has improved as a customer. That's our goal. 

Thumbs Up.

Have you noticed these "hand-y" icons next to your completed tasks? 


If you're happy with a task, clicking on the thumbs up is a great way to let your assistant know that you're pleased.

It's the equivalent of tipping them for their work - they're rewarded with bonus points in our internal system. 

Also, if you're unhappy with an assistant's response to one of your requests, don't be shy - let them know! 

We hope you never have a bad experience with your Fancy Hands, but if you do - boom. Let your wrath rain down with the thumbs down option! Ha - okay, just kidding about the wrath part...but do give that a click, then reply and let your assistant know what could be better.

Just as with a full-time employee, sometimes a job isn't completed to your satisfaction the first time around. Your feedback helps your assistant serve you better, and it gives them a second chance to take a crack at making you happy. 

If that doesn't work, please feel free to email a customer service manager at support at fancy hands dot com. 

We love getting emails from you. Check out these happy folks: 

"I think Mandie S. deserves some type of commendation! She was the best at helping me deal with the death of an employee. It was one of my first Fancy Hands requests, and thanks to her, I'm going to be a long time customer. Let me know if there is anything that you or I can do to put a smile on Mandie S.' face." -Patrick  

"Thank you to Audrey F., who tried to cancel a couple of things for me that I've been avoiding for a long, long time. Thank you to Michelle J. who found the perfect birthday presents for my husband. Thank you to Layne M. who has provided a soundtrack (viewtrack?) of sorts to my latest NaNoWriMo attempt. You're all awesome! Thank you so much being there to do the things that I don't have the time or patience to do myself." -Carla 

"Connie O. saved the day for me! She placed 7 different phone calls to post offices looking for a package of mine that had the wrong zip code on it and tracked it down! Without her, it would have been sent back to Singapore and I would have spent another three weeks waiting for re-delivery." -Juliet  

Yay! We love to make your life suck less!  

 

Mother's Helper.

Fancy Hands client Marley is a busy lady. She’s a nanny for big family in Los Angeles. The father in that big family just so happens to be a very successful actor and producer. Famous; that’s what I’m getting at, ya'all. He’s super freaking famous. 

So on top of the high stress that comes with the responsibility of caring for children, Marley also has to dodge paparazzi and fans like Frogger danced between eighteen-wheelers. 

Fancy Hands works really well for someone like Marley, who has research needs on a regular basis, but doesn’t have the time to sit down at the computer for hours a day poking around. 

Here are some requests that she logged with Fancy Hands recently. 

"I’m looking for a variety of activities in or near Maui, HI. Looking for outdoor activities, indoor activities, kid-friendly restaurants and things that shouldn't be missed. We’re traveling with kids from ages 3-9."

"Can you help me find the best-reviewed companies that allow you to make your own holiday cards online? We’d like a folded card with room for at least 4 photos (preferably more)."

"Can you send me upcoming concerts, plays, shows, and special events for children in the Los Angeles area? I’d love to have a handy list of what’s coming up in the next month or two to use for planning purposes."

"I’m planning a birthday party for a 3-year old with a “Yo Gabba Gabba” theme. I’m having a hard time finding places to buy party supplies that are still current and not out of stock. Can you help? Also, I’m looking for a company that can provide a dressed up character of “Muno” in the Los Angeles area. Can you locate that?"

 "Can you help me find some updated medium-to-long hairstyles for women? I just don’t ever have time to look into stuff like this and I need a change that’s in style right now."

Our Fancy Hands love to help Marley’s hands, because hers are full of children! 

Awkward phone calls.

True story: when Fancy Hands founder & CEO Ted Roden needs a status update from an employee and he's in the mood to be funny, he has a Fancy Hands assistant call them and ask them for it. 

Our engineer got this call this morning: "Hi Kurt, it's Mandie. When will the new version of the iPhone app will be ready to test drive? Thanks."

Delegation at its finest, and laughs all around the office.

Meet Lena Service: Assistant

It must be fate that Lena’s last name is Service. She’s one of our most beloved assistants, well known for her attention to detail and her desire to go above and beyond for our clients. She consistently receives a “thumbs up” feedback. Here are some tasks she’s recently received high praise for: 

“Find a specific pair of jeans for my girlfriend that I’ve not been able to locate.“

Lena tracked down this highly desired denim for a customer by calling multiple stores across the country. When they were located, she worked with the client to get the jeans ordered and shipped in time for them to be wrapped and waiting under the Christmas tree for one lucky lady. 

“Set a lunch with Mr. Williams somewhere that works for both of our locations and schedules.”

Did you know that your Fancy Hands assistant can set appointments and put them in your calendar for you? This is one of those requests that sounds simple but can actually take a lot of work and time to complete. 

The above request, for example, ended up with Lena sending 27 emails. She found openings in our client’s calendar, worked with Mr. Williams to find a coordinating opening in his calendar, found a restaurant that was well reviewed and convenient for both men, confirmed the appointment with Mr. Williams, and put it in our client’s calendar. 

…then our client had a conflict come up and asked her to reschedule the lunch. Lena started the whole process over, happily. 

“I want some juices from the organic juice place in my town delivered to me. Here are the flavors I want, can you figure that out for tomorrow?”

Turns out the eco-friendly folks at the organic juice place deliver by bicycle only, and the client lived out of their delivery range. Lena arranged for overnight shipping, so the juices were on the client’s doorstep the next morning, just in time for a blueberry flax-seed, hemp-oil, tofu-infused breakfast treat. 

“My credit card keeps getting charged a monthly fee for something that I don’t think I ever signed up for – can you sort this out and have it stopped?”

When our clients need things handled with their private accounts, our assistants can patch them in briefly so that customer service can verify their identity and confirm that the assistant is authorized to speak on their behalf. 

Lena was successful in getting this client ‘s recurring charges canceled, and she scored them a $330 refund for 8 months of inaccurate fees. Lena made 5 phone calls for this task, and spent a total of 54 minutes on the phone.

A little background info about Lena: 

WHERE DO YOU LIVE?

Yacolt, WA ... Really the middle of nowhere!

WHAT ARE YOUR INTERESTS?

Reading, writing, art, computers, languages, law, accounting and FASHION!

WHAT ARE YOU GOOD AT?

Hunting someone down on the internet. My skills are lethal!

WHAT'S THE MOST MEMORABLE REQUEST YOU'VE SEEN FROM A CUSTOMER?

We get fashion related requests from a client, asking for inspiration. I love that!

WHO IS YOUR SPIRIT ANIMAL?

A cat...Taco, the wonder cat...

WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?

My two children - how smart and amazing they both are! Followed by my ability to retain and recite information. 

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THE 16 YEAR OLD VERSION OF YOURSELF?

Enjoy school - you'll miss the socializing during lunch times. The real world is harder than you think. And take the lapidary course that you were offered!

Take note: don’t pass out around Lena. She will…play poker on you!?!

Work must get done!

You don't want to do the work, but the work must get done! 
Fancy Hands customers are busy people, and they’ve simplified their lives by using our service. 
Our assistants handle those annoying little to-dos that pile up so easily.
Check out some recent requests that our clients asked their Fancy Hands assistants to tackle. 
TASK #1: FIND NEARBY RETAIL LOCATION AND CONFIRM INVENTORY
REQUEST: 
Where can I buy a medium-sized white lab coat for $23 or less near my apartment? 
Looking for some place within 1 mile from me.  
Need to buy it today or tomorrow.
RESPONSE: 
OK Uniform is located 1.2 miles from you. 
They have a men's full length lab-coat available for $21.98. 
I called to confirm, and they have a medium in stock. 
I’ve listed the address, phone number, and hours of operation below. 
Regards, 
Angela S. 
TASK #2: ARRANGE EXCHANGE OF BROKEN ITEM   
REQUEST: 
I have a Nike Fuel Band. It seems broken. 
Here are the details of what the error message is…
Can they send me a new one? Or can I exchange it at a Nike store here in NYC?
RESPONSE: 
You have a new Nike Fuel Band waiting for you at the Nike store closest to you. 
That’s located at 21 Mercer Street, New York, NY 10013. 
The store phone number is 1-212-226-5433. 
Just bring the old one along with a valid ID. 
Your reference number with is 121114-016623. 
If you have any questions, just let me know!
- Michelle J.
TASK #3: MAKE A DOCTOR’S APPOINTMENT
REQUEST: 
Can you make me a Dr.'s appointment?
I have a head cold that I can't seem to shake. 
Here’s the phone number.  I’m a new patient. 
 
RESPONSE: 
I booked you an appointment for tomorrow at 2:45pm. 
I called and spoke with Ashley. She entered you into the system. 
You will be seeing Dr. Jamie Morrison.
Regards,
Joanna F.
TASK #4: RESEARCH TWITTER ACCOUNTS   
REQUEST: 
Please find Twitter names for all of these people. 
http://www.inktalks.com/people/speakers 
http://www.inktalks.com/people/staff
Send back to me links to their Twitter profiles. 
RESPONSE: 
Please see the attached Google doc of all the Twitter accounts that I could find. 
Best,
Julie B.
TASK #5: MAKE A PLAYLIST  
REQUEST: 
Please search all of my You Tube videos and make a playlist, 
starting with the earliest one I posted, of all my "for NAME" videos from India.
Call the playlist "Video Requests in India 2011".
RESPONSE:
Here is the link to the playlist that you requested.
All the best, 
Katie S. 
TASK #6: RESEARCH PEOPLE
REQUEST: 
Can you send me 10 unique news articles about these art dealers? 
Specifically I am most interested in any paintings that they have been involved with the sale of.
RESPONSE: 
Please find the attached articles that mention your requested art dealers below. 
Regards,
Mandie S.
It's a win/win! 
Fancy Hands assistants got the opportunity to work, and our clients moved this stuff from "ugh" to "done".

Small

3

Requests a month
$6/request
-20%

Medium

5

Requests a month
$6/request
-20%

Large

15

Requests a month
$5/request
-12%

XL

30

Requests a month
$5/request
-4%

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