As people get busier, time becomes a valuable commodity and people want to spend more time on their leisure and less time working on those home-based jobs.
The dilema: My new work schedule cuts me out of two days of after-school pick-ups and 'taxi' driving of children, ages 10 and 12. I need to outsource my chauffeur skills. Could I find someone to replace me for two hours, twice a week?
It's a question many of us ask as we get busier: can I pay someone to do this?
You may have seen cars scooting around Tauranga emblazoned with Driving Miss Daisy. Janice and Gerard Barnard took over the Bay of Plenty-based business in June. Janice says demand is high not just for seniors, but also for people recovering from illness and injury.
She says a taxi is cheaper for short trips, but ACC often covers transport expenses during recuperation periods.
"We have one child we pick up from school. It's the same driver every day. It's a bit more, not just a taxi service."
Janice has four drivers and four cars operating throughout the Western Bay. "We try to work out the most economical way for the client and get that bit more care."
She says trips cost a minimum of $25, so getting my kids from school to piano lessons, then on to soccer practice could cost around $50. That's beyond our budget, but Janice says her business serves up to 50 people per week. She says a transport service is more economical for older people than keeping a car if they can't drive themselves. Her drivers will help with grocery shopping or sit with clients at medical appointments.
The taxi option would be a cheaper child delivery system. Tauranga Mount Taxis estimates my five-kilometre school and lesson run would cost between $20 and $30.
Operations manager Jacqui Coffey says quite a number of parents use the service for their children. "We'll offer a discount if they're travelling regularly."
Hate oven cleaning? Sheila Logan of VIP Home Services will find someone to do it for you, starting at around $100. Residential cleaning is just one service VIP offers throughout the Bay.
The company also contracts for lawn mowing, office cleaning, gardening, window cleaning, pest control and exterior house washing.
Sheila and her husband Richard bought the business during the global financial crisis in 2008 and have grown from five franchises to 23. She says they started with 600 clients and now have about 2000. Sheila says demand stayed strong during the recession through to today.
"Services such as ours tend to be required by people because they have no personal time. Otherwise, their whole weekend is taken up by doing that kind of task ... that said, when times are good, we find that we're getting more one-off work because people are moving residences."
Select Cleaning owner Mark Gilbert also reports high demand, especially among families.
Quite often they have young children ... and they might be doing cleaning at work. They look at this sort of thing, $50 or $60 a week or fortnight - 'We can do that.' The wife is too busy and he won't do it.
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Express Business Group offers around 30 services through a network of owner-operators. Director Angie Flemming says the company entered the Kiwi market 18 months ago and has already grown to around 70 franchises.
"As people get busier, time becomes a valuable commodity and people want to spend more time on their leisure and less time working on those home-based jobs."
Express services go beyond cleaning to include exterior washing, lawn mowing and gardening, car cleaning, mobile massage and beauty, pick-up and delivery of items as well as computing and phone repairs. Angie says operators accommodate special requests and have been known to clean vomit from vehicles. She laughs, saying, "That's a little bit extra." Cleaning services start at $34.95.
Fancy a personal chef? James Broad of Cuisine Concepts in Tauranga will cater anything from a dinner party to a wedding. And while he's been approached to prepare four or five meals for a client, he says the maths doesn't stack up. "I'm almost having to charge more than restaurant prices, because I'm only cooking five portions. Twenty portions or five - it's the same amount of work." James' sample special occasion menu - a four-course meal, costs $88 per person for 70 people.
He says one of the biggest providers of ready-to-make food in New Zealand is My Food Bag. "A lot of people are knowledge poor. They think it takes a long time to cook a nice meal and costs a lot. To eat well is not expensive and doesn't take all day."
Papamoa mum Sarah Metcalfe says she started using My Food Bag to simplify meal planning for her family that includes two children, ages four and five. "I was also bored with eating meals that tried to cater for the kids and adults ... My kids have become far more adventurous eaters and I'm more relaxed as I'm more detached from the menu." My Food Bag starts at $119 per week for five meals for four people for the Bargain Box option (plus $10 delivery). The Family Food Bag costs $165 (including delivery) for five meals for four people.
NZME in late June reported My Food Bag has 35,000 customers in New Zealand and Australia and 120 per cent annual growth in number of weekly deliveries.
Jessica Amos is walking four dogs when 48 Hours meets her on the beach in Papamoa East. Jessica picks up Mel, Millie, Rylie and Steiny for regular outings. The 21-year-old, who also provides drop-in visits and overnight pet sitting, says she's quitting her barista job to focus on her business called Paws and Claws on Palm Beach.
She charges $12 for a half-hour walk, $15 for a group hour-long walk and sees 20 to 30 regular customers. "I've massively expanded in the last three months or so." She says some clients work long hours and others are amputees who rely on her to care for their pets. "I'm their pet lifeline. 'Dog Step-mum' they call me." Jessica is on-call 24 hours a day and has taken in pets during emergencies. She also provides taxi service to veterinary appointments.
Garden Magicians owner-operators Erika Dutting and Marco van der Zwaard say their business has grown into a fulltime concern through word of mouth. The couple do garden maintenance, tree pruning and say the Bay's booming housing market has fertilised their business. "If people want to put their house on the market, we can turn it from a jungle into something really beautiful to have the photo shoot," says Erika. Garden Magicians also has a regular client roster. "We do it so they can just enjoy their garden instead of seeing it as work." Prices vary, but the couple can work to a customer's budget.
If you lack the time or inclination to shop, fashion stylist and personal shopper Michelle Macdonald can help. She says one of her most popular requests is weeding through a wardrobe. "You wear 20 per cent of your stuff 80 per cent of the time. I'm about having less and wearing more." Michelle says hiring a professional stylist can save time and money.
Back to outsourcing parental chauffeur duties: for the past two weeks, other parents have brought my kids to soccer. My neighbour recommended posting a notice on Student Job Search. I have an interview with a potential babysitter who drives next week.
Unemployment drop in BOP:
Statistics New Zealand reports the Bay of Plenty's unemployment rate dropped significantly the first quarter of 2016 (Q2 numbers are due mid-month), from 7.8 per cent last year to 5.1 per cent this year. That made it the region with the lowest unemployment rate in the North Island.