As a region with a long-standing reputation of affluence, Westchester County is no stranger to hired help. However, in today’s struggling economy, the luxury of personal and home services is often the first any family would cut in order to save. So, how have these tough times affected the industry? We turned to the knowledgeable Bal Agrawal—whose company, LifeWorx, offers a variety of services, including personal assistants, nannies, and chefs—in order to find out which aspects of his company have been affected by the economic recession.
1. How did you enter the business of personal assistant services?
Experience in finding good help. I couldn’t find good help. People are always struggling to find it. You’re taking some chances with your most precious space in the world, after all. People shouldn’t have to go through so much difficulty to fish for these services; it’s always available.
2. Describe some of the services you offer.
Our objective is to make people’s lives simple. We offer the means to get things done, whether it’s through a personal assistant or someone to care for children. Making the home relaxing is a celebration, so people can hang out at home and do the things they need to do. With a small investment, you can gain peace of mind. We also give you choices, meaning that there are about numerous service workers to choose from to best fit the needs of the client. We have a total of nine services and we don’t do anything else besides those particular nine.
3. How long have you been in the business?
4. In the time you have been in this business, what are the trends of clients?
Initially, our company started out with three services. We didn’t do nanny services in the first couple years, but a lot of clients asked for them, so it was added. We began to do placements of full-time assistants as well.
5. Have these trends changed in the past couple of years during the financial crisis? If yes, how so?
Our need base is actually growing regardless of the economy. Since three-quarters of the people who have been laid off are men, more women are going back to work. As a result, they are looking for that special person who will give them peace of mind. They are looking for a clone of themselves, who have same level of care and skills to take care of their home and children.
6. In the rough economic times, have you had less clientele in any of your service offerings?
There was a drop off, but in the second quarter of this year we’ve seen an increase in use of services and an openness to spend a little more money. Everybody was window-shopping in January and February, but the fear factor is gone in the community. We have a lot of loyal clients. Because of the nature of our company, we know the clients as if they’re family members. We even talk to them on the phone for hours. Even if they leave town, our services do not end there. When they vacation at their summer homes, many people bring the nannies/assistants with them.
7. Which of the company’s stations has been more successful, Connecticut or New York?
New York. The economy took a little more effort to establish in Connecticut. We are also planning to base an office in Manhattan within one year.