SUTTONS BAY — When the open road calls, old fence posts can wait.
Better still, let someone else wrestle the posts out of the ground and dispose of them.
Audrey Chambers, of Suttons Bay, turned her husband Jim’s honey-do list over to Luxus Concierge, a full-service company owned by real estate broker Jennifer LaCharite and her son, Jake Jackson.
“Summer is such a short window and we really like to ride our (motorcycles),” Chambers said. “This frees us up and the prices are reasonable because they do have senior prices.”
Senior services are just part of the offerings at Luxus, which opened three weeks ago. Everything from errand services and marina delivery are also on the menu as are property maintenance, moving and away-from-home services.
Some recent tasks at the Chambers home included moving a 200-pound daybed, changing blades on a riding lawnmower, helping to install an air conditioning unit, picking up new furniture and hauling away the old items.
“I was very, very pleased,” Audrey Chambers said. “I decided to have them do my honey-do list rather than my husband. There isn’t a lot of work we can do by ourselves.”
Audrey Chambers said senior services are available in Leelanau County, but it couldn’t check off all the items on her list — like removing the fence posts the couple put in more than a decade ago, when they had horses.
“We’re both in our 60s,” she said. “We can’t pull out those fence posts anymore.”
LaCharite first came up with the idea of a personal concierge service from her own personal experience.
As a single mother working and going to school in 2000, LaCharite had a small window of time to spend with her son. She didn’t want to spend it picking up dry cleaning or running to the grocery store.
“I was a single parent, working 40 hours, and I was in school full-time at online college, also about 40 hours a week,” LaCharite said. “I had to hire someone, I needed help. I hired someone to come in, whether it was to do my grocery shopping or iron clothes. She ended up being my nanny as well.
“That allowed me to spend time with my son. I only had a small block of time to spend with him from when I got off work. I got home between 5:30 and 6 o’clock and I had until 8, 9 o’clock at night to spend with him and I didn’t want to spend the time doing all of that stuff. That allowed me to spend more time with my baby.”
LaCharite, who has 18 years of experience in the real estate industry, opened her own firm last year, LaCharite Properties. She wanted to launch Luxus at the same time, but spent time putting lists of services together “and working on a business plan.”
Luxus Concierge currently has three employees, including her son, who turns 18 in October. She has two more people ready to start working “once we get enough jobs for them.”
LaCharite said she could see the business grow quickly.
“I do believe there is a need for this here,” she said. “I could see, easily, employing 15-20 people. It might be small right now, but I hope it’s going to generate jobs for people, too. And I want to pay them well, not just the $15-an-hour jobs.”
Luxus Concierge charges between $20 and $40 an hour, depending on the job. There is a one-hour minimum, but jobs lasting longer are billed in 15-minute increments. Discounts for seniors are available.
Currently the service operates in Grand Traverse, Leelanau and Antrim counties. LaCharite’s future plans include hiring a person to coordinate and handle Leelanau and Antrim. Travel up to 20 miles is included in the price.
A lot of the concierge services are a “natural extension” of her work as a real estate broker and developed from contacts. For example, LaCharite was handling an estate clean-up on West Grand Traverse Bay, to get the house ready to list following an estate sale. The owner had died and all three of his kids live in California.
Luxus offers an Away From Home service designed for second-home owners where she’ll visit the property weekly, pick up mail, water plants and check for any issues that need attention. The service also will stock the refrigerator for when the family returns.
“I’ll work as a liaison between home owner and contractor, meet them at the job, handle the repairs, get the quotes,” she said.
Some of the calls for service have been filtering in from networking in real estate. LaCharite said she is developing a “preferred vendor list” for services she doesn’t offer, like a request for a personal chef for a family in town for a horse show.
Luxus Concierge can be contacted at (231) 645-2257 or online at www.luxusmi.net.
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