Digital is at the forefront of a business revolution in Brisbane, a city where innovation thrives.
Digital tools have helped Brisbane-based The Concierge Collective refine its offering, and service clients more easily.
Digital Brisbane spoke to Adele Blair, the Managing Director of The Concierge Collective, about the business of getting organised, transitioning to a digital business model and why she loves doing other people’s to-do lists.
How did the business start?
I started the business in 2006 on my own from my spare bedroom, the story most entrepreneurs will tell you! I had a friend build me a very basic website around my idea of a concierge service. In 2006 it was not that easy to make your own website – no such thing as WordPress then! It was then down to networking and a lot of it!
In recent years, would you say we have become even more time poor? What are some of the services you offer that are most popular?
Absolutely, the notion of being time poor will not change. The pace of our lives has increased dramatically over the last 20 years, primarily due to technology. The idea that we can be reached around the clock is putting more pressure on us, even if we don’t realise it in the moment. We say yes to everything for ourselves and our children because we want to lead a full life. This has led to a skew in the balance between our work and leisure time, and the technology we rely on is making us feel like we never have enough time, and increases our stress!
When did you realise the potential of digital and how did you go about setting The Concierge Collective’s services to be a digital transaction?
Our business has always had a digital element – from our very first Flash website, being an earlier adopter of Twitter in 2009, and now our ever-evolving website (we are on our 8th or 9th version) and various social media platforms. The Concierge Collective is a service-based business, so using digital platforms to communicate and transact with our clients is essential. It is our ‘shop window’.
Were there many challenges, and what learnings did they inspire?
The main challenge we faced was market education. The concept of a Personal Concierge was quite foreign when we started business 10 years ago, and to some it still is. The lesson we learned was to keep improving our language and communication until we found the right ‘formula’ to convey our message. This message had to sit comfortably across all our communication platforms from face-to-face networking through the copy on our website. Improving and refining our message is ever evolving!
Did digital change your business model at all?
The last six months has seen the introduction of our Concierge App. It is so much more than a communication tool as it provides suggestions to our clients as well as a very clean and beautiful interface. The technology has a sophisticated back end that helps us manage SLAs (service level agreements), allows us to manage client data as well as an integrated payment system. This technology will revolutionise how we connect with our clients and enable us to streamline our internal processes.
The most exciting application for this technology is the way it can instantly add a local full-service concierge to residential and commercial buildings without the need for onsite staff and, of course, significantly reducing the associated on-costs this would incur to the building manager or body corporate. The same high level of service, with instant connection to concierge, with the ability to call a concierge to site at any time!
How would you describe your business at the moment?
2015 was about consolidation and developing clear focus. 2016 is all about growth and engagement. Our new app is definitely our hot product at the moment and is being keenly sought by developers to add as a key point of difference to their residential and commercial properties. We are also getting a lot of interest from corporations who want to include concierge services as part of their employee benefit programme. Traditional benefits of gym memberships and cheaper health care just don’t cut the mustard any more. Employees are busy and they need a service that will relieve that pressure and enable them to be more focused at work, meaning greater job satisfaction for all.
What is it like being based in Brisbane, but having a business that offers a national service? Does technology make this easier? How?
I’ve lived and worked in Canberra, Sydney and London, but Brisbane is the only city that I’ve had my own business in. Brisbane has always had a great network of business people who are keen to support each other – this has been invaluable to me being a newbie to Queensland. Having technology definitely makes our work easier, not just nationally but globally. We work with clients and providers all around the world, and the aid of technology has helped us create great working relationships, even if we don’t always meet face-to-face. Technology such as Skype and Facetime remove those barriers and help us have a deeper level of engagement.