With increased work loads seen by many professionals along with an increasing desire for more play time, many are looking for faster ways to get their everyday personal tasks done. This means “outsourcing” everything from grocery shopping to resolving insurance claim issues, to planning a baby shower. A lot of services and apps have sprung up to provide concierge type services, but how do they compare to hiring a personal concierge?

Let’s go back to the original concept of a concierge. In the Middle Ages, concierges were the “keepers of the keys” at castles. The comte des cierges was the person in charge of catering to every whim and desire of a palace’s visiting nobility. Noted government buildings also employed comte des cierges during this time.

More recently concierges have begun to show up in apartment buildings and offices. Typically concierges in apartment buildings serve as doormen, taking in packages and dry cleaning, letting in visitors. In an office setting, concierges can provide more extensive service depending the services desired by the employees. In some cases the company pays for the service, in others the company makes the service available on its premises but the employees pay for the services they use.

We now live in an environment of smartphones and apps. The first apps were all about having fun, playing games, watching entertainment. Soon apps for getting work done filled the landscape, and now there are apps that provide all sorts of short cuts for getting things done in our personal lives.

These apps are great if you live in a concierge building. Why? Because you don’t have to be on hand for pickup or delivery. If you live in a building without a concierge or a private house and don’t have a secure location for leaving things to be picked up and delivered, these apps won’t really save you that much time. You’ll still have to be on hand when the service arrives. This could be a huge problem if you work long hours or travel regularly. Apps like Instacart are great if you can arrange delivery when you’ll be home to receive it, but a personal concierge will deliver your groceries, put them away and organize your cabinets without you needing to be there. I have a client that gets a meat CSA. Its delivered to me. I then bring it to her home, mark the delivery date on each item, rearrange her freezer so everything will fit and the older items are placed upfront.

A real life concierge is a personal assistant who can show initiative and anticipate your needs. Apps are inanimate and only respond to requests initiated and coordinated by you. And of course, apps can’t wait for the electrician to come while you pick your child up from school, or wait for patio furniture to be delivered while you’re on a business trip.

If you need help on a regular basis, establishing a relationship with someone who doesn’t need regular supervision, who you can trust to keep your best interests front and center, who you can trust to be in your home when you aren’t, will save you more time and be less stressful than juggling multiple concierge apps with ever changing fees.