Jim Duffy comment: We all need gofers – there’s a gap in the market

I, for one, would pay to have more free time, says Duffy. Picture: Ian Howarth.
I, for one, would pay to have more free time, says Duffy. Picture: Ian Howarth.
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Jacob Rees-Mogg is an interesting character to say the least. He is a busy bee running his investment house and operating as a member of parliament, while bringing up five kids.

He moves between Somerset where his parliamentary constituency is and ­London, where he has just bought a new £5 million home a short distance from Westminster. He has a weekly slot on LBC, where he stands out as impressive and well-researched.

So, how does he do all of this? How does he remember what to wear and when to wear it? How does he manage all his travel arrangements and make sure he is eating at the right times? I have been curious as to how this “highly organised” man maintains such pace and impetus in life.

I am sure Mrs Rees-Mogg plays a big part and with all those kids to look after, she must be kept busy. But, Jacob has just a little more than his fair share of help. He has a PA and a butler. Well, I guess if I was as busy as him on the domestic, business and political fronts, I too would want some help. Especially as he can afford it. But, what price would you put on someone organising part or all of your life?

A great PA is worth her (and I’m generalising here) weight in gold. Many top executives and politicos have the assistance of great people who maintain and organise diaries, events, dinners and talks. They ensure those they look after get to where they need to be, while maintaining busy communications via mail, telephone and email, not to mention social media. The pressure they take off those they look after is immense and many who benefit from this service admit they “could not live without it”. That’s all very well and good in business and politics, but what about the regular lives you and I lead?

As I get older, I simply do not have the patience for holding on the line to call ­centres and standing in long queues. After years of doing this, I no longer wish to waste my time as a number. Keeping track of simple things like when the car needs its MOT, when the warranties on white goods run and when the home insurance is up for renewal can be onerous and take up valuable time as I have to surf the net to try and get the best deals all the time.

Add to this, cutting the grass, washing the car, maintaining the roof and ordering food online and one’s life can be taken up with menial and monotonous chores. So, how much would you pay for someone to take all of this off your hands?

We all value our time in different ways. Some like to keep busy with this type of admin. Some like to have as much free time as they can to play sport, visit the gym or go to coffee houses. Having to organise one’s life around this takes effort and detracts us from what we are supposed to be doing – enjoying this beautiful planet. I, for one, would pay to have more free time and I suspect that many of you would too, albeit the price has to be right and within budget.

Yet, I have still to find a company that has created a business model that encompasses PA, concierge, handyman, gardening, finance and insurances and who will wash the car etc. To date, I can get a landscaping company who will cut the hedge, cut the grass and trim and the roses. But they will not touch the car. On the other hand, I can get someone to valet my car and take it for servicing and MOTs. I can buy concierge services to help me buy tickets for the theatre, but I’m not the theatre type so this doesn’t work for me. Granted, they can buy me flowers to send to people as gifts, but that’s a one-off and seldom used. So, who is going to address this and start a business that helps me and others?

I don’t think we need the Rees-Mogg butler scenario. But, a rising scale of prices and services to cover so many tasks each week and month would be a worthwhile resource for many. Maybe some budding entrepreneur will fill the gap… a huge gap that is only going to get bigger as we all live longer and want to have more time for ourselves.

Jim Duffy MBE, Create Special