Do you live in Los Angeles or travel there from time to time? We have a pretty cool concept for you.
California native Michelle McCloskey’s Run Around Betties provides people in the L.A. area with their very own personal assistant for US$25 an hour.
We spoke to Michelle about her company and hope her franchise plans launch soon. Like very soon. Life would be a lot easier if we had a Bettie or a Bob in the New York or Hong Kong hood.
Without further ado…
A NewsWhistle Q&A with Run Around Betties founder Michelle McCloskey
1. Hi, Michelle. Tell us about Run Around Betties? When was it started? How did the idea come about?
Run Around Betties is the go-to resource for convenient, affordable, and stress-free personal assistance for home, office, and life. When I founded RAB in 2011, my vision was to provide high-quality support to overscheduled professionals, new moms, and small business owners on a part-time, as needed basis.
I had years of experience working as a personal/executive assistant, and launching Run Around Betties was the result of my professional experience and my desire to find a fun, cost-effective, and dynamic way to help time-strapped professionals and everyday folks. I had a vision and a catchy name and went from there.
2. How many customers do you currently have?
Currently, we have approximately 100 clients ranging from regular clients who use a Betty on consistent weekly basis to those clients who use a Betty on a project basis here and there when they get busy.
3. With the high price of gas, what is the current average price of a Bob or Betty?
It’s always $25/hour for a Betty or a Bob with only a one-hour minimum. The first 10 miles of driving per day are included in the hourly rate, and if the client requires his or her Betty to drive more, we charge $.55/mile for each mile over the first ten.
4. Is there anything you would have done differently with this business when you first started?
When I first started, I was the only Betty and worked for every client. I hired my first Betty when it was physically impossible to take on any more business, but in retrospect, I think I should have hired a Betty or two sooner and reserved more of my time for marketing and promotion.
5. Many people have trouble delegating or handing over work to colleagues, let alone strangers. How does your business overcome this issue?
This is very true. The majority of our clients call us because they have gotten to a point where they are overwhelmed and have it the point where they really can’t move forward without figuring out how to integrate some support or help. Getting clients over difficulty in delegating starts with finding them the right Betty for their needs at that particular point in time. When finding a Betty for a client, I take into consideration the client’s needs (spoken and unspoken), current circumstances and environment, and personality. With the right Betty, a client can establish trust and communication which make all the difference in encouraging the client to let go and let us help. We also work with our Betties to keep their eyes open, anticipate, and look for ways to assist.
6. Do you have any plans to expand to other markets? Do you have competition?
Yes, we do have current plans for expansion and perhaps in the future, franchising. Our competition now is mainly task-oriented services or small errand/concierge services that are locally based. We don’t see online services such as TaskRabbit as our competition at this point in time since our clients tend to be very sensitive about who comes into their homes, offices, and lives.
7. Before Run Around Betties, what were you doing?
As previously mentioned, most of my work experience has been as an office assistant. However, I have always had a little side business going. The first was creating and selling stationery and later, running an on-line vintage clothing store for three years.
8. As an entrepreneur, what are some nuggets of advice to give to our readers?
I would say don’t be scared to make a mistake when starting your business and don’t let the inevitable mistakes discourage you. Also, not everyone is going to get what you’re doing or why you are doing it. They don’t have to. Just keep going.
9. Some of our readers travel to Los Angeles, why would a Betty or Bob be good for them?
There are so many reasons a Betty or Bob would be great for the traveler. Depending on whether the travel is for business or pleasure, a Betty can help make your trip easier. If you’re in Los Angeles for business, you can have a Betty function as your West Coast admin, managing appointments and reservations, driving you to meetings, taking notes, and keeping you organized and on track. If you’re here for pleasure, we also have city-savvy Betties who can coordinate your itinerary, get tickets and reservations, stock your hotel room with diapers and baby food or wine and cheese (depending on the type of trip!), and/or show you around town.
10. When it comes to your customers, what has been the strangest request, the funniest request, and the saddest request?
We haven’t had anything terribly strange at this point, but the most challenging request we have had so far was from a new client, expecting her first child, who wanted a Cantonese-speaking Betty because her parents who don’t speak English were coming into town and she needed someone who could drive them around town for errands and light entertainment while she was in the hospital. I’m happy to say we found her a great Betty.
The funniest would be one of our musician clients who books a Betty when he comes to town a couple times a year and her only job is only to go to meetings with him and look like his assistant!
The saddest was a client whose daughter was in the hospital and she needed a driver to take her to the hospital so she could pick up her daughter and bring her home. Our client wanted someone compassionate and who would be a help and would feel like a family friend rather than an impersonal taxi or other transportation service.