A year ago, the husband and wife duo of Jodie and Erz Imam – one a fashion industry executive and the other a telecom industry veteran – started Occasional Butler in Melbourne. It seems to have won the hearts of many, with a fleet of 1,500 butlers easing the lives of many Melburnians, perhaps even bringing some joy and wit in the manner of the legendary Jeeves. Or, in this case, Miles the Butler, the company’s mascot.
Now Occasional Butler is setting out to replicate the programme around the country with Sydney as the first stop.
“We are excited by the connections we are seeing people make everyday. The benefits of online communities developing real life relationships are far greater than we could have ever imagined,” said Erz Imam.
Creating a 21st century service
Occasional Butler is an embodiment of societal and lifestyle changes, happily enabled by technology. With modern lives getting ever more crowded, most of us cry out for help for diverse tasks – from picking up the dry cleaning to caring for our pets and just about anything.
The Imams first attempted a service way back in 2009 – personally delivering fruits and vegetables. Obviously, that had limits. But last year, they put their weight behind technology to solve the problem, and deliver diverse services.
Valet services are not unique. Many firms in far-flung cities – even in an emerging market like Bangalore in India – provide them. But what the Imams have achieved is notably different and might be among the first, because Occasional Butler adopts an eBay-like model. So, for each job, many providers submitting competitive bids, allowing customers to pick the best.
“Each week we are thrilled to receive new feedback from customers raving about their butlers…Our dream is to create a service where from the palm of your hand you can get the help you need at the moment you need it,” Jodie said.
Jobs provided by Occasional Butler’s fleet range from cleaning, gardening and handyman jobs to fun and romantic jobs like “create and deliver a picnic hamper.” But by far the most popular is: “Waiter at my party.”