De­tails

GA Voice - - Outspoken -

The abil­ity to adapt and know­ing when to pivot are two key traits for a suc­cess­ful busi­ness owner, or em­ployee for that mat­ter. At­lanta res­i­dent Dil­lard Jones did just that af­ter find­ing him­self un­der­em­ployed dur­ing The Great Re­ces­sion.

He took the skills he learned dur­ing his decade-plus ca­reer in the events and hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try and started his own busi­ness, which, thanks in part to tech­nol­ogy and the rise of the gig econ­omy, is now thriv­ing seven years in. Meet Jones, the At­lanta Gay & Les­bian Cham­ber of Com­merce mem­ber per­haps bet­ter known as The Concierge Guy. As a per­sonal concierge, At­lantans hire Jones to per­form a va­ri­ety of tasks to make their lives eas­ier, such as wait­ing on de­liv­er­ies, run­ning er­rands and plan­ning wed­dings.

So Dil­lard, tell me how you got to this point. How did you be­come The Concierge Guy?

Back in 2009 and 2010, I was some­what un­em­ployed or un­der­em­ployed and I had been think­ing about the con­cept of per­sonal concierge ser­vices for a few years prior to that, just as a way to get peo­ple their time back. I knew peo­ple were too busy, I knew peo­ple don’t like to do things on their own any­more and peo­ple like con­ve­nience. So I just started re­search­ing and then once the time came in those two years [when he was un­der­em­ployed], I re­al­ized maybe now’s the time to take the plunge and make this hap­pen and see how it goes.

So I looked at other mar­kets like Mi­ami, New York, Chicago, LA and San Fran­cisco and looked at those con­cepts of concierge

May 12, 2017 The Concierge Guy

ser­vices and what they pro­vided and how I would want to con­vey that for my­self. Then I got the web­site started and that’s when it was of­fi­cial. I also started with branch­ing out and spread­ing the word to my im­me­di­ate neigh­bors in my con­do­minium build­ing. That was pri­mar­ily pet ser­vices and dog walk­ing is how I kind of started it, but I had the list of other ser­vices and it kind of grew from there.

As far as your back­ground, you were with a cater­ing com­pany and then you were the event man­ager at Zoo At­lanta?

Yeah, I started out in ’96 at Af­fairs To Re­mem­ber cater­ers. I worked there for sev­eral years and I learned lo­gis­tics and man­age­ment, hos­pi­tal­ity, cus­tomer ser­vice.

From there, I went to Zoo At­lanta where I man­aged all their pri­vate events at the zoo. That was year-round, in­doors and out, venues and events from wed­dings, cor­po­rate re­treats and pic­nics and lun­cheons and re­cep­tions. And of course that was man­ag­ing and learn­ing every­thing from op­er­a­tions and lo­gis­tics and cus­tomer ser­vice and mar­ket­ing on a much dif­fer­ent scale on one prop­erty.

Then I did event de­sign work with a small de­sign firm called Even­tS­capes and I did more props and dé­cor and flow­ers, and that’s when the econ­omy changed and no­body was do­ing events re­ally [laughs]. So I shifted gears. I still in­clude those skills into my per­sonal concierge ser­vices.

By PA­TRICK SAUN­DERS

And per­sonal concierge ser­vices are a rel­a­tively new thing, cor­rect?

I think in At­lanta it’s def­i­nitely new. When I first started seven years ago, I re­ally had to ex­plain my busi­ness a lot. But, more and more I don’t have to go into as much de­tail Dil­lard Jones is now in his sev­enth year as The Concierge Guy, his per­sonal concierge ser­vice. (Cour­tesy photo) be­cause peo­ple un­der­stand it a lit­tle bit more.

It’s def­i­nitely some­thing that wouldn’t have been as vi­able 10 or 15 years ago. A lot of that has to do with peo­ple’s life­styles in At­lanta and other large mar­kets but also tech­nol­ogy, with apps and every­thing at your fin­ger­tips where you can get things de­liv­ered and done re­ally quickly.

What lessons have you learned since you started the busi­ness?

I def­i­nitely can’t be in two places or three places at once [laughs]. I learned that re­ally early on. Luck­ily, things took off at a fairly good pace for me right away, and a lot of that had to do with me hus­tling and net­work­ing and my re­la­tion­ships in At­lanta pro­fes­sion­ally and per­son­ally.

But, there were times when I was jug­gling and I re­al­ized I couldn’t be suc­cess­ful to do this on my own all the time. So I do have a few other as­so­ciates that help me be two places at once so the client can still “leave it to Dil­lard and con­sider it done,” as my tagline says. So that was one of the first lessons that I learned, for sure. And to be able to net­work ef­fec­tively as well, be­cause a lot of times peo­ple don’t un­der­stand it just with a busi­ness card or web­site, so a face to the name helps.

Is there a typ­i­cal day on the job? What have you got on your plate this week?

Oh gosh. I’m do­ing a lot of home edit­ing and closet ther­apy tasks this week and the next few weeks. That in­cludes every­thing from purg­ing peo­ples’ clos­ets or garages.

I’m ac­tu­ally kind of in the mid­dle of do­ing a lit­tle bit of that for one client, as well as shop­ping for them for fur­ni­ture and get­ting rid of things in their liv­ing room. He’s in his 30s and in a bach­e­lor pad kind of space and he’s try­ing to up his game a lit­tle bit and I think his girl­friend is push­ing him in that di­rec­tion. So I’m do­ing some shop­ping for them, get­ting rid of things, do­ing some handy­man jobs, get­ting art­work and things like that hung up.

I also have a wed­ding in June that I’m do­ing at Oak­land Ceme­tery. It’s two gen­tle­men get­ting mar­ried June 3 with 100 guests. I waited on Com­cast last week a few times, waited on a plumber a cou­ple times this week. Def­i­nitely no two days are alike [laughs].

Tell me about the Trees At­lanta part­ner­ship.

They were re­ferred to me about a year ago. It’s a ter­rific venue in the Reynold­stown-Cab­bage­town neigh­bor­hood. They do events year-round in­doors and out, from wed­dings and bar mitz­vahs and cor­po­rate re­treats and meet­ings and lun­cheons and re­cep­tions. And it’s a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion, so they rely on events to fund them and keep At­lanta green.

They needed a lit­tle ex­tra help pri­mar­ily for evening and week­end events, so they part­nered with The Concierge Guy to be there on-site and be some­body that will help man­age lo­gis­tics and setup and break­down for any type of event. I help with some mar­ket­ing and so­cial me­dia as well. It’s just a lit­tle ex­tra pro­fes­sion­al­ism and se­cu­rity they wanted for their events.

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