by Pete Mazzaccaro
Chestnut Hill resident Rob Nicol wants to do your chores. To be more precise, he’d like you to hire his new local company, Task, to lend you a hand, be it walking your dog, picking up your groceries or even cleaning up that too-full closet.
“We’re trying to allow people to get their time back,” Nicol said. “Being a parent of a daughter at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy and trying to figure out how to be two places at once, I often wished I had an extra pair of hands to help me with this and that. I know Chestnut Hill is a place where there are a lot of two-income families where both people are working, have active lifestyles and don’t have time for everything.”
Nicol, president of the new company, has lived in Chestnut Hill for 10 years, and he’s spent his entire professional life in hospitality and nonprofit work. Prior to founding Task, he worked for Hilton Hotels at the Double Tree Suites in Plymouth Meeting. Recently he was the vice president of guest relations for the Philadelphia Zoo and was part of a nonprofit team that launched the Delaware Children’s Museum.
He said he “kicked around the idea” for Task for about a year and a half, inspired in part by the “sharing economy” – the name given the Internet economy in which goods and services are traded and even simple jobs are auctioned off to the lowest bidder – and how he might improve on that.
“I kept coming back to the fact that in these cases, it is essentially strangers bidding for your work rather than getting an established business in the neighborhood that can put a name with the face and get to know you,” he said. “When you ask people to come to your home to do work for you, you should be sure they’ll do the work and not steal your stuff. We want to establish ourselves in the neighborhood and be part of the community.”
So far, Nicol has approximately six employees, including his daughter, who has helped to walk dogs and set up the company’s Facebook page, and a handyman who is available for odd jobs during the workday.
Nicol said he expects to be providing services as diverse as assembling people’s recently purchased IKEA furniture to picking up work for local Realtors who need a quick paint job to get an open house ready. Whether it’s residents that need a hand or local business owners who don’t have time for a simple chore, Nicol hopes his company can fill the gap.
Another need Nicol feels his business can fill is that of simple chores for seniors. On the company’s website, taskusanything.com, those services are labeled “vintage.”
“There are simple tasks that older people can’t do,” he said. “Replacing batteries in smoke detectors. Cleaning gutters. That segment of the population is growing and an area we will focus on.”
There are, however, some things Nicol’s company won’t do.
“We respect contractors and will not do anything we’re not licensed to do,” he said. “We’ll suggest a good contractor for those services.”
He said that the company has been in a state of ” soft launch,” taking work from friends and acquaintances while working out kinks. But he’s ready to go now. A recent flyer in the local produced 25 phone calls the first day.
“We feel ready to hit the ground running,” he said.
Another note is that, yes, although the company has a full-service website and Nicol can swipe credit cards via an iPhone, he has a regular phone number, 1-855-SAY-TASK(729-8275), that helps solidify the company outside of the realm of the World Wide Web.
“A lot of people prefer to have a number and don’t want to have only the website,” he said.
If the business goes well, Nicols sees an opportunity for it to scale up to serve similar markets like West Chester and the Main Line.
“These are places like Chestnut Hill, which is a perfect place for this kind of service, ” he said. “They have this nice synergy of active residential and business communities.”
Task can be found online at www.taskusanything.com or by phone at 1-855-SAY-TASK.