Back in 2010, Oretha was accompanying her father at the Seremban Hospital for one of his scheduled cancer checkups.
They sat and observed the many seniors getting lost, looking confused as they searched for clinics and pharmacies around the premises.
The idea of starting a hospital service to assist senior citizens with their appointments sprouted in her mind.
When she shared it with her dad, he said, “Start now lah. See that uncle there looking blur? Go and ask him where he wants to go.”
9 years later, Oretha launched her first business ad, calling it Senior Concierge Services.
Similar To GoGet, But For The Elderly
Within a week of sharing about her business online, inquiries poured in from prospective clients around KL and abroad.
By the second week, she managed to book her first 2 clients.
In June this year, the service was rebranded to Oretha’s Senior Concierge Services with the intention of making her brand more recognisable.
This service reminded me of GoGet, the gig economy platform that connects strangers to help fulfil another’s tasks.
Oretha’s services works a little differently. She hires freelancers that consist of students, retirees, and homemakers who reach out after seeing her ads.
A meet-up will then be scheduled with the applicants, which goes exactly like any other job interview.
She’d meet the applicants, get to know them, and brief them on her recurring clients, the job’s SOPs, and objectives.
On the client’s side, they would book Oretha’s service via Whatsapp or email, which can be found on her Facebook page.
Upon receiving requests, Oretha makes it a point to always call her clients to get to a better understanding of their needs.
“I feel that the first point of contact is very important. When clients hear your voice and when we make the effort to call them, they know we’re genuine,” she said.
Appointment details like its date, time, hospital, the purpose of visit, and client’s home address are recorded.
“If I’m unable to go, I would inform the clients in advance that it would be one of the freelancers who will be assisting them,” she added.
This allows her to never turn any seniors down.
Sometimes, Oretha would even pay a pre-visit to the seniors’ homes to get to know them and their children better.
This tends to help alleviate their anxiety before they attend their appointments with a stranger.
Keeping It Human
Much like any other concierge service, you’d expect there to be an app for easy bookings and payment transactions.
But Oretha is keen on sticking to her current management system, where appointments are made via her personal contacts.
Freelancers are delegated to a task depending on Oretha’s availability, and payments are collected online after the completion of each service.
“I agree that with an app, I’m able to manage the reporting systems, bookings, and payments all online. But this also loses the human touch to what my business is all about,” she said.
The whole idea of the service is meant to build personal connections between her clients and their helpers, after all.
An app might also confuse the seniors who would otherwise already be independent in making their own bookings by calling up Oretha themselves.
And it’s in line with the service’s objectives too: helping seniors live their own independent lifestyles.
It’s a slow process, but her clients appreciate the effort.
Never once did I ever think about giving up. Yes, physically and mentally it is tiring but I know that whenever I pay them a visit, they look forward to it. I take the time to listen to them, even if they’ve told me the same story every week, I look into their needs as if they were my own parents.Oretha, founder of Oretha’s Senior Concierge Services
Extending Help To The Less Fortunate
Oretha works on her concierge service full-time.
To sustain the cost of her own living, she sets a target to assist clients for a total of 100 hours in a month.
She also keeps business costs low by single-handedly attending to the seniors herself without hiring permanent staff.
The package rates for her services are:
- RM700 for 4 visits in a month;
- RM1,200 for 8 visits in a month.
Each senior will be accompanied by a helper for 4 hours per visit in the packages.
For non-packages, it’ll cost RM45 per hour.
The fees are inclusive of petrol, parking, and toll for those around KL and PJ.
Transport surcharges will apply to those who fall outside this range.
In terms of what’s next, Oretha intends to reach out to the B40 senior group and provide her services to them for free.
“I am hoping that grants or angel investors can see this as a way to reach out to the community,” she said.
“It’s meant for them to continuously have access to proper healthcare and understand what they’re being treated by the doctors for.”
It may sound like a tall order, but Oretha’s optimistic that she can make it happen.
- You can learn more about Oretha’s Senior Concierge Services here.
- You can read about other Malaysian startups here.
Featured Image Credit: Oretha, founder of Oretha’s Senior Concierge Services