Fancy Hands is a New York-based virtual assistant company that was founded in 2010. In itself, it’s not a revolutionary business model, but what sets Fancy Hands apart from its low priced outsourcing competition is its use of US-based, native-English speaking assistants. For that, they’re gaining a lot of momentum and exposure.
Customers primarily use Fancy Hands as a time-saving tool for small one-time tasks, like restaurant reservations, online research, and quick event planning. You can submit tasks via the web interface, email, or phone, and rumor has it a mobile app is coming soon.
Initially Fancy Hands wasn’t touching any tasks that involved making purchases online, but they’ve added the capability now to make purchases on your behalf up to $100. For these transactions, your credit card details stay hidden from the VA. They use a company card, and then just bill the card you have on file for your membership for the amount of the purchase.
Another cool feature is that adding events to your Google Calendar is free.
Plans and Pricing
For $74.99 a month you can outsource up to 15 tasks, and 50 20-minute tasks is $199.99 a month. A smaller 5-task plan is $29.99 a month, and you can save 15% on all plans by pre-paying for a year in advance. The pre-pay option is a great deal but of course is a little risky for first-time outsourcers.
Beginning in February 2014, unused tasks now rollover month-to-month. Since the tasks rollover, one strategy would be to buy the Premier plan for a month or two to stockpile your requests, and then downgrade to Basic until you’re running low, effectively reducing your price per request.
Fancy Hands also added the ability to go beyond the regular 20-minute time limit by asking your approval to burn multiple tasks on one request. For instance, sometimes I’ve gotten a response back that says, we’d love to handle this for you, but it will take 3 tasks instead of one. OK, that’s fine — I hit the approval button and they got to work.
Fancy Hands Review
Virtual Assistant Assistant Referral Bonus: If you want to try Fancy Hands, get 50% off your first month when you sign-up through this link.
Without a dedicated virtual assistant option, Fancy Hands is aimed at a personal-use audience rather than a business-use audience. Unless of course your business requires lots of online research done in 15 minute increments, for example. Longer, time-intensive tasks like writing articles or ongoing business process tasks aren’t allowed. That said, I’ve had them do the initial baseline research for writing projects.
The company recently introduced a TeamWork platform, that gives Fancy Hands access to your entire team. For employers, it’s a nice perk to offer and allows your workers to be more productive on the job. The service is integrated with the web interface, email, phone, and Basecamp project management software.
Once you create your account, you’ll see a dashboard that keeps track of your requests and some other stats on profile. Fancy Hands has spent over 22 hours on the phone for me!
I’m a pretty happy camper to have not had to make those 421 calls myself. I actually broke their system — the counter stopped at 1000 requests and hasn’t updated in over a year.
Another feature added is the ability to use Fancy Hands to set up your conference calls. It’s easy and included in your subscription (only charges one task), which probably amounts to less than some other conference-calling services may charge.
Longer Requests: The Best Feature Yet
In late summer 2014, Fancy Hands added the ability to submit requests longer than 15 minutes. This is huge!
Previously I had to break up those requests into 15 minute segments and re-submit each time one assistant finished. For one data entry project, it resulted in 20 different times I had to email them!
Now, you can submit your bigger job and they’ll come back with an approval request, for 5 gigs for instance. You click the “go ahead” button and they get to work. I also like this because it builds more consistency into these longer requests because the same assistant is working on it the whole time instead of the task changing hands to a dozen different people.
The Fancy Hands App
In March 2013, Fancy Hands launched their mobile app. It has a very slick user interface with nearly all the functionality of their browser-based site.
You can check on view your usage statistics, track existing requests, and submit new ones via text or voice. Very cool. It also allows you to take pictures that might be helpful to your VA or choose an existing photo from your library.
The introduction of the Fancy Hands incoming calls API is big news for anyone struggling with their call volume or already using an outsourced solution like Ruby Receptionists. With a little bit of set-up, your preferred phone number can ring Fancy Hands and an assistant will answer the call, answer basic questions, and with access to your calendar, set appointments.
In the Cloud
Fancy Hands virtual assistants are “in the cloud” – a largely part-time, on-demand, and remote workforce that handles tasks as they come in. The unique set-up has attracted a lot of positive press during its first year in business, including articles in Fast Company, Slate, and Forbes. Users email their requests to a common account and a Fancy Hands assistant tackles it and follows up.
One advantage of this team-based approach is 24/7/365 coverage for your requests, whereas a “real” would probably need to take some time off or sleep every now and then.
However, to give off the appearance of a dedicated assistant, you can give this team of VAs a real name. The feature is called Personal Touch, and you can set up a dedicated email account to give correspondents the illusion that you have a dedicated personal assistant.
For instance, Fancy Hands founder Ted Roden uses the name Lucille Bluth — as in “I’ll have my assistant Lucille will set up the meeting.” And regardless of which Fancy Hands VA assumes the task, the meeting request will appear to come from Lucille.
Hmm… what clever name should I use for my assistant?
Fancy Hands Alternatives
I tested Fancy Hands against a few of their competitors, both in the US and overseas. The trial pitted them against Red Butler, Efficise, and My Tasker (no longer offers a task-based plan). Please click here to read the full review of my test.
I’m still maintaining my subscription and have actually set up a cool automation with IFTTT where I can send them tasks automatically based on certain criteria.
One other company worth checking out is the newcomer OkayRelax.
If you have any experience with Fancy Hands, please share it below!