Useful services also offer part-time jobs
Two new businesses have come to the region that might appeal to you as a potential customer — or as a potential employee. Their services are aimed at those who are seeking certain kinds of practical help to enable them to remain in their neighborhoods as they age.
One of them spins off a very basic household chore: doing the laundry. Are you the kind of person who hates doing laundry? Would you pay $1 per pound (with a $20 minimum) to have your dirty laundry picked up from your front door and returned, cleaned and folded, 24 hours later?
Or are you a person who actually enjoys doing laundry and wouldn’t mind doing it for others if you earned $.75/pound (averaging $15 to $20/hour) as a side gig?
Enter SudShare, a fast-growing national company founded in Baltimore that serves the entire metropolitan area (along with more than 300 other cities throughout the country).
SudShare does for laundry what Uber did for transportation: provide a quick and convenient solution to a common consumer problem, while giving ordinary individuals the opportunity to make money working flexible hours, using items they already possess (a car, in Uber’s case; a washer-and-dryer, for SudShare).
Their workers, called “sudsters,” use their own washer and dryer (which may not have been intended for heavy use) and are required to use certain detergents and follow customer instructions (such as air drying, using softener, or hanging rather than folding). And, of course, they must commit to getting the job done and returned within 24 hours.
Would you be a good “nabor”?
Another company with a similar approach but different service has also recently come to the area (Montgomery County, Maryland so far).
Naborforce matches up adults (they call “nabors”) “with free time and a desire to connect with others” with those who want some companionship, help with errands, transportation to appointments, help with meal preparation and the like.
The services provided are similar to those offered by non-medical homecare companies, but are provided by people who live nearby and can be arranged for as little as one hour at a time.
Currently, the cost of a nabor starts at $33/hour ($38 after 6 p.m. or on weekends), but there are prepaid packages that provide up to a 20% discount off those rates. Those who provide the services earn $19/hour ($24 after 6 p.m. or on weekends).
Naborforce currently has around 45 vetted nabors in this area and is looking to double that. The way Christy MacCormack, who runs Naborforce’s Bethesda office, puts it: “We’re looking for people with extra time, volunteer hearts, who want to give back (but don’t mind making side income doing so).”
Built around smartphone apps
Both services were developed around smartphone apps that, like Uber’s, connect people desiring services with those in the area who are available to provide them.
For example, sudsters use the app to decide whether to accept or decline a nearby request for pick-up, keeping in mind that those who more readily accept new jobs are also more likely to be offered more such jobs.
Unlike Uber, the match isn’t instantaneous. With Naborforce, you need to request service at least 24 hours in advance in order to give the system time to inform potential nabors of the job and allow one of them to accept it.
With SudShare, it may also take a few hours before a sudster accepts your order and comes by to pick it up. But in both companies, providers and orderers can communicate directly through the app.
What if you don’t have a smartphone? SudShare offers a toll-free “senior hotline” to enable ordering by landline phone, and Naborforce also allows you to use a landline to place a request.
But both sudsters and nabors absolutely need a smartphone, as it’s through the apps that they get requests to provide service and confirm appointments.
One of the top sudsters (revenue wise) in this area is Madina Abdoul Aziz, of Alexandria, Virginia: “I am a mom of two sons…I have a job and needed extra income, so my mom and I decided to work together. She doesn’t drive, so she only folds after washing, and I take care of the [pick-up], labeling, the packaging and the delivery,” she said.
Aziz has developed relationships with a number of repeat customers who ask for her specifically. Tips from happy customers are part of what make the gig work for her.
One of those, David Morrison of Arlington, Virginia, said, “Living in a condo without my own washer and dryer, laundry day was very inefficient. Being able to reliably send out my laundry and get it back well done is extremely helpful.”
To get started as a customer, visit SudShare.com to sign up, or call their “senior hotline” at 1-833-783-7427.
Interested in becoming a sudster? Go to the website and click “join the team.” Once you register, take a 10-minute orientation and “in-app training,” and you’ll be in the system.
To become a customer of Naborforce, visit Naborforce.com and enter your Zip code to see if there are nabors available near you. Or call them at (301) 960-5500. You can create an account online or over the phone as well.
To become a nabor yourself, click “become a nabor” and complete the online application. You will need to submit to background and reference checks and have a valid driver’s license and clean driving record.