Hello Alfred provides a way to manage your weekly errands without doing them individually. Hello Alfred connects users of their app with “Alfreds” who will take care of users’ to-do lists through an integrated service platform. Hello Alfred will take care of everything from buying groceries and dry cleaning to tailoring or sending a card to your mother. More than 4000 households in Boston and New York currently use the service and the company plans to expand to San Francisco, Washington D.C. and Chicago soon.
Hello Alfred hopes to create value by giving you back the time you are currently dedicating to daily chores. The company captures this value through the use of a subscription model for its services, offering two tiers whereby the Alfred visits either once a week ($32/week) or twice a week ($59/week).
In order for Hello Alfred’s business model to succeed, the service must be convenient, efficient and personalized. But most importantly, a large degree of trust is required between the user and the service. Hello Alfred largely achieves these objectives through its operating model:
Each “Alfred” is either a full- or part-time W2 employee who is carefully screened through several background checks (identity, criminal and credit), references and rigorous in-person interviews. To quantify this, only 3% of all applicants are eventually hired as an Alfred. This is in contrast to the model employed by many other on-demand service businesses which use contractors to provide their services. The use of employees here is a key element to engendering trust in users of Alfred given the personal nature of the service.
Creating a genuine relationship
Before the first visit, users are introduced to their own personal Alfred via email (or in-person). The fact that each user is allocated a dedicated Alfred who will be responsible for their chores works to both foster trust and also ensure that personalization of the service can be achieved easily.
When a user first subscribes to the service, Alfred will do a walk-through of the user’s home to learn the user’s preferences and routines so that the dedicated Alfred can begin personalizing the service from the very beginning. In this way, the user does not have to expend effort on describing how they like things done – it just happens automatically. This automation also flows through to the app where users enter their preferences (e.g. regarding how they like their shirts starched) on their first use and never have to think about it again if they want to.
Culture of decentralization
Hello Alfred provides their employees with a lot of responsibility and trusts them to make good decisions for their customers. This freedom enables their employees to fill the entrepreneurial gap to not only fulfill but also anticipate customer needs. An example of this in action can be seen in the fact that Alfreds will often leave personalised notes for their clients at the end of their shift.
As can be seen from the above discussion, the Hello Alfred operating model is by and large well-aligned with their operating model. There are some aspects in which I would argue that it is not aligned, such as the lack of control over output, which is introduced by their reliance on third-party on-demand services (this has potential impacts on the quality and efficiency of the service). However, overall I would say Alfred is a winner as far as business and operating model alignment is concerned.