PONSONBY NEWS, MAY 2018
A chat with Janice Willis, busy founder of Elderly Assist, Moving Assist and Clutterbusters.
I first met Janice two years ago when I interviewed her for a profile piece on her company Elderly Assist. I was struck immediately by her passion for her work – helping the elderly get through the stressful business of downsizing and moving home.
Nothing has changed and in fact Janice has been so successful pursuing her passion in the Auckland area that she is now expanding into Hamilton and the Bay of Plenty.
“We’ve been established in the Auckland market for six years now,’ says Janice, “so the next logical step is to move into the regions. My teams work with local staff and managers in these areas doing everything that we do in the Auckland market.”
Janice is very proud of her team members – all credit and police checked – who she hand picks for their ethical and compassionate approach to their work. “I recruit my people based on their temperament and morality,” she says. “You can teach people how to pack but you can’t teach ethics and empathy.”
On the back of her success with Elderly Assist and with her key teams in place, Janice has also launched two new companies.
“Helping retired people declutter and move is still my core business,” says Janice. “But when family and friends of my Elderly Assist clients approached me to work with them I decided to set up Moving Assist and Clutterbusters.”
Moving Assist is for ‘time poor’ people (or those of us who just can’t stand the thought of organising a move) who are not elderly but need someone to help them sort out their belongings, selling those they no longer need (without taking a commission), pack, relocate and unpack in their new home.
Not everyone is downsizing their possessions in order to move though, says Janice, “Some people just need a helping hand to sort themselves out and this is where Clutterbusters comes in. They might need help with their cluttered home, garage or office overflowing with documents. We provide all the services we do for our Elderly Assist clients; our team members just wear a different uniform!”
All three companies provide a tailor-made one-stop shop or clients can ‘cherry pick’ the services they require: decluttering, packing and moving, preparing the home for sale, assistance with the sale, gifting or disposal of belongings, garden maintenance, you name it. Over the years Janice has built up many valuable relationships and add-on services including liaising with lawyers, and assisting with deceased estates, real estate firms, retirement villages, charities, collectors, builders and gardeners.
Says Janice: “Many of my contractors have come to work with me and are now key team members, bringing their expertise to my business.”
Another source of pride for Janice is Elderly Assist’s 98% authenticated positive rating on the No Cowboys website, ranked from over 40 reviews.
The glowing testimonials speak volumes about Janice and her team’s compassion and commitment. Writing on the website in February this year, happy customer Owen says: “(Elderly Assist) Did an excellent job and what delightful people, accurate estimates, great care packing. I can’t praise them enough.”
In between sorting out and moving dozens of people and starting companies Janice has seen one daughter move to New York, another start her studies at AUT and met and married her husband Nigel. “It’s not all work and no play!” says Janice. “But I do love my job. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”
VERVE MAGAZINE, JUNE 2018
Janice Willis is one of those special people you warm to immediately.
Settled in the corner of the lounge at Grace Joel Retirement Village in St Heliers, framed
by views sweeping from Mt Wellington to Glendowie and chatting with the various
people popping by, Janice is obviously in her element.
I am meeting Janice to talk about her passion — helping elderly people declutter and downsize their homes, often to move into a retirement village setting. ‘We take the stress out of this very sensitive and often difficult move,’ she says. ‘Having done this for four years, I know that most people move out of their family home after 30 or 40 years living there. Their rooms are full of belongings and interests and memories and when it comes time to move, it is the first time they have had to think about actually rationalising all of their possessions. For some people it is incredibly overwhelming, especially if they are on their own.’ This is where Janice and her team step in. Elderly Assist is a team of hand picked people who will help you declutter your house, pack you up, move you to your new home and then unpack — but they never take over. ‘We are the arms and legs,’ says Janice. ‘We do all the hard physical work but our clients have to make the decisions about what to keep and what to take, and that is tiring.’ Which is why the team tends to do just four or five hours a day to give everyone a chance to catch their breath. ‘Sometimes it takes us weeks and weeks,’ says Janice.
We all know moving is stressful — up there with divorce apparently — but factor in being elderly, maybe grieving as well or with cognitive impairment, and you’ve got a unique situation requiring much sensitivity and empathy.
‘I recruit my people based on their temperament and morality,’ says Janice. ‘I can train people to pack, but I cannot teach ethics and empathy and I run an ethical business.’ Janice uses Human Resources consultant Sandy Clarke from Heartstone to help her with recruitment and profiling using psychometric testing. ‘This has been really key to my business,’ she stresses. ‘We are working with a vulnerable group of people and I need to know that my team will act responsibly in every situation. My team members are really compassionate; they never stand and judge.’
Janice is very proud of her team which includes people from all sorts of corporate and manual working backgrounds, but all united in their love of working with the elderly. Coming from a corporate background herself, Janice has put in place good solid foundations with robust processes and systems and manuals and guidelines for every aspect of the business. ‘Everything is documented and inventoried,’ she says. All staff are trained and they hold regular team meetings to debrief jobs and share ideas.
Over the years Janice has built up many valuable add-on services to her offering such as liaising with estate agents, lawyers, retirement villages, dealers, collectors, even builders and other contractors.
‘We tailor-make a package for everyone,’ says Janice. Most people opt for the complete service but some prefer to cherry pick. The full service will take you from making the decision to move, through helping to sort what does and doesn’t make the cut, packing up, moving day and then setting up the new home. The team will take photos of everything in the old house (china, photo frames, ornaments) so they can set up the new one with everything in its place.
‘Because we work so closely with retirement villages and know the layout and storage available in the apartments and rooms, we can help make those decisions about what will fi t. We don’t take a commission on anything we sell on behalf, so we don’t have a vested interest in encouraging our clients to make those decisions.’
Janice says they stress to their clients that they are going to make the most out of selling their house rather than the things in it. Anything that can be sold is and everything else is recycled, given away or disposed of ethically. ‘ My team researches all this. We give hearing aids and spectacles to church missionaries to take to the islands, sewing machines always fi nd a worthy home and tools might go to a prison or tech workshop.’
Janice is also extremely proud of their 99% positive rating on the ‘No Cowboys’ website as well as the vast number of glowing customer testimonials, written and spoken. ‘I’ve had people tell me that I’ve changed their lives! The elderly people we work with are so appreciative, even of the small things we do. It is very, very rewarding working with them.’
In fact, Janice has proved so popular with the families she has helped out that she has now branched out and set up a new company. ‘Moving Assist’ is for all the ‘time poor’ people who are not elderly, but just need that someone special to help them sort out their belongings and move.
I’ve taken up an hour of Janice’s time and she is raring to get back to work. ‘I just love my job,’ she says. ‘I couldn’t imagine
doing anything else.’
Words: Suzy Fraser
CHANNELL MAGAZINE, MARCH 2018
Most people find moving house stressful. It is particularly daunting for those who have built up a lifetime of memories and possessions in their current home. Decisions need to be made on downsizing collections and possessions – where do you start? Call the trusted Elderly Assist and Moving Assist team.
The team at Elderly Assist have years of specialist experience in all aspects of downsizing, decluttering and moving to make your journey to your new home the best it can be. Their caring team work with you with confidentiality and respect, including helping with difficult decisions.
For seven years Janice Willis and her team have helped North Shore residents move house with ease, and more recently into Birkenhead’s new Ryman retirement village.
Founder and Owner Janice Willis has gathered a team of people around her of whom she is very proud. She has hand-picked them for their ethical and compassionate approach to their work. “Empathy and ethics are values you can’t teach”, she says. “It’s more about their temperament and morality that decides if I recruit someone onto my team”. They are then police and credit checked before they join this trusted team of professionals.
Janice can also provide add-on services such as liaising with real estate agents, lawyers (and assisting with deceased estates), builders, gardeners, charities and collectors. These valued relationships help make the whole process so much easier.
The team at Elderly Assist will work closely with you, listening to your needs and meeting your expectations. Just call them for a chat and they will soon get you sorted.