Michael Fazio has been catering to the whims of the elite since Charlie Sheen tossed him a few bucks in the ’80s to go buy an ashtray. Since then, his penchant for behind-the-scenes support has flourished into a partnership in a premier Manhattan concierge service. His book, Concierge Confidential, unearths select secrets to seamlessly gliding his gilded clients past the velvet ropes.
What prompted you to reveal your secrets?
Navigating the landscape of all things service oriented can be complicated and very frustrating. I wanted to open people’s eyes with a new philosophy about service and access based more on strategy than happenstance.
What’s one of the wildest celebrity requests you've ever had to plan?
A famous film star texted me on a Thursday. The request was to “pull together” a party for her daughter in L.A., and I was asked for some ideas. I offered up the usual…cute waiters, cute hors d’oeuvres, couture cupcakes, theme cocktails, etc. Sounded great. Done. Done.
I’m 25 percent on my way to confirming everything when I was asked if I could get the caterer to create a theme cocktail in a coconut shell “like on an island.” By Thursday night, I was now arranging for an entire South Pacific themed party. By Saturday at party time, I had fire dancers, hula lessons, hot waiters in grass skirts, a whole pig on the barbecue, coconut everything and a tab for $25K.
All in a day’s work.
What’s the worst behavior you've experienced?
A corporate celebrity (HUGE) asked my office to return a pair of sunglasses that he had purchased. The store didn’t recognize the glasses and then discovered that they were from two or three seasons in the past. They knew who my client was, so they tried to be as gracious as possible, but the glasses were 2 or 3 years old. Even though my client is very well known, he hadn’t been a regular customer other than this one pair of glasses. He was furious with us when we said the store would offer a $500 credit but would not refund his credit card based on how old the purchase was. He had a temper tantrum like I’ve never heard. He actually had his legal department get involved. It was disgusting and a waste of time and energy.
And the best?
I can tell you Whoopi Goldberg has the best manners of any client I have ever assisted. She always sends thank-you notes to me and my team, and she is always the favorite person anywhere we send her. Granted, she’s a bigger-than-life personality, but people are always wowed by how classy and polished she is.
How do you maintain your humor and sanity in an industry catering to an echelon of entitled society?
It’s a case of keeping perspective and remembering that I owe my career to people who don’t feel confined to some of the boundaries, financially or otherwise, that the larger majority of people are limited by. I also make it a point to stop myself in the midst of a crazy day and take inventory of what my workday looks like. Then I compare that to what my workday would look like if I worked at Goldman Sachs. I have a feeling my “to-do” list is more entertaining.
Who’s the ideal client?
The client who sees the service industry as a real profession and can accept the fact that my specialty is to take care of them is the most fulfilling type of client because they don’t try to second guess or challenge my help. Instead, they sit back and enjoy. It’s almost uncanny how everything always seems to go right for them. These are the clients who say money is no object and then wind up getting something for free.
Michael Fazio with Michael Malice
St. Martin’s / Feb. 1, 2011 / 9780312643768 / $24.99