Penny Morriss was just starting her professional career when she found a job as a concierge at one of Atlanta’s premier office buildings. She didn’t know it then, but that first job was the cornerstone of her career as a leader in concierge services. Today, Penny is the owner and president of Concierge Services of Atlanta, which serves many of Atlanta’s foremost residential and commercial buildings.
How did you begin your career in concierge services?
I am originally from Texas, moved to Atlanta and was hired in January 1988 as the first office building concierge for Prentiss Properties at the IBM Tower (now called One Atlantic Center). What is ironic is that when I took the job, I had no idea what a concierge was or what they did. In fact, I interviewed with several people from the company, and none of them knew, either. A woman’s intuition is something we should listen to, and my gut told me to take this job. Even though I took a pay cut, it was the best career decision and job I have ever had.
When people hear concierge, they think of staying in a hotel. Are your services similar?
The services we provide are very much like a hotel concierge, except the biggest difference is our clients live in condominiums or high-end apartments, or they have offices in one of our commercial properties. In most of our condominiums, we have staff in the lobbies 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and we perform a variety of tasks for the residents and management office.
In our office buildings we are looked at as an amenity for all the tenants that is provided by the management company. We plan events, book conference rooms, set up Lunch-N-Learns, organize lobby shows and promote our ticket and vendor program to the tenants. We are given a budget and can use our creativity in coming up with ideas for any event. We work with charities during the holidays also, like Toys For Tots, Atlanta Community Food Bank and Angel Tree with the Salvation Army, and get all tenants involved.
What services do you offer that anyone can enjoy?
CSA is one of Atlanta’s largest ticket purchasers from most venues. I have a ticket coordinator on my staff who works with all the venues and with CSA employees — helping them sell tickets to Chastain Park concerts, events at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, the Atlanta Symphony, the Alliance Theatre, Braves and Falcons, etc. Any company can become a member of our ticket club and have access to our ticket program. We also have access to “hard-to-get” tickets, like The Masters, the Kentucky Derby, Wimbledon and the US Open.
We also have the “The Answer Is Yes” program for anyone that needs errand-running services for an hourly fee. We can grocery shop, plan weekly meals, arrange for meals to be prepared and delivered, have someone sit in your house to wait for a repair person, arrange for pet sitting or dog walking, take care of wrapping packages during the holidays and shipping, if needed.
Where are your favorite places to shop?
How do you begin your day?
If I don’t have a morning meeting, I walk or work out. And I usually eat oatmeal or nonfat Greek yogurt with berries and almonds for breakfast. Good Morning America is always on in the background.
If you weren’t in your current job, what would you love to do?
I would be a travel and food writer. I love to travel, and everyone in my family is a foodie, including me. That would mean experiencing great restaurants in incredible cities all over the world.
If you could change one thing about Atlanta, what would it be?
Not much. It is pretty much perfect with four distinct seasons, affordable, great restaurants and shopping. We are driving distance to the mountains and to the beach. And it is a great place to do business. If I had to change one thing I would improve the traffic and transportation issues.
What are you most looking forward to this spring?
Outdoor dining at the many great restaurants here (such as Bistro Niko), walking the path at Chastain and the outdoor concerts there, and the beautiful flowers and trees everywhere.
What are three of your favorite things?
Fried Oyster Salad at The Optimist
Trips to Santa Fe, which I have been taking for 32 years
What is a treat or a luxury you indulge in?
A mint chocolate chip milkshake at Chick-fil-A and massages — preferably a hot stone massage.
What is a valuable piece of advice you have been given?
No risk, no reward. If you do not take a risk in life — not just in business — you will never know what reward awaits you. Once a risk is taken and it works out, that builds confidence. When I took the risk of moving to a new city, not knowing many people and taking a job I knew nothing about, I really lived the advice of “no risk, no reward” that I give so many people.
When friends visit Atlanta, what activities do you think are a must?
The Atlanta Botanical Garden, especially over the holidays and in the spring and summer. Outdoor concerts at Chastain and visits to the Georgia Aquarium. And it is always fun to drive visitors around to see the beautiful houses and neighborhoods.
What meal at a local restaurant has wowed you?
A couple of years ago when my brother was in town we went to Bacchanalia. Such amazing food, service and wine.
What are three things you cannot live without, excluding faith, family, and friends?
Lipstick and ChapStick. My lips are always chapped, and regular lipstick makes me not look so pale!
Delta frequent flier points
And, a big thank you to our FACES photographer, Cat Maxwell!