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Just how difficult can it be to start a nanny agency?

(32 Posts)
hobbgoblin Wed 07-Jul-10 21:56:31

As I am in dire straits financially - lost my job in the blink of an eye along with DP and soon my house and car if I don't Do Something - I'm just throwing around possibilities whilst all advice places and offices are closed and all I have is the internet to investigate ideas...

So, I have the experience and contacts but surely every woman with children who wanted to work from home would have thought of this..?

What are the pit falls, anyone know?

I'm pretty desperate so hope this isn't perceived as a sneaky ask on here, I certainly couldn't afford to pay for a media request thingie to ask about this whilst it's just an idea.

FiveGoMadInDorset Wed 07-Jul-10 21:58:09

If you have the experience, the contacts and the drive then you are ahead of the game in my opinion.

hobbgoblin Wed 07-Jul-10 22:00:07

You really think so? There must surely be some BIG Thing I've not thought of, as on the face of it it seems too easy.

I also have a cunning plan to make it niche up my sleeve but this depends on another person to whom I have not put the idea yet.

FiveGoMadInDorset Wed 07-Jul-10 22:02:30

Yes I really do, and I work from home and wouldn't have a clue how to do it and nor would I want to do you have the edge on me.

Are there other nanny agencies in your area? If not why not - is there no demand for nannies?

If it seems too easy and no one else is doing it, there might be a reason!

nannynick Wed 07-Jul-10 22:12:16

Financial Outlay - that is what I feel would be why a lot of people wouldn't do it.

A new agency needs to get known by parents looking for a nanny, plus by nannies with the appropriate experience and qualities that those parents desire. Advertising costs money.

Pit falls - hmm, I suppose there is always the parents who recruit a nanny, which doesn't work out and they want a refund.

hobbgoblin Wed 07-Jul-10 22:15:08

I'm in St Albans where I am pretty sure there is a very high demand given the demographic - lots of families with young children, on the London commute (King's Cross) fairly affluent, etc.

When I was looking for an agency there were the biggies such as 'Tinies' (ironic chuckle) and then literally two that I could find easily, smaller agencies. This is a big city with smaller towns and villages attached just a few miles of the city, full of families.

I haven't researched the above to the point where I can support what I've said with actual data, but you get the idea.

nannynick Wed 07-Jul-10 22:56:55

One good thing is that advertising rates I think are getting lower, as there are less companies with the money to advertise. So may put you in a position to negotiate good rates.
Where would you advertise? Who is your target audience? How can you advertise to your target audience effectively at a reasonable cost?

What will make you different from other agencies... think about how you will be different from say Tinies. What will be your USP?

As a nanny, why should I register with you and not the more widely known agency?

Agencies I've liked the best are the ones which don't send out loads of CVs to parents... instead they MATCH a nanny with a job and put forward just that nanny... or maybe two nannies to give the parents a choice.

As a nanny I like to be told about the job before any arrangement is made to apply for it. Consider how you will work things... parent contacts you and says they want a nanny... you know of a nanny looking who seems a good match, so you mention the job possibility to the nanny... meanwhile you mention the nanny possibility to the parents... get initial impressions from both before sending out full details. Think about how you will work things.

What about nannies who come to you who don't have a CRB check - how will you sort that out?

Legals - consider what legislation may apply to you running the business. How will the ISA situation affect things, now that they have put a hold on certain parts of the scheme.

While there may be parents looking for nannies in St Albans (will have to take your word for that) are there nannies in the area looking for work?

Lots of things to think about. It's certainly doable, it's just a matter of if it will be a profitable business or not and will it have the cashflow to keep ticking over month to month.

Treeesa Wed 07-Jul-10 22:59:26

I am in a similar situation to yourself - well not true as I still have my job.

But I have been planning to set up my own au pair and nanny agency for a long time. I have oodles (I think) of experience of having au pairs and would really like to give up my job and be able to work from home in a field I know a lot about and have enthusiasm for. Problem is it is so difficult to try to set a business up while I am still working..

The biggest problem is financial. I don't have the funds to just stop working and be able to afford the costs of setting the business up. The more I look at everything the more expensive it seems to get. Setting up an office where I can work without being disturbed from my kids for one. Being able to afford the advertising before I become established is another. I have spoken to numerous local newspapers and magazines and the cost of advertising is very high. So the dilemna is until I am turning over a steady income then what money I have will be eaten up very quickly. I have been to the bank and my business plan was almost dismissed. I have to make changes to my cash flow forecasts and the business manager I spoke to highlighted many aspects I hadn't thought about.

I can't afford to pay others so I will have to work long hours in order to interview candidates and to be dealing with potential families to place nannies with. The other issue is persuading possible nannies to come through a new agency when they can go to well established ones. Why would they if I can't offer many choices of jobs.

There is a lot of resources available on the internet about starting up in business, but at the moment it looks to be extremely hard work, very costly in getting anything off the ground and the potential pay back is not so attractibve to make all the hard work seem worth while.

I've just re-read what nannynick says and have said the same as him..!

hobbgoblin Wed 07-Jul-10 23:16:19

The advertising may may things tricky but I am hoping to use my past experience and publicity in order to write a few pieces for publication in exchange for advertisement. Maybe some behaviour management articles throug NCT and Families magazines to at least get a start on marketing myself... I spoke to Families magazine and they seemed interested in this idea.

My USP I hope is to be able to offer a unique nanny vetting system. I am good friends with the CEO of a company that does background checks and whose software is used by the Metropolitan Police. His is the only company in the world to date that has this software and it is protected so there will be no direct competitors. Of course, he charges clients all over the world an arm and a leg for the checks he can carry out but I plan to ask him whether he would consider letting me use his business to carry out individual checks on new nanny recruits at a slightly discounted rate and I would then pass on some of the cost of this through my agency fees. I would not require the scores of checks that the Met do so it would not be a big thing to do on a small portfolio of potential nannies I hope. They checked me when I worked for them! Nobody else would be able to offer such extensive checks - they beat CRB checks hands down - but it all depends on my friend agreeing in principle and then in practise. I haven't even asked yet! However, if I could pull this off I think it would be be a good seling point - what do you think?

It could be a selling point for parents, but would candidates find it intrusive?

hobbgoblin Wed 07-Jul-10 23:20:25

I'd also aim to be a matching agency rather than one that just dishes out CVs. My personality is such that I would get most job satisfaction from taking extra time to match families with nannies and I would hope that my reputation would be built upon attention to detail. Although I realise that the qualitative approach does not spin money as fast as the quantitative does and may be at odds with my reasons for even looking at doing this.

hobbgoblin Wed 07-Jul-10 23:25:05

MUA, possibly. But, there are lots of nannies and fewer jobs these days and so a nanny who is squeaky clean, I imagine, would be prepared to prove this fact in order to land a job. I could be wrong but when I was a nanny I know I'd have been willing to prove my suitability in such a way especially if it put me ahead of the game in finding a decent position.

Does anyone think it would be seriously cheeky of me to even ask my friend to consider doing this? I know in practise to run a dozen or so checks through the software is no biggie, if I were a regular client then it would cost a lot to that client. This is a friend who is very dear to me and so whilst that makes me think they would be more than willing to help, it is also not worth the friendship to screw up by asking the un-askable iyswim.

hobbgoblin Wed 07-Jul-10 23:25:54

I'd be asking for mates rates not freebies by the way.

bubblerock Wed 07-Jul-10 23:33:28

If you are in major dire straits financially I wouldn't start a new business tbh they do drain resources and it is difficult to make a profit whilst starting up - if at all. Could you become employed part time whilst looking into the feasibility of starting an agency?

PaulaMummyKnowsBest Thu 08-Jul-10 08:15:52

hobbgoblin.... I too am in St Albans have have thought about setting up an agency. I have over 18 years experience in childcare (mostly as a nanny).

One of the reasons I haven't acted upon it is that i would hate to go up against Julie at Hawthorne. She is fantastic.

Would you consider working as a night nanny? I am always very busy and have to turn clients away most weeks. There is a real shortage of very good maternity night nannies locally.

Starberries Thu 08-Jul-10 09:16:19

I've wanted to set up an agency for quite a long time. I am in the opposite direction from London than you, and while the demand for nannies in THIS area isn't as great, the demand/supply of nannies in Southwest London (Clapham, etc.) is enormous.

The problem I've had is that I have absolutely no idea where to start, who do I need to apply to, what do I need to apply for, how do I get the CRB's done? Hob, do you know anything about this side of the biz? Or anyone else? I'd really appreciate some advice!

I have the USP down and will also do 'matching' - as a previous nanny I know how annoying it can be when agencies send your CV blindly.

hobbgoblin Thu 08-Jul-10 11:37:19

Frustratingly, Paula, I have to find childcare for my own 4 so it cancels out the cash!

Is a real shame as before I left abusive relationship I had a successful behaviour/sleep training business

StarExpat Thu 08-Jul-10 13:21:48

I have no idea about starting a business but from what I've seen it does eat quite a bit of cash quite quickly... so you're taking a huge risk in case it doesn't really take off and bring in the cash you need, iyswim. Unless you have the capital and then some savings to use if things don't go well.

How awful that you and dh both lost your jobs so quickly So sorry to hear that. How stressful. I hope something works out for you very soon.

PaulaMummyKnowsBest Thu 08-Jul-10 15:47:12

hobbgoblin if your DH isn't working, could he not have the children?

My DH works days and I work nights so that we can juggle our childcare between us.

I think I may have once been in contact with you about helping you very brielfly or am i getting you mixed up with someone else?

hobbgoblin Thu 08-Jul-10 16:35:33

I am LP. I just realised how my OP reads. I've always lived alone with the 4DC - but we were 'together'. Now, we are not.

Yes tis me btw.

frakkit Thu 08-Jul-10 17:36:06

I think it depends and, TBH, matching nannies isn't a USP if you can't get your background checks done. Most small, local agencies do that including one I know that covers the St Albans area.

IMO you would also need to know and be able to advise on - contracts, tax and NI, maternity rights etc. You'd also have to be up to speed on visa regulations and restrictions (to ensure eligibility to work).

I'm periodically tempted but fall down because I'm in a position where I could either be in the same country as the nannies or as the parents/nanny when placed. Will need to move back closer to the UK to make it viable!

hobbgoblin Thu 08-Jul-10 18:46:37

Matching nanies wasn't my USP though, the background checks is and it rather hinges on this as you can see.

frakkit Thu 08-Jul-10 18:58:41

That was my point pretty much! If you have the USP then go for it, but if you don't then it all comes tumbling down rather...

Fingers cross it works for you though. Or that in the worst case you can think up another USP!

Have you tried talking to parents to see whether it's something they're interested in and/or willing to pay for?

Starberries Fri 09-Jul-10 10:51:50

Can anyone please advise (just shortly!) on the legalities - who would you need to go to in order to make this a reality? Is there any 'governing body' as such that has to accredit you? How do you apply to start checking CRB's? Can you just one day claim to be an agency and take nanny/parent details and start up? Surely not?

frakkit Fri 09-Jul-10 20:48:44

Association of Nanny agencies or the people that accredit recruitment agencies might help. I suspect, scarily, it might be as simple as 'I want to be an agency, I'll start now'.

For CRBs you'd either need to register yourself as a registering body or get them done through a checking agency.

BoffinMum Fri 09-Jul-10 21:47:37

What about charging per hour as a nanny finding consultant type person instead of this six weeks net pay rubbish? There used to be a woman around Battersea way that did that, and she found great nannies for people and the parents loved her and did not feel so ripped off.

nannynick Fri 09-Jul-10 21:58:57

CRBs can be done via an Umbrella Body such as Civil & Corporate.

I think Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003 is still the main legislation to do with running an employment business.

I would love to know how agencies decide on their fees... like the concept mentioned by BoffinMum that sounds far more fair.

Blondeshavemorefun Mon 12-Jul-10 21:15:37

i know 2 nannys who run their own agency and it is bloody hard work and takes money,time and effort

both also work part time as nannies to make ends meet, yes fab earning a fee of £1000+ when they place a nanny but some months no one gets placed and still have overheads etc and for first year or 2 they ran at a loss but have no picked up

also depends on area and if many other agencyes about and if lots of nannies etc

BoffinMum Mon 12-Jul-10 21:23:13

You would certainly be able to even out income and control workload more effectively charging an hourly rate, with fewer loss leaders, I think.

Needanewname Mon 12-Jul-10 21:30:54

Its not as easy as you think. I've worked as a nanny and in a couple of nanny agencies.

You get nightmare clients, nannies who don;t have a clue, matches that don;t work out and you need to refund, reference checks have to be done, no one can go out for interviews without a CRB in place (or at least in process).

A lot of hard work for not that much money. Nannynick made some great points.

However saying that, when you do get a great nanny in and a lovely family its great.

Kiki68 Wed 06-Feb-13 11:36:45

Hi there,

I know this thread is two and a half years old, but I was just wondering how any of you got on with starting up your agency. Hobbgoblin, did you go ahead with it?

I am interested in hearing how it went for any of you that tried, as I am keen on starting one myself.

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