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To ask for opinions on this business idea

(48 Posts)
CountryMummy1 Fri 31-Oct-14 20:42:46

I am now a stay at home mum. My husband works in FE and his job is not secure so we are looking at trying to start our own business. As we both have a background in education then we would like to venture into this area.

I have come up with the idea of emergency childcare. I know that there is a large national website that does just this but none of my friends have had an success with it in our area.
My idea is to start an emergency childcare business that really steps in when you need them. Using current part-time/ex teachers, nannies, nurses etc. Vet them myself and only take the very good ones. I am highly qualified in the area of Early Years and Education so I think I know what to look for.

We would offer emergency care in your own home or ours at very short notice so if your child wakes up unwell and you simply cannot take the day off work (it happens!) then someone could come round to look after them. Other situations could be if the childminder is ill, nursery is shut, family emergency etc.

I'm only just starting to think about it but any advice/opinions would be welcomed. We would hopefully start local and then branch out.

Singmetosleepzzz Fri 31-Oct-14 20:48:59

Can you elaborate a bit more on why the existing emergency childcare companies are failing for your friends?

CountryMummy1 Fri 31-Oct-14 20:50:44

They have just never had anyone available and the few times they have it has been with a childminder at the childminder's house with other children so not suitable if your child is under the weather or you want one-to-one care.

ThinkAboutItTomorrow Fri 31-Oct-14 20:50:48

It's a good idea but I guess I'd want to know what you would offer that the nationals don't and how? For me out of hours and fast response would be key. So if my nanny or child is ill at 7am can you get someone to me for 8.30?

GreenPetal94 Fri 31-Oct-14 20:51:14

Obviously there is a market for this, but How would you ensure the people working for you had enough work, in the setup phase?

Singmetosleepzzz Fri 31-Oct-14 20:52:44

Ah I see, agree with PP timing is so important - a bit like when a school calls for agency cover teachers. If you could guarantee a certain wait time then it would be very useful!

CountryMummy1 Fri 31-Oct-14 20:53:42

It would be a very local service to start with so we would be able to offer a very prompt response. At the start I would take on people who were only looking for part-time work or who were already working part time but wanted a bit of extra work where possible ....rather like supply teaching I suppose

CountryMummy1 Fri 31-Oct-14 20:57:43

Thanks for all the questions! It's really making me think and is very useful!

raltheraffe Fri 31-Oct-14 21:00:12

I think it is a bloody brilliant idea!

However I would urge caution about being to niche. Why not be a general childcare company whose USP is we will help you with evenings, weekends and last minute emergencies.

If you do a great job on a last minute emergency, you may find the parents will want to use you for regular childcare, so do not limit your target market.

Spend a few hundred drawing up watertight T&Cs. If you are going to employ the staff I would recommend you speak to Peninsula Business Services who are fantastic for HR and employment law advice. If you are working as an agency, taking on s/e staff make sure your contract with the customer is watertight so when something goes wrong, you are not the one facing a lawsuit.

Remember just one bad incident can tarnish your whole brand, so be very careful who you take on.

Also do not bother in the first instance shelling out too much on an uber-flashy website, liveried cars, uniforms etc. People do business with people, not with flashy logos.

dogscatsandbabies Fri 31-Oct-14 21:03:58

Great idea. Difficult to overcome some practical obstacles. What would phase me the most would be the realities of finding enough staff to really be able to guarantee the service you're looking to offer, who fit your criteria

Only the best
Available short notice
Willing to maintain availability even in the absence of work (I.e won't feel the need to get something else if your business is slow to get going)

I don't know that many folks these days who see work as a take it or leave it thing. We either need to, or don't. Those that need to will not be satisfied until you have a thriving, busy business and will need other work that will likely take priority. Those that don't are not overly likely to answer the phone at 5am.

arethereanyleftatall Fri 31-Oct-14 21:04:47

This is one of those things that sounds like a good idea, but really in practice how would it work? You have to have someone available completely randomly at one hours notice. How many people would you need on you books to cover that?
When me and dh were both woh thus is a service I would have begged for....for about one or two days out of three years. I'm just not sure how that would work as a business model.

LynetteScavo Fri 31-Oct-14 21:08:57

I think it would be great for something like chicken pox.

How would it work? I'm the kind of person not to register for something, especially if you have to pay....and then decide at 7am I need childcare NOW, and will happily pay over the odds for it. grin

One of my biggest child care problems is when I have to work late. After school club finishes at 5.30. I won't be home until 7.30, which is too much of an ask for an after school play date. Someone to collect my DC, and bring them home for tea as a one off, rather than a regular thing, would be perfect.

raltheraffe Fri 31-Oct-14 21:09:57

I think it could work very well as a business model. Obviously for night and last minute work you would be charging a premium price and paying staff time and a half.

arethereanyleftatall Fri 31-Oct-14 21:10:45

Thinking more on this... You would either have to pay someone a salary to be available whether there's work or not I.e very risky, could be paying them with no cash coming in. Or, you would only pay people as and when they work which means they have no responsibilty and could say 'no thanks, I'm busy today' ie also risky

raltheraffe Fri 31-Oct-14 21:13:20

arethereanyleftatall zero hours contracts, and a cancellation policy in the small print-both easy problems to circumvent

raltheraffe Fri 31-Oct-14 21:15:09

from experience OP I would avoid the s/e cash in hand business model and have employees, submitting all data to HMRC.

I once had a cash in hand agency and it only lasted a month as all applicants were also signing on and I was concerned it would tarnish the brand

fluffling Fri 31-Oct-14 21:24:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Thereshallbeaspirin Fri 31-Oct-14 21:24:56

What you need to do is partner with a local supply teacher company, and use the same people. You need a wide pool of people available at short notice, supply teachers need assurance of a reasonable amount of call-up. So win-win. This way you can get teachers to tick yay/nay to nanny-type work and they will know the probability of regular work increases hugely, whilst your clients are reassured by quals and criminal checks, etc. this is far more important in an emergency than how touchy-feely, lovey-dovey the staff you supply might be.

Problem is what's in it for the supply teacher orgs to support you in this and not do it themselves (answer - a cut of the fees).

Teeb Fri 31-Oct-14 21:33:55

It is one of those ideas that sounds brilliant, but in practice I'm not sure how you would deliver all that you promise while still being a successful the area you live in affluent? Because I'd expect the kind of childcare service you are considering to be £££, so unless the fee you'd be charging is less than the average persons day rate at work it won't work. People won't pay £200 if they earn £100 a day at work, they'd just take the day as unpaid leave.

It will be a very fine balancing act between keeping all the staff on your boos happy, as well as ensuring you provide the service that your customers would expect.

That's before you even get to things like logistics, in Lynette's example, would you know you would be working late in the morning? Or would it dawn on you as the afternoon approached? I don't know if schools would be happy to hand over kids to unknown people, or how these random childcare workers would gain access to the home etc etc.

nannynick Fri 31-Oct-14 21:43:51

You need to know childcare law well.

>We would offer emergency care in your own home or ours at very short notice

Care in the child's home, in England, is unregulated. If a childcare provider provides care in their [the providers] home, then that is regulated. It would be Childminding.

Why do the companies currently offering emergency care usually offer a childminder? Well my guess is that it is due to cost and due to the childminder having a space to take a child at short notice.

As a nanny, I simply do not have the capacity to care for a child at short notice. I am committed under contract to my employer. On my days off, then I might do it but it has to be worth my while as I am sacrificing my day off to a care for a child I don't know, at a location I don't know.

I have done nursery temping in the past, that is similar to what you describe. The nursery calls the temp agency at late notice to say they need someone fast - right now, or next morning. The agency then calls people on their list to see who can do it, get there for the time the client needs.
With nursery temping you get to know the nurseries after a while as you do repeat visits, if they like you they will request you.

Problem though is that for me as the childcarer, I had to be available very early in the day and often there would be no demand. So I would have no work but would have been ready (fed, dressed) since 6am waiting for the agency to call. The pay level (think it was £8 gross an hour back then, this is some 10 years ago) was good for nursery work but you didn't know how long you would be doing. Some times it may be 8 hours, other times it may just be for 3 or 4 hours. Very unpredictable, so was useless from the point of view of the provider in terms of being a steady income. I was employed by the agency, the agency sorted out Income Tax, NI, payslips and I had timesheets that had to be signed and returned to the agency.

You need to make it viable for everyone involved. That will mean it will be costly for the client. Would they pay enough to cover the cost wanted by the childcarer, to cover the admin costs (and taxes) of running the business, cover the advertising costs involved and resulting in a profit for you, the business owner.

The cost of 1:1 care is high. Thus why I expect many emergency care providers use childminders, as a childminder would be caring for a number of children and offers a lower per-child cost, then it would be to have a nanny on a 1:1 basis.

nannynick Fri 31-Oct-14 22:10:32

Just had a look on the nursery agency website. They now pay £8.62 per hour and they charge £14 per hour to the nursery.

There are only a certain number of nurseries in a given area - and you can find out where they are, make appointments to see them, get them to agree to use you as a supply agency.

When targeting parents - how do you know were they are? How many of them are in your area? How would you advertise the service and what would it cost to constantly be in the forefront of parents minds?
Once they have used the service once, then yes they may well store the phone number and use it again. However it's getting the client in the first place that I suspect is going to be your hardest thing to do... and most costly.

One of the emergency childcare providers uses a network of local branches they already have and market their service mostly to large corporations. Sure it may not work perfectly but their advertising costs I suspect are not as large as they would be if they were directly targeting parents. By having the service as a 'company benefit', it is something that parents employed by the company may be more likely to consider using - I wonder if the company ever pays part of the cost? I can only guess at how the large emergency care companies operate but I feel it's an educated guess. Find out from those people who have used it, exactly how it works - how come they knew to call the emergency care company? Was there any incentive to do so, such as it being offered at a special rate as it was part of their company benefit package?

CountryMummy1 Fri 31-Oct-14 22:10:39

Some good food for thought there. I was worried that pricing was an issue. My nanny charges £10 an Hour so emergency would have to be higher than this to cover costs.

BreakOutTheKaraoke Fri 31-Oct-14 22:25:33

I think I would look to similar models offered by previous posters- offering a niche childcare service. I work in retail, and would have killed for childcare that fitted in with my hours- school pick up at 3.30, through til 8-9.30 at night, or early morning from 6 til doing the school drop off. Those in nursing careers often need someone on nights, or weekends are hard to cater for too.

vestandknickers Fri 31-Oct-14 22:33:02

If your child was ill why on earth would you want a stranger looking after them?

wimblehorse Fri 31-Oct-14 22:42:17

I used sitters when dd had pox - arranged the day before & got a supply teacher for £50 for 7 hour day outskirts of London. No experience of whether they could have arranged same day but they claim to...

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