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Babysitting Agency

(17 Posts)
DanielleC Wed 10-Aug-05 14:21:18

Hi Guys

I currently work in recruitment and previously worked as a nanny. In my local area there are literally hundreds of children of school age and the area is a reasonably well off one. I was thinking of creating a babysitting agency whereby I recruit babysitters, perhaps childcare students, nannys etc who want evening work. I would ensure they were CRB checked and I would reference check them. Then I would build a database of clients and then when they required anyone send one of my babysitters round. The parents would pay the babysitter at the end of the night directly and I would charge the parents a £6 fee each time they used the service. Obviously I need to look into the legalities of this, insurance etc but I just wondered if as mums you thought this would be a good idea.

I just think how many people use neighbours teenage kids or use ads in shop windows to recruit their babysitters? This way you are guaranteed a certain amount of checks have been done. On the reverse side I would visit each family so the babysitter knows they too have been checked out.

All feedback appreciated re this please!

Thanks

goosey Wed 10-Aug-05 14:50:39

My first thought would be that the parents would soon try to book their favourite sitters direct to save themselves your agancy fee.
Sitters operate a similar service already which is well thought of and I also run a smaller scale babysitting/childminding business with my 17yr old dd (I am a registered childminder and we are both crb checked).
I have found that parents get to know us and are happy to have someone local available to sit, so the idea of a well respected local agency is a good one.
We take along toys and books when we sit to make our service a bit different and we wear our own logoed clothing. I have thought about recruiting friends of dd to join us but have too much currently going on in other areas, and as they will all hopefully be off to uni next year it would be too much admin to take on.

JELLYJELLY Wed 10-Aug-05 14:54:36

I currently work for Sitters who charge only £4 per booking so £6 does sound alot to book someone that isnt qualified and i wouldnt pay it. How much were you planning on charging the parents per hour for someone that is not yet qualified? Would you have qualified staff or just college students?

I dont think you would be able charge such a good fee for people who are not yet qualified versue those who are such as childminders, nannies, nurses etc or are you going to have a sliding scale for different people. What were you thinking of charging perhour?

What about first Aid? Are you going to make sure that each sitter is trained?

I would never recuit a sitter through a shop window and i wouldnt ask someone to sit that didnt have first aid. I know qualifications are not everything but i wouldnt hire someone that was fresh out of school.

I am not trashing your idea but trying to inform you of what other parents might think.

What about if parents need a babysitter at short notice and you couldnt get out to visit them, would you turn down the work?
If you want any other help just cat me.

Ameriscot2005 Wed 10-Aug-05 15:28:43

I use either my au pair or one of the teenagers from church for babysitting. I would not hire a stranger from a shop window, or from an agency.

There are babysitting agencies around though - I'm sure you can look at their websites to see how they operate.

DanielleC Wed 10-Aug-05 15:37:02

Hi Jelly Jelly

Thank you for that feedback that is really interesting.

Obviously I'm still very much at the ideas stage. I live in West Yorkshire and where I live there aren't currently anything like sitters that I know of providing these services.

I know that a lot of parents in my area use babysitters who are unqualified and not even in training so I thought being able to offer qualified child carers and those currently on a child care course would be of interest - I guess it's a case of knowing your market.

The first aid certification is also a good point to ensure the sitters have.

Obviously I will need to sit down and look at charges etc in more detail, I just wanted some general feedback on whether people felt this would be useful in an area where no similar services exist. There is one agency but it only supplies nannys for nanny work.

Goosey, my thoughts were to start babysitting for the families in the area myself, get a feel for what there needs are etc and then slowly build the business from there. I used to do a lot of work in the area a couple of years ago so luckily the reputation is there. I like the idea of bringing your own toys, games etc and a logoed outfit - gives a more professional impression overall doesn't it.

Hmm some good points to think about there, thank you.

More feedback greatly appreciated - it's better to think of all the objections and obstacles now before I get to the pointof setting anything up!

cacaboo Wed 10-Aug-05 16:12:57

We have an agency in our area, it costs about £30 to join it for a year, then there is a fee of £3.50 for each booking.

From what I recall, they don't use college students very often - generally qualified people(nannies, childminders etc).

We found it very useful at certain times - a Saturday night near Christmas for example - when all friends / relatives who might otherwise babysit for us were likely to be busy.

However we don't use it all that often apart from those occasions - cheaper to do baby sitting exchanges for friends with kids, or pay friends without kids the same rate without the booking fee.

One thing I remember from the application form was needing to put down details of pets, I assumed that was to do with allergies?

goldenoldie Wed 10-Aug-05 16:31:41

I would not use a stranger - ever.

goosey Wed 10-Aug-05 16:47:17

DanielleC another thing I always do is to invite all parents who initially enquire via telephone to come to my house first to meet me (either with or without their children) and to see my paperwork etc. Most parents have taken me up on this offer and are reassured when they see my own home and family and read references I have from other parents. If they do not wish to visit me then I always insist on meeting them first in their own homes and taking as much paperwork as possible. We have pre-printed forms which are for the parents to fill in their child's details including medical hx, gp's details, and allergies and contact details. This is confidential info and always stays with the parents for them to produce and leave out on each occasion they require our service.(I do make a note of each child's dob though - so we can send them a birthday card!)
I have also designed my own website which promotes the babysitting as well as my childminding and we get lots of enquiries through that too.
We get good feedback and lots of repeat bookings, so I think it would be very sucessful in your area especially if you have got the reputation and leads to start you off as a lot of work is by word of mouth.

Ladymuck Wed 10-Aug-05 22:35:46

I use an agency. From memory the charges are £75 for the year plus £3 per booking (the booking fee is paid to the sitter who then forwards on to the agency). The sitters each commit a certain number of nights per month to the agency including at least 2 Saturday nights. The sitters are all childcare qualified or experienced, and all have an up to date first aid certificate. Agency conditions require that you don't poach sitters - I assume that the sitters have a similar requirement.

Each sitter has their own folder with references/certificates etc. The agency does a formal interview and follow up on references, though you also can do this.

I used the agency as whlst I had "babies" as I wanted someone who had relevant experience. Now that they are out of the baby phase I have a 17 yo girl living next door who is getting extra spending money.

nannynick Sat 13-Aug-05 00:38:29

I have been babysitting for over 15 years and get all my work via the internet, or by word of mouth... not via an Agency.

Over the years I have learnt a lot about what parents want when they look for a babysitter at least in the Surrey / Berkshire area. Typically parents are not wanting young teenagers but someone more experienced in childcare. They do not want membership fees, booking fees, but instead will pay on a per-evening basis. They want to have the same person do the babysitting and they would like to meet that person before they babysit. I do come across families who don't mind having anyone turn up, and who don't want to meet the person first, but they are the minority I find.

Over the past few years I, like yourself, have considered running a babysitting agency but there are some issues that need sorting out, insurance and employment status of 'employees' are both tricky. There is also the issue of collecting payments - taking credit cards costs money and on small transactions, it can be a set minimum fee, rather than just a percentage (so find a nice bank).

Having spoken with several nanny agency owners this year regarding such matters, one thing they all say is tricky is making sure you have a sitter available when a parent wants someone. Finding reliable 'staff' is tricky, you get some who will say they will do a job, then come back to you later and say they won't do it after all - at this stage you've already committed to the customer, so you need to sort it (I've known agency managers to do the babysitting themselves).

Good luck in what you are trying to do. I'd love to find a way of doing it that works for everyone involved, with babysitters being paid reasonable amounts while still making it affordable for parents.

UKMickey Sat 13-Aug-05 00:53:37

Out of interest why are parents charged a booking fee when they have already paid a membership?

A friend who also work within a nanny agency who also runs a professional babysitting agency.. they charge a membership only & the nannies are paid directly @ the end of the sitting from parents. All staff are experienced childcare professionals & fully checked out & all membership clients have have a named nanny when chosen so they have the continuaty... all nanny/babysitters have never let the agency/families down... Of course for real illnesses & bad news, then last minute another nanny/babysitter is found usually the back-up choice. This agency has been running sucessfully for 18yrs.... so it can be done also average age of nanny etc is 30-35yrs ++

Tortington Sat 13-Aug-05 01:18:22

think its business advertising is it not - cough up £25 smackeroonies.

UKMickey Sat 13-Aug-05 02:01:10

Custardo
I don't really think so, no agency names have been mentioned (deliberately)& also I have not had permission to do so( & I know I would not be given permission any way... especially because of the regs here...professional courtesy)

I also believe nannynick is also only answering DanielleC & giving an example by displaying his own (smile). Upon reading other threads etc I have noticed childminders etc have used theirs...also I believe as examples or when asking parents upon sites for further advice etc whether liked or not or further info to be included.

I remember a while back when someone was trying to decide to sort out there website & wanted to call their business name one thing but the after school wanted it to be called another! lots of very interesting genuine feedback from the page.

Yes good luck DanielleC

nannynick Sat 13-Aug-05 10:23:34

Custardo,
While you do have a point, I do not feel that it is a blatent advert and is far more an example.
It is not like the blatent advertising we see from childminders, like these threads:
Childminder Epsom
Do you need a childminder
Childminder Vacancies
I'm sure if the moderator disapproved of such threads they would be removed, so far, they have not.

nannynick Sat 13-Aug-05 10:27:02

>Out of interest why are parents charged a booking fee when they have already paid a membership?

I think that a lot of agencys copy a well known agency [hey it's hard not writting any Names, Custardo... lets just say they rythme with pitters], and thus they charge a sort of joining fee and then booking fees on top. I would have thought that the joining fee pays for the initial visit to the family (to check they are who they claim to be and not complete nutters) and towards the cost of vetting 'employees'.

Ladymuck Sat 13-Aug-05 11:29:09

The per booking fee is because there is more work servicing a family who books a babysitter 3 times a week, than there is for a family who books once a month. The annual fee is really to avoid the situation of having a family who only books once a year or thereabouts (which again is expensive to service).

UKMickey Fri 19-Aug-05 01:27:22

Yes sounds like "pitters" did indeed copy another service.... the other service had to have friendly words with them...hence changing their original/beginnings to present.

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