Every week on The Primer we ask a local business or product to introduce themselves in eight simple takes. This week we talk to Georgia Meek, founder of The Babysitters Club, an online agency connecting families with babysitters.
ONE: How did The Babysitters Club start and what was the inspiration behind it?
The idea for The Babysitters Club was sparked in 2013 when I was in the second year of my primary school teaching degree. Already busy with study and work, I wanted a way to get more experience with children without losing the balance of my schedule. I loved the interaction with children so much and not long after, I landed myself a year as an au pair in London through the babysitting club I had set up. Through this experience, it became clear to me that every interaction contributed to the person you became, which inspired me to return to New Zealand to make a positive difference in children’s lives while giving their parents a break. Our service is built on this mission and every sitter that joins is chosen because they believe in it too. My dream is that every sitter is the children’s favourite — the kind of sitter they remember for years to come. I only hire sitters who go the extra mile and have a genuine desire to make a positive impact.
TWO: Did you have any interest/experience in business or entrepreneurship prior to starting The Babysitters Club?
When I was around nine years old, I sold sell flowers at the front of my house so that I could go to the ‘bead shop’ and make jewellery. That was the extent of my business experience prior to The Babysitters Club.
THREE: What sort of measures do you take in order to make sure all your babysitters are vetted and trustworthy?
We have a very thorough process when it comes to allowing sitters to become part of The Babysitters Club. We understand the responsibility that goes with caring for a child and every parent’s peace of mind is priceless.
We go through each sitter’s application letter and then interview them if we believe they’re going to be a good fit for our company. We go over very in-depth questions in our interview process, finding out about the sitter’s experience, personality, values, babysitting style and beliefs, and the way they would handle difficult situations should they arise.
If they’re a good fit, we then police-check, reference check and induct the sitter to ensure they meet our company standards and understand all health and safety requirements. We’re always in close contact with every individual sitter throughout their time with us and keep in touch with the families that they babysit for.
FOUR: What about the families/homes? What sort of measures do you take in order to make sure they’re also vetted and trustworthy?
The safety of our sitters is equally as important to us as the safety of the children they’re caring for. We get as much information as we can on every client who puts a booking request through our system (we’ve turned clients away in the past when we felt unsatisfied with the checks we conducted on them). We have processes and systems in place that allow our sitters to understand what they need to do in order to be safe for any job they attend.
FIVE: Can families/homes choose their babysitter (ie: ask for someone specifically) or are they randomly assigned when they book through the service?
Of course! It’s really important to us that parents have the ability to choose a sitter that they believe is best suited to their family’s needs. We allow parents to choose from sitters who are experienced with the ages of their children and who are available for the date/time the parent has booked for.
It’s also important that families have as much consistency as possible. Therefore, if a family likes a sitter they’ve had in the past, we always give that sitter first priority on that family’s jobs when they need a sitter again.
SIX: What sort of rate are your babysitters paid compared to the wider childcare market? Does The Babysitter’s Club take any commission and if so, how much?
We don’t really like to go too much into detail about these aspects as they’re part of what keeps us separate from our competitors. We do have some sitters however who earn up to $600 a week from working a few jobs. But we pride ourselves on paying our sitters well because they’re worth their weight in gold.
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SEVEN: Do you have any other plans to scale/grow further and if so, what are they?
We’re already growing rapidly, which has resulted in us creating a very exciting tech platform that’s going to allow us to scale in a much more sustainable way.
EIGHT: Lastly, tell us about a New Zealand start-up or business that you really admire right now.
Delivereasy is a company I truly admire. Despite being up against global competitors, they’ve been nailing the market and provide an awesome food delivery service. I love seeing young Kiwis who are innovative and don’t let others hold them back from making their dreams a reality. It’s cool to see more and more New Zealand businesses displaying passion, determination and courage to get them to their end goal.
The Spinoff’s business section is enabled by our friends at Kiwibank. Kiwibank backs small to medium businesses, social enterprises and Kiwis who innovate to make good things happen.