As many of you’re aware I recently did something they said couldn’t be done. I moved from postcode 4130 to 4112. That’s right, I crossed the line from the peaceful X5-driving, highly-unemployed-because-of-the-family’s-old-money, leafy streets of Havelot to the Holden vs Ford, everyone-owns-a-vast-collection-of-power-tools, mean streets of the Mai. Pirimai Westside, actually.
So I’ve been going like the clappers setting up the new pad and simply haven’t had the time to write the Bleat I intended to. That being something like, ‘driving external traffic to your website using various SEO and SEM tactics’. Instead, I’ve decided to republish a little something I wrote a year or so ago about a very cool not-so-little-now business borne in Havelot Norde. Enjoy. And I promise I’ll be a good boy and do what I said I would next week. Bleat ya soon!
A few years ago, on a typically sunny Hawke’s Bay afternoon, Ursula and Peter Maidens were driving out to the family bach at Porangahau, when the name of a new business venture came to mind – RockMyBaby (RMB). Following the name, Ursula and Peter worked out exactly what the business would entail. RockMyBaby has since become a successful two-pronged enterprise delivering a babysitting service alongside nanny recruitment and placement.
Growing up, Ursula’s parents owned various childcare centres, so it was no surprise for her to move into the industry she had (almost) been breastfed on. When she was all grown up, Ursula spent close to 19 years prior to RMB working in childcare, and after seven years as a stay-home-mum, found she wanted to kick-start her career. Her thinking started in an obvious and familiar place – kids. And seeing as there wasn’t a babysitting service or a nanny recruitment agency locally, it seemed like filling that gap would make a great business venture. So there was never any turning back.
RMB works like this. Potential babysitters and nannies are vetted by RMB through a thorough checking and screening process before being added to their database. Meanwhile, parents register on the RMB website, and provide a clear outline of exactly what kind of care they’d like for their children. For instance, it may be an occasional evening of babysitting right through the childcare spectrum to a full-time nanny that’s required. RMB contacts who on their database is suitable via text or email. Once the contacted sitter or nanny accepts the potential offer their profile is sent to the parents for acceptance. Then, within 24 hours a face-to-face meeting is arranged, which almost always results in an agreement to care for the children in the required capacity. Apart from an initial registration fee the sitter or nanny has no ongoing costs. Parents are charged per booking and the fee payable to sitters or nannies is made direct in cash following the care or through RMB’s trusty payroll system. Smart, simple and fool-proof. Lovely.
Due to steady growth from the get-go Ursula quickly found the operational management of RMB far too consuming and taxing on her family life. So she decided to begin offering franchise licenses throughout provincial New Zealand to ease the load. Within six months six licenses had been sold – an impressive start and testament to the quality of the RMB offering. The way the franchise licenses work is also very simple. After an initial purchase cost for setup and training the licensees pay RMB a flat weekly fee for the services of the central RMB portal. This is the website which controls all facets of RMB’s activities. From here, franchisees are free to build up as many sitters and nannies on their local database as they can, and provide an unlimited number of bookings to their area. Now I call that a win-win.
But RMB didn’t stop with New Zealand. After selling the six initial licenses they crossed the ditch (at Australia’s request) and have to-date issued master franchise licenses in Queensland and NSW (master licensees then on-sell provincial licenses in their own state). What’s more, Australia’s state run ‘Working with Children’ vetting process has made the task of recruitment much smoother as a lot of the work manually done in New Zealand, to check and screen potential childcarers, is avoided as it’s handled by a government-run process (why doesn’t this happen here?).
Ursula says, “A central key to our success is the way we’ve embraced the technology available to us. After a new recruit has been added to our database the process forward is seamless as it’s all automated through the website”. Additionally, RMB uses online tools such as Smart Payroll and Xero for management of its accounting. They advertise on sites such as kidspot.co.nz and TradeMe, employ Google adword campaigns, and particpate in social media strategies through Facebook and Twitter. Furthermore, all new franchisees receive an iPhone as part of their licensee package – and seriously, who doesn’t want an iPhone as part of any deal?
The Maidens believe their business can be run from Hawke’s Bay just as easily as anywhere. They’ve wrapped an unbelievably successful business around their personal lifestyle choices with the help of technology. But still, it takes some sacrifices. That’s if starting your working day once the kids are at school then finishing up around 2-3pm to spend precious time with your children, before going back to do a few hours in the home office in the evenings, is really that hard to stomach. Hmmm? Yes, successful business does involve a fair amount of commitment, but that’s what the Bay’s made of huh? Tried and true pioneer spirits, intent on getting ahead. And at the end of the day, doing it all for the kids.
Steff @ Ed. (this article was originally written for and published by www.baybuzz.co.nz)