Mary Poppins’ flying umbrella act is a cheap trick compared with Rebecca Vidmore’s nanny agency.
In 1994, Vidmore was 22 and a nanny in a “prominent” neighborhood making $1,600 a month. When other families in the neighborhood started asking her to find them nannies of their own, however, one of her employers saw an opportunity and recommended that she start charging people for her nanny-finding services.
Vidmore got a business license in Bellevue for $20, took an ad out in The Seattle Times and installed a second, business, phone line out of her duplex.
“So the ad in the Seattle Times led to all of these families calling me at the same time saying, ‘is this a nanny service?’” Vidmore said. “I made $5,000 when my family was on vacation for those two weeks, when I was 22 years old. I picked them up from the airport and I told them how I did and they were totally shocked. Four weeks later I had to quit my nanny job because the business went crazy.”
A Nanny for U, which is what she called her agency, grew by about 30 percent every year for the first four or five years, Vidmore said. After moving out of her duplex into a larger house, she began to hire her first office employees, and in 1999 she moved into office space.
By starting the company herself and letting it grow organically, Vidmore said she learned how to build relationships with staff and clients in a way that she believes gives A Nanny for U a competitive edge over other nanny agencies. She calls the practice its “external processing system.”
“Our staff has a different take, sort of, on our relationships,” she said. “So every single client is a relationship, every single nanny is a relationship, even if it’s short term. It’s a relationship, and it’s our job to build that and give them a great impression, and to care more than the other companies, and when you give everyone that service and care, everyone is coming back, everyone’s telling a friend, everyone wants to be part of our network if you will.”