In today’s feature of the Nanny Spotlight Series, we’re chatting with Orlando based nanny matchmaking service The Nanny Whisperer, who says, “we believe so strongly that a positive match based on similar values is essential to giving children an environment to strive.”
The Nanny Whisperer
Kristen Lockaby & Sheri Wantuck
Tell us about The Nanny Whisperer:
Our mission is to take the nanny machining service to the next level and match not just on schedules, but on values, ideals and personality. We’re involved with every match – every nanny, every family. We are a part of the entire process from start to finish. I have an extensive background in the nanny field for over ten years and Sheri is a behaviour analyst that has worked in local schools for the last seven years.
What was the initial development phase like?
It was my dream to start my own business. I saw the faults in the process and all the things that I could expand upon. The business had been up and running in San Francisco for a year, when life happened and moved me to Orlando. The relocation presented the opportunity to bring Sheri on board to enable TNW to reach full potential.
Besides co-managing TNW, you each keep busy with your own careers as well?
Kristen Lockaby, Founder and Co-owner
I have a vast array of experience in this industry – from spending over ten years as a nanny to working coast-to-coast at nanny placement agencies. I believe children are every family’s most prized members and their care is of the utmost importance. I provide care for children, whilst developing lifelong relationships with several families based on mutual respect and care for each other. These experiences inspired me to create TNW to help other families find a childcare experience with more depth than the average employee-employer relation.
Sheri Wantuck, Co-owner
Sheri brings experience in human resources, childcare, and behaviour analysis to ensure the matching process is a positive for the family and nanny. With over 16 years of experience working with children in a variety of areas, she has seen that one of the most important decisions a family can make is who will be in the home with their children. Her professional experiences of interviewing, hiring, and working in homes and schools has helped her partner with Kristen to develop a successful method to matching nannies and families for long-term, successful matches. Sheri understands that a nanny is not just an employee, but a part of the family. The nanny is a person you trust with your most precious part of your life.
How did you come to work together on TNW?
The Nanny Whisperer Orlando started as an adventure. It was a drive across the country to start fresh in Florida. When I first met Sheri I was extremely excited. Sheri was one of the first friends I made here. We clicked over our love for food and a particular restaurant in San Francisco, which was both our favourites. I knew Sheri was going to be the perfect match to help me carry The Nanny Whisperer to Orlando. Having Sheri on board is the perfect compliment to the business. She brings knowledge of the physcology, and her own nanny experience enhances the services we provide to families. Not only do we provide families with well-qualified nannies, but we examine the potential match from the inside out and guide families along in the process. Having someone who understands personally matches and the psychology behind a relationship is the best possible combination.
What’s your time management like?
Our schedules vary and this is a bonus job for us, so we are in constant communication to help balance both our schedules and to function as a team. There are constant texts sent throughout the day and night, along with phone calls and emails.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far in the set up of TNW?
Time has been the biggest struggle. Getting the word out about our service has proved difficult because it is uncommon and takes some time to explain. Once we explain the process, people are very interested and excited.
Who are your main clients at the moment?
In San Francisco, families are looking for live in and full time nannies. In Orlando, there’s more a need for part time and date night nannies.
Do you have a particular “brand” of nannies you employ?
We don’t have a pool of nannies constantly as each search is individualised to the family. Since there are so many colleges in town, the bulk of nannies are college students majoring in education.
In terms of professional development, what do you like to see your nannies take on to further their knowledge and education?
We provide a Best Nanny Practices, and Sheri trains on behaviour functions to better equip the nanny in a variety of scenarios.
How would you like to see TNW evolve in the next 12 months?
Naturally we’d like to keep expanding and have person-to-person recommendations. We are part of the nanny community and want to help it grow.
What does a typical weekday look like for you?
We don’t have typical work days! Sheri has the TNW phones and emails during the school day because she has more flexibility during the day and works until late evening. Then I take over TNW after school hours. If we are on a nanny search, we plan nanny interviews on evenings and weekends and do our phone interviews by appointment on our lunch hour.
What’s on your desk right now?
We don’t have an office so we literally can work from anywhere. Our favourite type of place of work is somewhere we can eat!
You also have a blog on my website. Tell us about that.
Blogging is a great way to connect with out clients and people within the childcare realm. It seems to be a good way to meet out clients and let them know a bit more about ourselves and for readers to see our passion in the industry.
How do you find the nanny community in America?
The nanny community is ever changing. Being a babysitter in our younger years and passing out flyers has really changed to what it is now. To us we believe it has now come full circle in many ways. The internet sites to help people find sitters can be helpful but we take the service offline and give it that personal touch it had before it was done through a website. The Florida market is different to that in San Francisco, it seems that many families are much less aware of our service but as we educate people about how we can help them, the parents get very excited.
Will we see you at the International Nanny Conference in Mexico for 2015?
We’re not sure yet, but we’d love to go!
Your favourite things to do with kids whilst out and about?
There is so much amazing wildlife here in Florida. From the crazy looking birds to the prehistoric creatures we have in our lakes, a kids imagination can run wild here in Orlando.
Where do you find ideas and activities to do with the kids?
We have many shared boards on Pinterest although we do not have a TNW account. Both of us share ideas constantly and are invaluable resources to one another.
Your dream creative project or collaboration?
We would really love to build our community to offer support groups and classes. Educating our community and connecting people is what our business is hinged on.
What’s the best thing about what you do?
It’s hard to pick just one thing about us that is the best because there are a few different elements of the business that come together to make us stand out in our minds. Of course the personality matching is huge. We believe so strongly that a positive match based on similar values is essential to giving children an environment to strive.
Top piece of advice for new nannies?
Ask for help! Ask other nannies how they choose jobs, what make them choose that family and if it was a good job for them. Go with your gut and if you feel like the family isn’t right for you, believe yourself! It’s a serious commitment that cannot be taken lightly. This is one of the most important jobs out there and taking your time when searching for a job is essential. Make sure you are able to have good communications from day one.