In just a little over two years, East Wind Nannies has expanded into three cities.
Amy Haldeman founded the nanny service in Pittsburgh in fall 2010 after working in child care for more than a decade. Haldeman’s husband had been transferred to Pittsburgh because of his job, and she decided starting an agency would allow her to work while spending time with their children.
East Wind Nannies launched in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Columbus in the spring and summer of 2012. Operations in each market are helmed by a director who lives there.
“I knew I had a unique service to offer families and nannies,” says Haldeman. “I knew my company could only grow so big in Pittsburgh and wanted to offer East Wind Nannies’ quality service to families living outside the Pittsburgh area.”
East Wind Nannies prides itself on nurturing relationships from the start.
“We believe a key component of the nanny search process is the chemistry between a nanny and family,” she says. “Meeting in person with both the family and nanny helps us build a solid foundation for a quality relationship. Second, every East Wind Nannies director has worked as a nanny and many are moms themselves, so they understand the nanny search process from both perspectives.”
To learn more about this growing startup (a New York City launch is slated for next year), read our interview with Haldeman and Jessica Polsdorfer, East Wind Nannies’ Columbus director.
The Metropreneur: Tell me a bit about the interviews you conduct with families looking for nannies.
Jessica Polsdorfer: I speak with all families on the phone before meeting with them at the location of their choice− typically their home or a local coffee shop− to learn exactly what qualities they are looking for in a nanny and discuss candidates for the position.
The in-person meeting helps provide a window into the lives of the families and gives me a chance to get to know the family dynamics a little better. The better I feel I know the family, the more confident I am that I can find them a nanny that will fit seamlessly with what they are looking for.
[M]: Why did you decide to expand into Columbus?
Amy Haldeman: A trusted friend of mine contacted me a few times to tell me she knew of the perfect director for Columbus if I was interested in expanding. After meeting Jessica, I knew that not only would I be missing out on a gem of a director, but also Columbus would be too if I chose not to expand. Jessica’s childcare expertise, love for people around her, and excellent communication and organization skills puts families at ease from the start. Jessica is dedicated to maintaining supportive relationships with nannies and families after the time of the initial placement.
JP: Having worked both as a nanny and a teacher, I know how important great childcare is, and also how difficult it is to find. I wanted to provide families of Columbus with a trusted resource that would step in and make the nanny search process easier by providing exceptional caregivers that fit the needs of each family.
[M]: How do you go about finding employees? I would think it’s a bit tricky since you’re hiring people who don’t live in the same city you do.
AH: The only way I would ever find a new employee is through personal relationships. Both my Chicago and Philadelphia directors are longtime friends of mine. My NYC director is actually a nanny I placed here in Pittsburgh. I know Jessica through a trusted mutual friend who told me repeatedly that she would be perfect for the position. Most importantly, I look for directors with integrity. I need to be able to trust them completely.
Second, I look for directors who are driven. Starting a company is not easy. It takes a lot of work with few results in the beginning. I need to know my directors will work hard to help families and nannies.
Third, I look for directors who understand and care deeply for people.
JP: I take recruiting my nannies very seriously, as I only accept Columbus’s best and most trustworthy nannies. The majority of my nannies hear about East Wind Nannies through word of mouth, which I love! Before acceptance into the agency, I require each nanny candidate to complete the steps of our application process.
First, I require each nanny to fill out an online application and send me her resume. If the nanny meets the standards that our families are looking for, I will then meet with her for an extensive in-person interview. I contact the nanny’s references, check job history, and run an extensive background check. We don’t accept every nanny into our agency, which sets us apart form other agencies.
Working with an agency is equally beneficial for nannies. Many nannies choose to work with an agency for the safety factor, and we continue to be a resource for both nannies and families after the placement has been made.
[M]: A portion of your profits in Columbus are donated to Samaritan’s Purse. Why have you incorporated philanthropy into your business model?
AH: If you had the opportunity to sit down with each of our directors, I do not think it would take you long to see how each one wants to help other people. Not only families and nannies, but the world around them. Each director has chosen a nonprofit they are passionate about to help the world around them.
JP: Samaritan’s Purse is an organization that I am very proud to support because of the importance that they place on families, and the impact that they have on lives around the world. Samaritan’s Purse is a disaster relief organization dedicated to helping families rebuild their lives after tragedy −a time when they need it the most− by providing food, temporary shelter, vocational assistance, and education. Every child deserves to feel that he is not forgotten.
To learn more about East Wind Nannies, visit EastWindNannies.com.