A British Nanny spoke to the Director of Tinies Childcare, the UK’s largest childcare recruitment agency, to find out more about what is involved in running a national nanny agency.
ABN: Tell us who you are, and a little about yourself.
My name is Amanda Coxen and I will be 40 this year. I live by the sea in Eastbourne with my husband and 2 boys aged 3 and 6. I work 4 days a week officially, 7 days a week unofficially! I have a nanny who works for me 3 days a week and is a total god-send.
ABN: What is your background, and how did you start off in the nanny agency business?
I qualified as a solicitor in 1995 and worked in the City as a civil litigator before embarking on a complete career change to run Tinies Childcare, the UK’s largest childcare recruitment agency.
ABN: How long have you been running Tinies?
Tinies was established in 1975. It became a franchise business in 1980 and in 2000, my co-directors Ben and Oliver Black bought the company, and I joined them as the 3rd director in the summer of 2000. When we bought the company, there were 8 branches; we now have 28.
ABN: What should families look for in an agency?
I would say there are some very important things that you should be getting from a nanny agency: a) reassurance that they have personally interviewed their nannies; b) confirmation that they have carried out the right checks on the nanny; c) the feeling that they understand what you are looking for and the type of nanny you want; d) a good aftercare service so that once the nanny has been placed, you are given guidance on employing and pay-rolling your nanny, as well as the practicalities of having a nanny in your home.
ABN: Describe a typical day as the director of a large nanny agency.
Again, there is no such thing as a typical day in this job; that is why I love it. Normally I will check my emails first thing. We use a database and website team that are based in India, and therefore I normally have some communication with them first thing, discussing any planned projects for the database or the website. If it is a Monday, I am always at our Head Office in London, so I will sit down with my team and go through any issues, projects and talk about our branches and what they need from us for that week. I will then look at my To Do List, and work out what is priority. If I’m not in London, then I’m either working from my home office in Eastbourne or I’m on the road visiting branches. Every day is different and normally very busy! As I have 2 young boys, I do like to be home to put them to bed.
ABN: What is the most common question that nannies or families ask?
Families ask: “What do I do if the nanny gets pregnant?” Nannies ask “How much will I get paid.”
ABN: What is the most common misconception about nanny agencies from your experience?
That we are a regulated industry and that the people who own nanny agencies are licensed or qualified. This is unfortunately not the case. We campaign through REC (Recruitment and Employment Confederation) for compulsory regulation of our industry and compulsory regulation of nannies. We chose to be regulated by REC because we believe in high standards and accountability.
ABN: Have you seen the nanny recruitment industry change at all? If so, what are the trends at the moment?
We have seen a number of changes. The introduction of childcare vouchers was quite a big thing – before you could only use them for nurseries and childminders, but now they can be used to pay for nannies, as long as the nanny is on the Ofsted Childcare Register. In terms of trends, when we first started out, most of the parents were looking for a full time nanny either live in or live out. Now the most common request is either for a part time nanny or for a “before and after school” nanny. We have also seen a dramatic increase in the rise of nanny shares – where 2 families share a nanny and therefore share the cost.
ABN: What is the next step for you personally, and for Tinies, as an agency?
Personally I would like to work fewer hours! However, I do see myself doing this role for a long time as I do love what I do. For Tinies, we always look to the US for inspiration as to where the childcare market is going to be. In the States at the moment Emergency Childcare and subsidised childcare for employers is a big thing – so that is where we are concentrating our efforts, with the help of our sister company My Family Care. And we are also looking at launching Tinies Tutors for families who want extra tuition for their children.