Today on the blog we have a special treat. We’re sitting down with Jennifer Bouchard, owner and founder of Nanny Poppins, to dive deep into Nanny Poppins’ history and operations. We’ll learn how Nanny Poppins grew from a local nanny placement agency to a nationwide, full household staffing and business staffing agency. Read on to get to know Jennifer and what sets Nanny Poppins apart.
So, Jennifer. How long have you been in business?
It’s actually 28 years today that Nanny Poppins has been in business!
Congratulations! What inspired you to open Nanny Poppins all those years ago?
I was 23, and my best friend from elementary school moved back from Los Angeles. I was in school for journalism at Northeastern University. She and her husband had had a baby, and she was renting a home in Marblehead, MA. She just randomly came out and said to me, “Let’s start a business!”
We did a 3-minute back and forth, and I said, “How about a nanny agency?” She said “That’s great!” We used to babysit together back in high school, so that’s how we came up with that idea. Later we were sitting down thinking about a name, and she was like, “Hmm… Nannies, Mary Poppins… what about Nanny Poppins?”
That was that! We got incorporated on October 27, 1995. We got licensed and bonded right away with the Department of Labor. We started our marketing, and grew from there.
Now, we’re nationwide. We do full household, domestic and lifestyle staffing. We also staff home offices and business as well.
How do you find your candidates?
We are very service oriented. We not only find the top talent, we build and maintain positive and trusting professional relationships with the candidates and clients we serve.
Because we’ve been around for so long, we pick from our talent pool – probably the largest in the country. We have about 100,000 already in our database. Over the years, we’ve built long term relationships with our candidates. The candidates that we work with come back. They grow and evolve their career through my agency. We have built substantial relationships. Candidates and clients refer candidates and clients to us.
We’re constantly getting new candidates as well. Our analytics show that most of our candidates are searching our agency directly. And we’ve been fortunate and successful enough to be able to invest in the best systems and software. So with our jobs, everyone in our database gets alerted when a new job is posted. And then additionally, the jobs go to 17 major job boards, so we’re always getting access to new candidates.
Also lmk how you’d like me to make it clear your friend is no longer a part of the company. Feel free to call if it’s easier
How do you screen and vet candidates?
The candidates have to apply with an up-to-date resume and copy of their legal government-issued ID – driver’s license or passport, depending on what the clients need. Typically they do have to drive, unless it’s an area like Manhattan.
And then, they do a pre-screen on the telephone, then a face-to-face interview, getting to know them professionally, academically, and personally. Then once their interview has been done, their references are called and spoken with at length, and those references are documented.
Then we present the candidate to the client. We have candidates that are fully vetted and up-to-date, and candidates that are new.
Does the agency alone check references, or can clients also speak with references?
The agency checks the references first, before presenting the candidate to the client. Then if the family likes the candidate, it’s up to them if they’d also like to speak with their references personally and ask any additional questions. They’re provided with contact information for all references.
What type of background checks do you run?
The only thing we outsource is background checks. We use a licensed, pre-employment background checking company. Over the years I’ve worked with everything from private investigators to pre-employment screening companies.
These companies are licensed nationwide to get the information right from the courts. We check candidates for misdemeanors, felonies, and violent and federal crimes. We also check the sex offender database and their driving record. We check under every name that they’ve had and every associated address, every area they’ve lived. Then those results are cross-checked with what’s called the National Criminal Database, and global Homeland Security.
Does the agency help clients understand local pay rate averages and industry standards like PTO and guaranteed hours?
Absolutely. We offer a full cycle service for both clients and candidates. So, we make full recommendations to make a good match. We also give advice on setting up different options for attracting candidates – for example if someone is open to hiring a live-in or live-out employee, we’ll list it both ways to cast the widest net and get access to the best candidates.
Is it more cost effective to hire live-in household employees? Why or why not?
It’s private care, so you’ll have people making all different amounts of money per hour. Some of the live-in nannies may make a few dollars less per hour, and some are making a lot more. It really does depend on the family and their lifestyle.
Typically the live-in employee is there to give the family a little bit more flexibility, so some of them do make more than a live-out. People do have a misconception that it’s an exchange – but we aren’t placing people live-in because they’re looking for a place to live. We place jobs because this is their career.
Who employs the candidate – the agency or the client?
The agency does not employ the candidate. I don’t like that business model at all, because I don’t want to manage someone else’s home staff. So, the family employs the candidate, and we’re the placement agency. We do follow up to make sure everyone is happy, and if they’re not we do all kinds of things to remedy that. We can work something out if we need to.
Do you help clients understand how they can legally pay their new hires?
Absolutely. We work directly with a payroll company. Clients can choose to do it how they want to, but we do educate on those matters.
What support is offered to clients after a hire is made?
We’re following up with the candidate, seeing how they’re doing immediately after they start, then regularly after that. We’re making sure they have access to their team at Nanny Poppins – the person who placed them or anyone who worked with them directly. It’s important to us that they can get a hold of us when needed.
We’re there for the client as well. Checking in, making sure everyone is comfortable talking to us – that we’re not going to go over their heads and make a mess of things when they need advice. Making sure they know we’re there, and if there’s something that needs to be fixed, historically – we can fix it.
But it’s just as much the client’s responsibility to let us know how things are going, and when they need help, and trusting us, as much as it is on us to be calling them and checking in on them. We want to have mutual trust. When everyone is honest and on the same level, then we can get things done.
What sets Nanny Poppins apart from competitors?
For me, it’s that I started this company from a very young age. I wasn’t even finished with college at the time. Being able to have a natural inclination to succeed – right away, within the first two years – if even that, we were one of the top agencies in the state, competing with people who’d been in business that started in the 1980s who were 20 or 30 years older than we were. I don’t think a lot of people can say they have 28 years, hands-on experience running this business.
We did start locally, in the Boston area, but now we’re national and we have resources all over the country. There’s really no job that we can’t place. As long as the client is paying market rate or higher for their area, we have the resources to fill the jobs – and we get it done. We’re not an agency that sits and waits for people to come to us. We don’t wait for things to happen. Someone is always available. It’s not like we close at 5pm. Someone is interviewing at 8 or 9 pm. If a client or a candidate needs a phone call at 9pm, or on a Saturday, or on the Fourth of July – someone is around to make that call. Nobody’s waiting. And we don’t let people feel uncomfortable, we address things immediately.
So overall what sets us apart – my own hands-on experience, the team’s experience, all of our resources, all of our passion and ethics. Everything is done completely above board, clients have access to everything we know, they can verify anything that they need to. And I train my team to know how to get to know candidates to avoid putting the wrong type of person into a situation by taking a look at their life, the big picture, what’s really going to work long term. That’s how we get things done – that’s our vision.
You started as a local nanny placement agency 28 years ago. What’s changed today?
We don’t just place nannies anymore. We offer full household staffing, domestic staffing, lifestyle staffing, home office staffing, corporate business staffing. For domestic staffing, we can place any job that works in the home: housekeepers, household managers, estate managers, personal assistants, personal care assistants, senior care providers, private chefs, personal chefs, butlers, special needs caregivers, chauffeurs or personal valets, groundskeepers, yacht staff, security staff, maintenance staff… you name it.
For business staffing, we can place a wide range of jobs as well: executive assistants, personal assistants, administrative assistants, bookkeepers, accountants, lawyers, human resources staff, financial auditors, school office staff, marketing directors, loan officers, office managers, officer coordinators, development officers, marketing specialists, bank tellers, travel agents, pilots, engineers – there’s really no end to the jobs that we can place!