Meeting demand for mature nannies

ALAN WOOD
Last updated 05:00 15/02/2014
Nanny Company

UNANSWERED MARKET: Jan Gourley and Matt Long say you don't have to be "rich and famous" to afford a nanny in your own home.

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Christchurch couple Jan Gourley and Matt Long own and operate The Nanny Company saying you don't have to be "rich and famous" to afford to be able have a nanny in your own home.

About to celebrate its 10th birthday, the company had its genesis in Gourley being asked to find a nanny for her sister.

The couple have during the last decade commandeered bedrooms within their own home, before buying a property to house the business on Wairakei Rd, Bryndwr.

Gourley has a diploma in teaching in early childhood education as well as a Bachelor of Education from the University of Canterbury.

Before setting up in business she had worked in other early childhood education organisations and was employed by Barnados to help turn around an "insolvent childhood centre".

Long had a decade or so of experience in corporate information technology roles, having worked with Computerland as a technical consultant.

Gourley says she was inspired to start the business having helped her sister find a nanny, and decided there was an unanswered market in Christchurch and beyond.

Her sister and others wanted more mature nannies - and she now has grannies and mothers on her books.

"She [my sister] had fairly spirited children and every nanny [other companies] sent didn't last. In desperation she said to me ‘I'm over this, can you help me find a nanny'."

There were lots of applications but often these were from younger inexperienced people and Gourley decided that a niche for a company would be seeking out older carers.

"They were often very young, young people and that's not to say young people are no good but there was no-one trying to find more mature ladies with more experience that could offer something different.

"In the beginning our real niche market was grannies and mums. And often mums who had done something else like they might have been a nurse. We did have some young ones too."

Gourley says she works to find the "perfect nanny" for the right family. She has even had one male nanny on the books "a manny" but obviously most nannies are female.

The service is licensed with The Ministry of Education to provide early childhood education for zero to six-year-olds. When they first started the company, significant requirements were outlined in a booklet from the ministry but in the last decade the compliance costs have grown further.

The Nanny Company will audit clients' homes for health and safety. Even though these are family homes, checks are made because the parents will be away and the residence becomes a work environment.

"There's certain criteria you have to meet to use our service. Most family homes to be honest are safe, but we make them even safer usually. Sometimes it will be things like they have all the cleaning material stored under the sink."

The vetting of nannies is another important part of the process, including interviews and detailed applications with reference and policy checks.

Long focuses on IT solutions to aid the business.

He has also been in charge of wages and sorting out holidays and tax payments.

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The Nanny Company has more than two hundred families using their service and about the same number of nannies on its books to work in family homes. He has also kept a database on clients countrywide. "Since we've introduced the database well over 1000 families have used the service at some stage," he says.

Long explains for many payments the company acts as a conduit, with the families technically employing the nanny.

"We fall under a special IRD category. We're not a tax agent and we're not an accountant, we're what is known as a PAYE intermediary," he says. The company ends up getting "bulk funded" by the ministry based on the hours a child is in care, like a school or kindergarten is.

Long spent about a year working fulltime in IT before deciding to test the waters working for and being a shareholder of The Nanny Company.

"Matt took a month leave from (his job) to see if it would work, which we often look back and laugh at because if we hadn't killed each other by then we weren't going to given that we working all hours and would sometimes be up until 1am in the morning processing things.

"So he took a month's leave and never went back."

- BusinessDay

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