Disrupting the Nanny Agency Business – Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency

INTERVIEW VIDEO (Length – 41:46)


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Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency, shares how her entrepreneurial mindset enabled her to start a Nanny Agency and disrupt the traditional contracting and payment model. Kristy has been able to scale her business with a franchise model and is utilizing a custom software solution to streamline the booking and payment process.

Episode Summary

Kristy Bickmeyer the founder of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency, Kristy Bickmeyer. Before starting her business, Kristy was a property manager but her entrepreneurial spirit and rejection of authority led her to create a nanny agency with a unique business model allows families to open shifts when their regular nanny is unavailable, and the agency contracts with both sides, providing support and facilitating the process. Kristy discusses her experience in hiring nannies, her marketing strategies, and her innovative software product. She also shares her goals for her franchise, focusing on the success of current franchisees, and her evolution as an entrepreneur. Despite receiving more bad business advice than good, Kristy emphasizes the importance of persisting in one’s beliefs and encourages entrepreneurs to keep trying and pivoting as necessary.

  • 00:00:00 In this section of the Treptalks YouTube video, host Sushant welcomes Kristy Bickmeyer, the founder of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency, to the show. Before starting her business, Kristy was a property manager for a student housing complex in Gainesville, Florida. She shared that she has always been entrepreneurial by nature and resisted authority, which led her to reject conventional wisdom and blaze her own trail. This trait, however, presented a challenge for her mother growing up. Kristy’s experience as a nanny and working for a placement agency inspired her to start her own nanny agency. She identified flaws in the traditional model, where families paid a significant placement fee and were dependent on the agency for backup and relief for nannies. After becoming a parent herself and facing challenges with child care, she began to envision a solution that would remove the agency fee and provide more flexibility and support for both families and nannies.
  • 00:05:00 In this section of the YouTube video titled “Kristy Bickmeyer,” the founder discusses her business model for Valet Care, a nanny agency. She explains that families don’t pay upfront but instead pay the agency, which covers expenses and creates a network of nannies. Families can open shifts when their regular nanny is unavailable, and other nannies can apply to fill in. The agency contracts with both sides, providing support and facilitating the process. The value proposition is a personal approach, ensuring families have trusted and reliable nannies. The business had a low investment in the beginning, with no advertising budget or brick-and-mortar location. Now, Valet Care is a franchise model, with entrepreneurs starting their own branches and paying an annual fee. The flagship location was started in Gainesville, Florida, 13 years ago.
  • 00:10:00 In this section of the YouTube video titled “Kristy Bickmeyer,” the entrepreneur discusses her business background and current daily activities. Previously, she owned and tested her nanny placement business model in different cities, including Jacksonville and Tampa, to prove its legitimacy and scalability. Now, every new location operates as a franchise. Her day-to-day tasks involve marketing her franchising business, meeting with marketing and tech teams, and handling ongoing operations at her Gainesville location. She also differentiates her business from competitors, such as placement agencies and self-service platforms like care.com, by offering ongoing revenue and superior customer service. Her target market consists of dual-income families who value the time and convenience her business provides.
  • 00:15:00 In this section of the YouTube video titled “Kristy Bickmeyer,” the entrepreneur discusses her experience in hiring nannies for families and the importance of finding responsible and mature individuals for the job. She explains that while age and education are not the only factors, references and background checks are crucial in the selection process. The interviewer then asks about Kristy’s evolution as an entrepreneur, and she shares how her role has expanded from managing families and nannies to managing franchises, legal work, and even learning tech skills despite her initial discomfort.
  • 00:20:00 In this section of the YouTube video titled “Kristy Bickmeyer,” the business owner discusses her goals for her franchise, focusing on the success of current franchisees through cost savings and support. She emphasizes her responsibility to help them grow, as many are single mothers who took a risk on her business. New franchise locations are also a goal, but she aims to grow at a sustainable pace to ensure proper support for new franchises. The initial training for franchisees includes three-day in-person instruction on business operations and a marketing plan, as well as ongoing marketing support for the first six weeks. There is also potential for selling the proprietary software as a separate business in the future.
  • 00:25:00 In this section of the YouTube video titled “Kristy Bickmeyer,” the entrepreneur discusses the potential applications of her nanny agency business model in various industries, such as pet sitting or plumbing agencies. She acknowledges the possibility of expanding the business but expresses her need for guidance due to her limited knowledge of the tech side. The conversation then shifts to the risks and challenges associated with her people-oriented business, including the vetting process for nannies and the inherent risks that come with having people in customers’ homes. Kristy shares that while she has had situations where a nanny’s actions did not meet a family’s expectations, safety issues have not been a significant concern due to thorough vetting. She also mentions that her mother tried to dissuade her from starting the business due to the risks involved, but Kristy believes that any worthwhile endeavor carries some level of risk and that necessary precautions can be taken to minimize it. The conversation concludes with Kristy reflecting on her entrepreneurial journey and sharing lessons learned from costly mistakes, such as hiring the wrong attorney or marketing firm, and emphasizing the importance of networking and surrounding oneself with more experienced entrepreneurs.
  • 00:30:00 In this section of the YouTube video titled “Kristy Bickmeyer,” the entrepreneur discusses her marketing strategies for her childcare business. She explains that while digital marketing is important, building trust and relationships in the community is crucial. She shares her unique approach, which involves attending local events and interacting with families to establish a personal connection. Kristy also recommends two books for entrepreneurs: “The 5 a.m. Club” for productivity and “Good to Great” for understanding team members’ strengths. Additionally, she shares her morning routine, which includes personal development, a workout, and time for her family.
  • 00:35:00 In this section of the YouTube video titled “Kristy Bickmeyer,” the entrepreneur discusses her innovative software product, which has streamlined her business and made it easier to manage as a mother. She explains how the software has replaced multiple websites for billing, nanny pay, and scheduling, and how it can now be used from her phone. She also shares her productivity tips, including waking up early and working in short, uninterrupted spurts. Additionally, she mentions a new business idea she’s heard about called “Uber for kids,” and expresses admiration for other entrepreneurs and businesspeople in her network, particularly Brooke, who runs Momentum Brands and is a fractional CMO. When asked for the best business advice she’s received or would give to other entrepreneurs, she doesn’t provide a specific answer in this excerpt.
  • 00:40:00 In this section of the YouTube video titled “Kristy Bickmeyer,” the entrepreneur shares her experience of receiving more bad business advice than good, but emphasizes the importance of persisting in one’s business beliefs. She advises against having a backup plan or safety net, and encourages entrepreneurs to keep trying and pivoting as necessary. Kristy concludes by sharing her contact information for those interested in her business and services.

People & Resources Mentioned in the Episode

  • Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency Software

Book: The 5 AM Club by Robin Sharma and Good To Great By James C. Collins

What You’ll Learn

Interview with Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency

[00:00:08] Introduction to Treptalks by Sushant Misra
[00:00:24] Introduction to Kristy Bickmeyer and Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency
[00:01:00] Welcoming Kristy to Treptalks
[00:01:25] Kristy’s background and transition to entrepreneurship
[00:02:42] Entrepreneurial nature and challenges with authority
[00:03:13] Transition from property management to starting a nanny agency
[00:04:20] Motivation behind starting Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency
[00:05:22] Innovations in the nanny agency business model
[00:06:35] Platform dynamics and benefits for families and nannies
[00:07:53] Personal approach vs. self-service platforms
[00:08:18] Initial investments and low overhead of the business
[00:09:44] Evolution into a franchise model
[00:11:11] Kristy’s daily activities as an entrepreneur
[00:12:33] Who is your competition?
[00:13:20] Traditional agency model vs. Twinkle Toes
[00:13:45] Competition beyond agencies
[00:14:26] Target market: dual income families
[00:15:38] Qualities of a great nanny
[00:17:25] Evolution as an entrepreneur
[00:20:03] Building a brand vs. growing revenue
[00:22:27] Growing at a sustainable pace
[00:23:18] Initial Training Overview
[00:24:00] Software Training
[00:24:33] Marketing Support
[00:24:58] Potential Software Sales
[00:25:38] Risks and Challenges
[00:27:51] Lessons from Mistakes
[00:31:12] Marketing Strategies
[00:33:11] Book Recommendations & Morning Routine
[00:35:04] Balancing Entrepreneurship and Family
[00:35:27] Exciting Innovation: Nanny Agency Software
[00:36:29] Naming the Software
[00:36:51] Productivity Tip: Focus and Short Spurts
[00:37:35] Innovative Startup: Uber for Kids
[00:39:16] Inspirational Figure: Brooke of Momentum Brands
[00:40:08] Best Business Advice: Persistence and Belief
[00:41:20] Closing Remarks and Contact Information

Rapid Fire

In this segment, the guest will answer a few questions quickly in one or two sentences.

Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency

  1. Book recommendation that you would make to entrepreneurs or business professionals (Response: The 5 AM Club by Robin Sharma and Good To Great By James C. Collins)
  2. An innovative product or idea in the current e-commerce retail or tech landscape that you feel excited about (Response: Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency Software)
  3. A business or productivity tool or software that you would recommend/Productivity Tip. (Response: the effectiveness of focusing on tasks for short, concentrated periods without distractions. This approach contrasts with multitasking, which can often lead to reduced efficiency and effectiveness in completing tasks)
  4. A startup or business (in ecommerce, retail, or tech) that you think is currently doing great things. (Response: )
  5. A peer entrepreneur or businessperson whom you look up to or someone who inspires you (Response: Brooke Budke founder of Momentum Brands)
  6. One networking tip or building and sustaining valuable professional relationships.
  7. Best business advice you ever received (Response: If you know this is something you believe in and you can make work, don’t give up on it )

Interview Transcript

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Hey there entrepreneurs, my name is Sushant and welcome to Treptalks. This is the show where I interview successful e commerce entrepreneurs, business executives, and thought leaders and ask them questions about their business story and also dive deep into some of the strategies and tactics that they have used to start and grow their businesses.

And today I’m really excited to welcome Kristy Bickmeyer to the show. Kristy is the founder of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency and they have locations all across the U. S. Twinkle Toes offers quality, affordable childcare services. And today I’m going to ask Kristy a few questions about her entrepreneurial journey and some of the strategies and tactics that she has used to start and grow her business.

Now before we dive into this interview, if you enjoy this content, please make sure to hit the like and subscribe button. And for more content like this, please visit our website, Treptalks.com. And with that, Kristy, welcome [00:01:00] again. And thank you so much for joining me today at Treptalks, really, really appreciate it.

Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency: Yeah. Thanks for having me.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So, you know, I was speaking, I was talking to you a little bit before hitting the record button. I almost got the impression that you are entrepreneurial by nature. Can you share a little bit about yourself? What were you doing before starting your business and what kind of really motivated you to start this agency?

Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency: Um, so before I started Twinkle Toes, I was a property manager for a, uh, student property here in Gainesville, Florida. We’re a college town. And so the majority of our properties are student properties. And I was the GM for a big property here. Um, and quickly learned, I am not a good corporate employee. I’m not that person.

Um, which has really been true throughout my whole life. Like you said, I’m by nature and entrepreneur. It’s just, you know, it was kind of a personality defect before. And now since I can [00:02:00] use that defect to make money, it’s a career and it has a cute name like entrepreneur. But yeah, my mom has always told me like, you are so.

anti authority like you were just you really hate authority you resist authority and growing up i’m sure that was a huge challenge for her um but yeah i mean i think that piece kind of you can either use that to become somebody who’s not very desirable member of society or you know use it to blaze your own trail and you know be fearless in the way that you, you know, think and reject, um, conventional wisdom and kind of make your own path, which is really essentially at the core of every entrepreneur.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: I completely agree. I, you know, I struggle with that all the time as an entrepreneurial personality myself. I’m in the corporate world and I, I, I completely, um, uh, empathize with the, the, uh, everything that you [00:03:00] described. So, uh, but, but I think entrepreneurs have to figure out, you know, if they’re in the corporate world or something like that, how to work with it.

Um, You know, until they find a way out, I guess.

Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency: Right.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So why, why a Nanny agency and how did you transition from, you know, property management to A nanny agency kind of thing.

Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency: Yeah. The two are very unrelated. Well, I worked as a nanny all through college, so I knew that world, you know, I, and I worked for an agency and I kind of knew that world and, uh, it was what’s known in the industry as a placement agency, which means families paid the agency a placement fee.

It’s usually a couple of thousand dollars. And for that fee, you get to interview nannies that the agency has screened, interviewed, all of that stuff. Um, so that’s the type of agency I worked for. And just working as a nanny, from that perspective, I saw some flaws with that because I worked for two [00:04:00] surgeons and I had to go to work when I had the flu.

I had to miss family vacations because they depended solely on me. They couldn’t cancel surgery because my car wouldn’t start or, you know, I had a fever or whatever. I just, I had, there was no backup for them if I got sick and there was no relief for me. You know, I was totally at the mercy of their schedules.

And then I became a parent. Once I graduated from college, I’m working as a property manager. I became a parent and then I was faced with, well, what am I going to do for childcare? I didn’t want to put him in daycare and I couldn’t afford at the time to pay a few thousand dollars. Just to get a list of nannies, you know, because then on top of that, you have to pay them, you have to figure out the contract, you have to pay their payroll taxes.

You have to figure out what’s your plan B if the nanny gets sick or something happens. So that started the wheels turning. And I ended up having my mom and my mother in law split the week to care for my son. While I went back to this corporate job that I hated and was [00:05:00] terrible at, and just like everything about it was bad.

And so I had already started thinking like, well, if If I could remove that agency fee, that would make it more affordable for families, but then how would the business make money? You know, so just kind of thinking through all of these problems and solutions, I came up with what’s now my business model, which is families don’t pay anything upfront.

We’re more modeled like a staffing agency or like a cleaning service or any other company, any other business in the world, really, where the customer pays the company and the company pays overhead and their workers. So the customers pay. The agency, we pay our nannies and all the other expenses. And as a result, we have more of a nanny network.

So we, I had some proprietary software created that created a platform for families and nannies alike. So you would have, you know, your full time Monday through Friday nanny. But if she gets sick on Wednesday. I can what we call open the [00:06:00] shift so that it takes her off of the schedule with you and all of my other nannies can see like this family needs a nanny just for today and then they can apply to fill in and cover that need for you for the day.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: That’s very interesting. So, I mean, it almost seems like you create a platform where, um, and is it, is there some sort of a bidding also on that platform? So, you know, if, if a family has created an opening, let’s say, you know, I want a monthly. Nanny services. Do nannies apply directly or is that something that you are managing?

Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency: The families are contracted with the agency and the nannies are also contracted with us. So it’s all done through the agency because if, if the nannies were applying directly to the family, then they would be that family’s employee because the family would be paying them directly. So instead we are contracted with both sides.

And so we help facilitate that and we provide support, you know, all along the way, if it’s not working out two months in with this nanny [00:07:00] and you want a new one. We do it again, you know, we find you nannies to interview all over again, and there’s no additional fee for that

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: so there is kind of a um a personal approach to this as opposed to i’m sure there are nanny platforms out there where you know, uh, a person can Uh post a job kind of a thing and different nannies can apply and then they can interview them themselves So the value care.

Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency: com, you know that which is self self service. The nanny’s on their own the family’s on their own It’s time consuming, you know, you have to sift through a lot of applications You set up interviews and half of them don’t show up. I mean, it’s it can be a full time job

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: For sure. And so the value proposition here is that you are the one, basically you have a roster of nannies that you know and trust and, you know, you know that if you are going to schedule them, they’re going to show up and, and, and so forth.

And, and, and the families have a level of trust that they know that you’ve kind of vetted these [00:08:00] people, they’re safe, they’re reliable. And so, you know, they don’t have to do the work to hire the people. They, they can rely on you basically.

Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency: Right. Exactly.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Okay. And so when you started out, um, I’m assuming there, this isn’t, this is not, this is a very investment low business.

I mean, did you have to put up some investment in early on to start the business or

Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency: not really? I did what I could afford to do at the time. You know, I started, I was still working the corporate job. I started this on the side. I think I paid like 250 for someone to build me a website. And then I, like I designed my own brochures and had them printed, you know, in very small increments, cause that’s all I could afford.

I had no advertising budget. So I had door hangers made and I would go, you know, on the weekends and put door hangers up in all the neighborhoods. So it was a, Very low investment. I mean, it’s still relatively low just because there’s [00:09:00] no building, you know, there’s no brick and mortar. There’s no overhead in terms of employees.

You know, you’re not, you don’t pay the nannies unless they work. So you’re not having to pay to keep people on staff if they’re not bringing in revenue. So it is a very low overhead. Even now, it’s a low overhead investment.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: And so now, is your business model more of a franchise model? So you’re, rather than you going out to a new city and trying to recruit new nannies, you’re, you’re basically trying to find other people that you people, other entrepreneurs who are interested in creating their own, uh, branch, uh, you know, maybe their own city branch of your, uh, company, that’s a franchise.

And then, you know, are they paying you a, like a fee, an annual fee for that?

Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency: Yeah, we’re a franchise now. So the flagship location is the one I started in Gainesville, Florida, 13 years ago. And everyone is a [00:10:00] franchise now. And it didn’t start that way. I started by Um, expanding into Tampa and owned that one for almost 10 years.

I just sold it last year as a franchise to a new owner. Uh, so I owned that one. I also owned the one in Jacksonville for a while. And those were kind of my test markets, you know, because to be a franchise, you need to prove that your model works in different cities and that it can be run by different people.

So it’s not dependent on me and my personality. It’s not dependent on the demographics in Gainesville. And we proved that in Jacksonville and Tampa and then became a legitimate franchise by, you know, taking the legal steps to have a franchise disclosure document drawn up and all that stuff. So that happened in 2017.

And then since then every new location is a franchise.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: And now, what, what does your day look like as an entrepreneur, as a business person? Like, what are you working on day to day? Are you really just, [00:11:00] uh, marketing your franchising business to recruit new, uh, entrepreneurs who are willing to buy into it?

Or like, what, what do you work on a daily basis?

Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency: That’s part of it. Yes. Uh, it’s. No day. I mean, I never have the same day twice, which is what I love. Cause I get bored very easily. So I love the, the different stuff. Uh, just for an example today, I met with some, I’ve had meetings online all morning. The first one was with a marketing company who does look alike ads on Facebook.

And I was kind of vetting them for my franchisees to recommend them to franchisees as part of their marketing plan. And then I met with someone who is. Working as my fractional CMO right now. And she’s helping with marketing for the overall brand for franchise development, but then also for the individual locations.

Um, and then later on, I have a call with my, um, tech guys, because we’re still constantly improving this platform that I created. [00:12:00] And we just rolled out a new payment system for that. That helps eliminate credit card processing fees for my franchisees saves them a ton of money. So we just implemented that last week and we’re still kind of working the bugs out of that.

So it’s, and then I’m, I’m also talking to families constantly in Gainesville, cause I’m still very hands on at the Gainesville location. So it’s everything from marketing to tech, to financial stuff, to, you know, customer service with the families, helping nannies when they have an issue that comes up. So, so I’ve got my hands in a little bit of everything.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Who is your competition? Who are you? Um, I mean, are there other similar agencies that are following similar model or are you competing against like those, those, uh, uh, platforms where, you know, as you described, it’s kind of a self service kind of platforms.

Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency: There are other agencies. Um, using this business model, but still in terms of agencies, I would say the most popular is the placement agency where, you know, [00:13:00] a family pays a large sum of money and then the family employs the nanny.

So that’s probably, it’s the most traditional, it’s one of those things where like, it’s the way it’s always been done. So that’s the way most people still do it. Um, from a business standpoint, that model has never made sense to me because you don’t have any ongoing revenue.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Yeah. The

Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency: family pays you once and that’s it.

It does. There’s no residual income. Um, and then there’s also care. com, you know, which like I said before is a self service thing, but then there’s also, I mean, competition can even be word of mouth. You know, if, if you’re just out there asking your friends. Who did you use? Who’s a good nanny? You know, word of mouth can be competition if someone finds their nanny that way.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Yeah. I mean, traditionally, I mean, uh, that’s how I understand, right? People usually would find like someone, you know, uh, a teenager or someone who’s, uh, you know, uh, who’s looking for some part time, uh, job, you know, it has usually been word [00:14:00] of mouth for, for a nanny, you know, somebody recommends, you know, I know this person it’s reliable, you know, you should have them as a nanny or something.

Um, what, who, who do you think is your target market? Like, do you have, have you kind of narrowed down your demographic? I mean, you, you mentioned surgeons. Uh, I mean, are you really going after kind of high net worth, uh, families kind of a thing?

Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency: We are going after dual income families. You know, both mom and dad have full time jobs because those families, not only can they afford a nanny, they don’t have time to do the search on their own.

When I’m not kidding, when I say it can be a full time job, they don’t have time to do that. They need to outsource it. And they’re willing to pay a premium to do that because they recognize the value in what we do. Because just like, you know, they could schedule 10 nanny interviews on care. com, five of them don’t show up.

Three of them are unqualified. That leaves two to choose from that, that happens to us all the [00:15:00] time. And that’s why this is a valuable business because like my recruiter who works with me in Gainesville can schedule 20 interviews in a week. And only 10 of them show up and then out of them, you know, we find out different things through screenings and background checks that disqualifies half of those.

So, I mean, that’s, and that’s to get one or two qualified nannies, you know, and we’re recruiting for seven different families right now. So it’s really time consuming to put that much effort into it. Um, so we want someone who has young children under the age of three, because that’s who needs a full time nanny, um, and dual income, you know, professional parents.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Who makes a great nanny?

Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency: That’s a good question. I have found after 13 years of doing this, that age has less to do with it than maturity. And I, I try to explain that to, especially new moms come in and they’re like, I want somebody who’s at least 30 years old and has a degree [00:16:00] and speaks two languages and you know, all this stuff.

And it’s like, well, I mean, I have 50 year olds. Who are more flaky than my 20 year olds, you know, it really is about the person and about, um, and that’s why we rely so heavily on references. Like you have to have really good written references. We call and talk to them, make sure that you are, you know, really a solid person who’s going to actually show up.

And when you do show up that you’re not on your phone the whole time playing games or texting people or whatever. Um, so I, I don’t know. I mean, I guess. It can be someone older. It can be someone younger. It’s it’s someone who’s responsible. It’s someone who does what they say they’re going to do. It’s someone who shows up when they’re supposed to.

Um, all of our people are CPR certified. They’ve all passed a criminal background check, a civil check and a driving record check, sex offender registry. We, you know, check all that stuff. Um, And we, yeah, I mean, I don’t know that there’s like a [00:17:00] cookie cutter answer for that. Like this is the ideal person. It can be any, it can be a lot of different demographics, but we’re looking for the overall quality and maturity of the person.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: And I guess, you know, once you work with someone for a little bit, then, you know, you probably get a sense of the person. I think it’s, you know, being a nanny is a very personal. Kind of a thing.

Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency: Uh, yes, definitely.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: How have you had to evolve as an entrepreneur since you’ve kind of started on your entrepreneurial journey?

I mean, you mentioned that now you’re working with marketing agencies, you’re working with, uh, you know, technical people trying to develop your, your platform. Of course, you know, these are, you probably didn’t have a lot of technical background. Um, can you share a little bit about your own growth evolution as an entrepreneur and, uh, How are you kind of managing like varying different heads hats now, uh, to manage and grow your business?

Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency: Yeah. [00:18:00] So when I first started, it was strictly. You know, reaching out to nannies for interviews and it was answering the phone and talking to families. You know, it was very family, which is the customer. And then the nanny, which is the employee, like those two things, that was basically it. And now it’s grown into more of I’m managing the franchisees and providing support to them.

Um, and it’s a lot of legal work. It’s a lot of reading legal documents, understanding, interpreting, enforcing because the franchise. The franchise agreement, you know, it is the backbone of, of the franchise. You know, I can only hold my franchisees accountable to what they signed in the franchise agreement.

So it’s important that both sides understand that. Um, and then, yeah, I’ve had to recently pick up this. Education, which I’m not a tech person, you know, I’m a people person. That is not my thing. So I’ve had to get very uncomfortable and learn things that I [00:19:00] don’t necessarily care about. Don’t want to learn.

Don’t it’s one of those things. Like it just kind of makes my eyes glaze over and, but it’s important, you know, I mean, I have to, I have to know this stuff because it’s going to better my business. So yeah, I’ve just gotten comfortable with being uncomfortable. And okay with asking questions. And, you know, when I’m in a meeting saying like, can you tell me what that word means?

I don’t, I don’t know what you’re talking about right now. I don’t speak this tech language. And I think in the beginning I was. It’s probably more, um, insecure about that because it was like, I felt like I had to know everything to be taken seriously. And it’s, I can’t, I can’t know everything. I’m good at what I’m good at.

And this new stuff that’s coming my way because of the growth, I’m learning as I go. And it’s okay to like, raise your hand and say, I have no idea what that word means. Can you talk to me like I’m a third grader and explain it like you would to a child? And that’s okay. Okay. Okay. That doesn’t mean I’m dumb or unsuccessful or [00:20:00] anything else.

It just means like this is a new thing I’m learning.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Yeah. I mean, that’s true. I mean, nobody, nobody knows everything. So it’s like, you have to ask questions and, and be, be comfortable with that, I guess. Um, do you, do you Consider now, um, what is your goals for the business? Like, are you trying to now kind of build a brand around this service, which becomes kind of a household brand?

Like, is that your big, big, big focus? Or is your focus still to, you know, just, you know, continue to grow, grow, add new franchises and really just continue building on the revenue?

Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency: Well, I mean, I think if you do one, the other comes naturally. I, my, my main goal is to make sure that my current franchisees are successful.

And that’s the idea behind this new platform with Um, alleviating some of their expenses with the processing fees. That’s what I’m doing with these two marketing companies I’m working with. So my main [00:21:00] goal is to make sure the people I already have in my franchise system are as successful as possible.

Um, because ultimately, I mean, that too is going to grow my business, but I care about those franchisees. I have single moms, you know, who left jobs and a sure salary to take a risk on me and my business to come do this. So I feel like I owe them something to make sure that I’m giving them everything that I can so that they can be successful.

Ultimately, it falls on them. Obviously, if they’re going to implement, you know, the things they’re learning and follow the procedures that they’ve been taught, that falls on them. But I just want to make sure that I’m doing my part to make them successful. Beyond that, um, new franchise locations is the next goal.

So I have a few, I have a few in mind, a few cities I want to be in like my top five, you know, in the next year, I think there’s a huge, uh, danger in growing too quickly in this business. Because if you bring on, you know, [00:22:00] you sell a bunch of new franchises, you have all these new franchise agreements with people, but you don’t have the staff to support them.

Yep. And I’m only one person. And like, we just. said, I don’t know everything. You know, I need to outsource a lot of stuff. And if I don’t have the staff to do that, then they’re going to fail pretty quickly. And that’s, that’s not, that’s not what I want.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Yeah. So I guess

Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency: my goal is to grow at a reasonable and sustainable pace.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: That makes a lot of sense. And, and as you were describing it, I mean, I kind of realized that it is like, Anyone who, or the franchise owner, um, it’s a big responsibility because, you know, if they haven’t done, if they’re not entrepreneurial or if they haven’t been in business before, it’s a big learning curve because, you know, they have to, I mean, it’s, it’s a lot of marketing, you know, they have to go out, get new clients.

And at the same time, they have to recruit new, uh, nannies and, you know, make sure, uh, uh, they’re reliable and [00:23:00] trustworthy and so forth. And, um, I mean, Do you support them on the marketing side? Like what, what, how do you support them at the beginning to really get them from zero to, you know, have a few nannies and a few clients that they can start having some revenue generation,

Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency: right?

Well, our initial training is a three day in person training where they learn basically the standard operating procedures. how to do what we do, right? Like how to get the families and what to do when the families call, basically, and how to handle the nannies and just the A to Z of how to run the business.

They get in person training on the software that I’ve had built that, you know, is proprietary. It’s, it’s just ours. They don’t bring any knowledge of it to the table. So they’ve got to learn all of that. It includes scheduling, Communications, billing, paying the nannies, like it’s all under one roof. So they have to learn that, which is a, that’s a big piece.[00:24:00]

Um, at that training, they will also get a marketing plan that’s specific to their location. And then for the first six weeks, ongoing marketing support in the form of a phone call from the marketing person every week to make sure like, and the marketing plan is broken out by, you know, week one, week two, week three.

So the week one call we’re checking up and making sure they did the week one tasks and then we can talk about week two And then we’re we’re basically just making sure that they’re staying on track and doing the things that are laid out in the plan

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Very interesting. Um To me it almost seems like there’s there’s an opportunity.

I mean you’re developing this Um this platform the software for nannies and it’s creating basically this agency Are you do you ever think that you know, you can transition to? You selling that software in the future. I mean, that, that could be a. Business in its own.

Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency: Yes. And I’ve been approached about that [00:25:00] a few different times and it’s definitely a possibility and I’ve kind of built it with that in mind so that it’s not too nanny and family specific.

It could work for pet sitting. It could work for, I don’t know, a plumbing agency or anything where it’s, um, you’ve got customers and you’ve got workers. That clock time and need to get paid basically. So yeah, it’s definitely in a position where it could translate to different, different avenues and different businesses.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Yeah, I mean, that, that could be a much bigger business, I assume.

Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency: Yes, I think so too, but yeah, I mean, as I said, I’m still learning the tech side of it, and I don’t know nearly enough to like take it to that level. So I would at minimum need some sort of a mentor or partner or something to help me through that because that’s, there’s just a lot there that I don’t know.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Okay. I can, I [00:26:00] can actually recommend something I’ll, I’ll share with you maybe after the call. Um, what about risks and, uh, challenges? Uh, I mean, this is of course, at the end of the day, it’s a people business, you know, you have, uh, nannies going into people’s home, you know, being with, with their kids and so forth.

Have you, um, I mean, have you, do you ever deal with situations where something goes wrong and it’s like, uh, kind of a big. Uh, big risk kind of a situation and, or, or that’s not really an issue because you do a lot of the vetting upfront. And so things usually are okay.

Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency: I mean, things usually are okay. We’ve had situations where, um, maybe a nanny handled something in a way that the mom didn’t like, or that, you know, I wish she had done something differently, but.

In terms of safety, that hasn’t really come up, um, because it’s, you know, we’re, they’re [00:27:00] really highly vetted, but still at the end of the day, you know, if someone doesn’t have a record, they pass all the screenings, they have good references that doesn’t mean it’s foolproof, you know, I mean, anybody can mess up on any given day.

And. It’s, I mean, it’s, there’s definitely still a risk, you know, and that’s, my mom tried to talk me out of opening this business all those years ago because of that, she was like, these are people’s kids, they’re in their homes, there’s too much risk, too much liability. And it’s like, yeah, I mean, obviously there’s, it is a risk, but if there, I mean, I feel like anything worth doing is a risk and we can just take every.

necessary precaution and then some to try and, you know, alleviate some of that risk and be as safe as we possibly can. So that’s, you know, that’s what we do.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: In every entrepreneur’s journey, there’s always mistakes made, lessons learned, failures. Since you’ve started on your [00:28:00] entrepreneurial journey, um, Is there like a big mistake or a, a couple of mistakes that come to your mind where, you know, it was a big learning experience for, for you and, uh, what can other entrepreneurs learn from your mistakes?

Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency: Well, I mean, I think that’s part of the value of buying into a franchise system. I made all those expensive mistakes on the front end. That somebody who wants to start their own nanny agency, they’re going to make the same mistakes and waste a bunch of money with different contracts, with different scheduling platforms, you know, all these things that I spent a lot of money on getting just right.

Um, and that’s a benefit of buying into a franchise, right? Like it’s a foolproof ready made system. We know what works in here. It is in a box turnkey ready to go. So, I mean, I spent, I spent time, energy and money on. I mean, I went through a few different attorneys in the beginning, trying to find someone who [00:29:00] understood my business model and wrote, wrote an appropriate contract for both the nannies and the families.

Um, I spent a lot of money on marketing people and. They’re not all created equal. I feel like I’m very hesitant to work with marketing people now because it’s something that’s not always measurable and it’s a very expensive field. You know, it’s something they, they charge a lot of money. And then if there’s no results, then it’s kind of like, well, You know, maybe we’ll see results in three months, maybe six months.

Maybe how do you measure that? You know? So I learned a lot of lessons there in like talking to people who have used that person before, whether it’s an attorney or marketer or whatever, and making sure that they got the results that I’m looking for. Um, and all of that asking the right people that all comes from networking.

And so there’s, I cannot overstate the value of networking and knowing other entrepreneurs and surrounding yourself with [00:30:00] people who are smarter than you and who are farther ahead in their, um, entrepreneurial journey than you are, because that’s, that’s the person’s mind that you want to pick.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: For sure.

Um, talking very briefly about marketing. Um, um, Do you think like in your experience now so far what kind of marketing works best? I mean, of course, you know digital marketing online marketing. That’s that’s one Avenue but to me it almost feels like that, you know with this kind of a business if you know an Agency located in a city.

It’s more of a You know, can you get that door tag, you know, advertise, you know, door to door kind of a thing, or do you figure out, you know, a way to access a database where you know the families that have, you know, children below three years of age or something? Because I mean, You could be going door to door and you [00:31:00] know, if people don’t have that, uh, that age group of children, then it’s, it’s a waste of time.

So how, how do you approach, uh, you know, marketing or targeting your demographic?

Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency: Well, things have come a long way since those days, you know, in terms of, uh, being able to target very specifically at that time, I just happened to know this is the neighborhood where a lot of kids live. And so I would hit those neighborhoods, but we do, our strategy is, it’s kind of, It’s very broad because you can do a lot in the digital space.

You can do a lot with Google ads and Instagram, Facebook. And you can also do a lot with direct mailers. You can do print ads. I mean, you can put your name out there, but in this business, people need to know you and trust you. And so if they never see your face. It’s, it might as well be care. com, you know, because my families, when they call me, they know my name, they know what I look like, they know who [00:32:00] they’re talking to, and it’s because I’m in the community.

Um, I go to events whenever there’s, you know, some sort of kid festival or fall festival, just for kids, like we have a booth there and we’re interacting with the families and the kids and they see us and they, they get to know us. So. I think we’re a little bit unique in that way. You know, it’s not like an auto shop where you bring your car in and you don’t care who’s doing the oil change.

You know, people care who’s not only providing for their kids, but like, who’s the person behind that person. They want to know me that I’m meeting with the nannies. I know them, I’m recommending them. So, I mean, part of it is reaching those families, but a lot of it is putting myself out there as the face of the business so that they can get to know me and get to build a little bit of trust in me.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: That makes a lot of sense. Uh, now we’re going to move on to our rapid fire segment. In this segment, I’m going to ask you a few quick questions and you have to answer them maybe in a word or two or a sentence. So the first one is one book [00:33:00] recommendation for entrepreneurs and

Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency: Uh, I have two. Can I have two?

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Yeah. Okay. So

Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency: the 5am club.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Okay.

Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency: Um, that one just, it changed my life because it helped me format my day in the most productive way. And then the other one was good to great. I loved good to great because it, um, taught me the hedgehog concept. Okay. And it, it taught me, um, That just because someone is in my organization and they might not be doing well where they are, put them in a different seat on the bus and they could excel.

So it’s all, you know, it’s about getting to know your people and where their strengths are.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Yeah, that’s that’s great. Um, you know, talking about the 5 a. m. club, do you have a morning routine? And if yes, what is it like?

Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency: I do. Uh, I wake up. I refuse to wake up earlier than 5. That’s my cutoff. I don’t ever want to see 4 a.

[00:34:00] m. on my clock. So it’s 5 a. m. at the earliest. Um, and that’s that’s the best time for me. And it includes. The first little bit after I fed the dogs, the first little bit is like just personal quiet at time with either some sort of spiritual practice or if I’m reading a business book, you know, I read 10 pages of that just something on like personal growth and then it includes a workout, um, for an hour.

And then I can get my day started after that, but I don’t look at work emails. I don’t look at my phone, like it’s nothing to do with work or social media. It’s just personal development and workout. And then, you know, and a lot of that is because, but when, once my kids get up or once I wake them up at six 45, like there goes my day.

The rest of my day belongs to them belongs to my husband. You know, I’m answering the phone. I’m putting out fires. I’m picking them up. I’m cooking dinner. I’m like, it’s that is the only time I have where I can do what I want to do. And what I need to do for [00:35:00] myself is if I make my day longer by waking up earlier.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Yeah, that’s, that’s, uh, I mean, you know, having, having, it’s, it’s not easy, you know, um, as a. As a female entrepreneur, when you have a family and you know, so many things to take care of as well. Um, an innovative product or idea that you feel excited about?

Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency: My, my own product, which is the, the software. Okay. I say I’ve created, it’s my brainchild.

I didn’t actually do the work to create it, but it’s, it’s still mine. And it’s, The way it has streamlined my business and made it so much easier is like, man, these, the franchisees coming on now have no idea how hard it used to be and how much longer everything used to take because we had one website for billing, a different website to pay the nannies.

It’s a third website for [00:36:00] scheduling. And then I had to walk around with my huge laptop that had all my family files on it. So that if a nanny was coming to their home, I’d have to like find a place to log on, send an email, send the attachment with the, the nanny’s profile. And now it’s just, it’s all automated.

I can do it all from my phone. I can do it anywhere, which is the best part, especially having kids. So it’s, that’s the most exciting thing to me.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Have you named the software yet?

Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency: I mean, no, not for outside use. We have, you know, we just, it’s part of our website. It’s like the back end of our website. So

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: I need a clever

Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency: name.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Um, a business or productivity tool or software that you would recommend or a productivity tip.

Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency: It’s a productivity tip. I so I wake up early, like I said, and get, you know, the most important [00:37:00] things done first. I’m also a big believer in working in short spurts uninterrupted. I, I used to try to multitask and I have since learned that that, and I learned that from reading the four hour work week.

That was another great book. Pick one thing, do it until it’s done, and then move on to the next thing. And that has made me so much more efficient.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Awesome. Another startup or business that you think is currently doing great things?

Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency: I just heard about this one, um, on one of the marketing calls I had earlier, and it’s, Brilliant. And I wish I was doing it here, but it’s basically Uber for kids and it’s a mom in Texas, and I don’t remember the name of it. So if she’s listening, I’m sorry. Um, but it’s basically private transportation for kids.

And that’s [00:38:00] something I looked into doing as an add on here, because we get so many calls about that families that don’t really need a nanny. They just need rides for their kids. And, um, I stopped working on it when I found out how much the insurance costs for it, because it was like, I mean, it was cost prohibitive.

It was, it was like, I would have to charge families more than they would ever be willing to pay just to cover the insurance cost. So if she has figured out a way to make that work, I think that’s awesome.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: That’s really interesting. I think Uber has um, recently launched something similar. Either it’s Uber or somewhere because I, I, I recently saw something, uh, transportation for kids somewhere.

Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency: Yeah. I, do you, I, I mean, I’ve heard of like Uber teens. I don’t know, but this is like kids, kids, like they could even still be in car seats. I’m not putting my kid in an Uber.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Okay.

Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency: Without me. Absolutely not. But this is like. You know, she, she hires the people, she [00:39:00] vets the people, it’s It’s almost like a nanny who just drives the bus.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Wow. Very interesting. Uh, another entrepreneur or business person whom you look up to or someone who inspires you?

Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency: I would say, I mean, there’s a lot of people in my network that I look up to that inspire me, even my franchisees. Um, I’m working with, uh, uh, Brooke right now who owns Momentum Brands. She’s the fractional CMO I’m working with. She’s amazing. Um, she’s just got it kind of. It’s run very efficiently. And that’s something, cause she’s also a mom of a toddler and, you know, has all the same commitments I have.

And it’s been nice to work with another mom who, you know, gets it done and, and has a plan and is on schedule. And, you know, our, our calls are always very productive.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Awesome. Final question. [00:40:00] Um, what, what is the best business advice that you have ever received or you would give to other entrepreneurs?

Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency: I mean, I would, I would, first of all, I’ve gotten a lot more bad business advice than good business advice.

So let me just say that. Um, but I would just say, like, if you know this is something you believe in and you can make work, don’t give up on it. Do not, it might be slow starting. You might have to change your business plan or your pricing. You might have to figure it out as you go, but you can’t stop the first time you hit a speed bump.

You know, that’s just. That’s going to happen. Um, I would just say if it’s something you believe in something you think the world needs Don’t stop trying to make it work.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Yeah, and then don’t have

Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency: a plan B Do not have a plan B Don’t have some don’t have a safety net don’t have something you can fall back on like do it do what you want to do [00:41:00]

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: No, that’s very interesting.

I mean, that’s a great advice because you know, it’s I think most businesses have to pivot, you know, you start something and then you learn and then you kind of change your idea or build on top of it. And then, so I think that’s kind of the natural process of, uh, uh, business development. So definitely a great advice.

Well, Kristy, those were all the questions that I had. Thank you so much for sharing your story, for sharing your insights. If anybody wants to, um, you know, get in touch about your, uh, business and services, what is the best way they can do that?

Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency: My email is Kristy K R I S T Y at twinkletoesnanny. com. And my website is twinkletoesnanny.com

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Awesome. Well, Kristy, thank you so much again for sharing your story, for sharing your business insights, and thank you again for your time. And I wish you all the very best.

Kristy Bickmeyer of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency: Awesome. Thank you so much.


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