It’s not always easy finding reliable child sitters these days.
Historically, the next-door neighbour’s resident teenager always seemed available on a moment’s notice. But in 2012, the reality is neighbours often don’t know each other that well, teenagers are busy and parents have a hard time finding somebody to look after their children for an evening, or longer.
On maternity leave in 2002 while living near Toronto, Martha Scully became frustrated with the lack of resources available to her to find child care for her two young daughters – the local pool of potential sitters had virtually disappeared.
So she did something about it. Scully developed a website called CanadianSitter.ca that put families in contact with university and college students looking to make a few extra bucks. That service took off, and Scully quickly added CanadianNanny.ca and CanadianAdultCare.ca to the web.
Those succeeded, too, as people seeking care services and others offering them were matched up successfully over and over.
In 2010, five years after moving from Toronto to Nanaimo, Scully merged all three services under the same website at www.CanadianNanny.ca, while expanding to offer pet services and housekeepers.
The website now has a pool of more than 10,000 nannies over the age of 18 available nationwide looking for work, with thousands more looking to earn some money cleaning houses or pet sitting.
“It works similar to Workopolis or the dating sites where individuals fill out profiles, and then people are able to find each other on the site. For parents, they’re able to find nannies, baby sitters, housekeepers, pet care and adult care givers and for job seekers they are able to find jobs in all of those categories,” said Scully.
The site serves only as a venue for parents to meet people whose services they require.
Each individual seeking work is required to fill out a three-page profile with a resumé and possibly a photo, and the parent then reviews the profile and determines if that is a person whose services they are interested in, following it up with a phone call and an in-person meeting.
“The parent does all of the screening,” said Scully.
The site is so successful Scully won the SavvyMom.ca Entrepreneur Award in 2008, beating out more than 400 other entrepreneurs from across Canada, and this year she is a finalist for Small Business B.C.’s Successful You Awards, a process that sees more than 100 nominations from communities across the province.
CanadianNanny.ca is nominated for the best online marketer award and is up against four Vancouver businesses.
“We were wonderfully surprised because the competition was pretty tough,” said Scully. “To be recognized by B.C. Small Business is especially touching to me – to be recognized in my own province is important.”
Sara Couper, spokeswoman for Small Business B.C., said there is no cash prize, but winners from last year’s event earned the equivalent of $200,000 in media exposure.
“Winning certainly carries some weight,” she said.
CanadianNanny.ca has already earned plenty of media response. Networks such as CBC, CityTV and Women’s Network have all featured the website, as have the Globe and Mail, National Post, and Canadian Living magazine, among other print and online publications.
The winners of each of the six categories of the Successful You Awards, now in its ninth year, will be recognized at a public ceremony on Feb. 28 from 5-8 p.m. at Vancouver’s Pan Pacific Hotel. A keynote address will feature small business owner and former NHL star Trevor Linden.