What to Expect: Electronic booking, website or app, pay with cash or instant credit/debit payment, simple design, ability to contact multiple sitters at one time, monthly or yearly subscription, 8.5% transaction fee for credit/debit payments, no more midnight ATM runs
Thanks to two entrepreneurial minded Charlotte couples, there’s now a way to streamline booking and paying your sitters. Abby Miressi, Bruce Clark, Valerie Sappenfield, and Scott Sappenfield developed this technology based on their own experiences and desire for an easier way to book and pay for childcare. PayMySitter launched in May and we chatted with Abby Miressi to learn more about how this new platform works.
MomsCharlotte’s Take on How It Works:
After signing up and creating a profile, users add sitters to their “circle” based on their own contacts. PayMySitter is a method to book the sitters already added by users to their own circles, PayMySitter does not source the sitters for you.
You can reach out to all the sitters in your circle at the same time, eliminating the need to reach out to one sitter at a time until you receive a positive response.
Once one of the sitters in your circle accepts the job, you will be notified and your sitter will be booked. The first to respond wins the job.
Sitters set their own hourly rate.
You can instantly pay your sitter with the debit/credit card in your profile, payments go directly to the sitter within 48 hours. There is an 8.5% transaction fee per payment. Users are also welcome to pay sitters with cash to avoid the transaction fee.
The monthly fee to join this service is $2.99 or $19.99 for the year. Sitters do not pay to join, only the parent/user booking the sitters. Cancel subscription at any time.
Q & A with Abby Miressi
How did the idea for PayMySitter originate?
The idea for PayMySitter was born out of a series of conversations between the two couples. Bruce and Scott had met while working for a technology company and as their friendship grew, the four of us became great friends. Between conversations about daily life and where to go on our next double date, we would talk about our own entrepreneurial ideas.
Valerie and Scott dealt with the pain points of booking and paying their sitters while Abby had her own frustrations as a sitter. Being that both Scott and Valerie are engineers, they had dabbled with a few solutions revolving around booking sitters online, but as life picked up for them and their family of 4, they weren’t able to grow that idea the way they had wanted.
Fast forward 4 years, we decided that we knew a great deal about the industry and what parents (and sitters) were looking for and wanted to put that knowledge to work. With the unique skill sets we bring to the table, we created a platform for families and child care providers to rethink the way they book and pay each other.
How long did it take from idea conception to launch?
We got serious about PayMySitter in February 2015 and built out our fully functioning platform in 3 months.
Are there any background checks or vetting performed on the sitters in the circle?
PayMySitter operates on a passed-trust theory. There are lots of different platforms out there to help families discover new child-care (ie, Care.com, SitterCity), but we focus on managing the sitters you already use, trust, and love. Parents invite sitters to their family circle so the assumption is that families already know the sitter they are inviting and have performed whatever background check/vetting on their own before sending that invitation.
How do parents find sitters to add to their circles?
Our core belief is that the connection between the parent and the sitter will remain personal. We have found that word-of-mouth referrals between parents is the strongest tool to finding childcare. We have embraced that philosophy to make it easy, safe, and secure to connect with your trusted sitter. Sitters and parents can connect with each other by sending invitations to join their circles. Parents have the option to share their circle with other families they have connected with on our platform.
Does each sitter set their own hourly rate?
We found that sitters often have different rates for different families. For instance, a sitter caring for a pair of brothers in middle school is different than caring for a family with 3 children under the age of 6. Since there is so much variation, the rate is not fixed in the system so the sitter/parent can input whatever rate that are paying for that particular job.
In the same vein, we know that the question of “what do I pay my sitter” is a hot topic. We combat that in two ways. One, we have a built in estimator that suggests how much to pay your sitter that is dependent upon how many children are being cared for. Two, we plan on writing a series of blog posts to help families determine how much they should pay their sitter for their specific family situation.
Ultimately, we aim for our estimator to become the industry standard for determining in-home childcare rates.
If a sitter doesn't show up for a job, do you offer any backup service?
No. After you book, we reaffirm to the sitter and to the parent that if anything changes or either party needs to cancel, it is the responsibility of the sitter and/or parent to communicate those changes.
Is there a minimum number of hours you must book a sitter?
Have most parents hired the sitters they add to their circle before and are therefore already familiar with them?
Yes. We know that finding childcare is super personal and most families want to meet the sitter before they book them. When that isn’t possible, families rely on other families to give them trusted recommendations. We want to support that strong word-of-mouth connection and we feel we do that through giving the parents the power to only invite sitters they already know and trust.
We have an optional feature where parents can share their trusted sitters with their friends.
Besides the monthly or annual PayMySitter fee and the actual sitter fee, are there any other costs? (Credit card fee, mileage fee).
First and foremost, sitters do not incur any fees at any time. Once a parent joins PayMySitter and builds out their family circle, they have full access to schedule their sitters without any additional fees. If the parent chooses to pay their sitter through our system, there is an 8.5% transaction fee. There are no mileage or booking fees.
Is this app specific to the Charlotte/NC area only?
The app is not specific to Charlotte, we have customers all over the world! Currently, our system only supports transactions using US dollars. However, since we are Charlotte-loving people, we are focusing our launch within the Charlotte area.