When my kids were young, we could rely on neighbourhood teens to offer up babysitting services. But as time went on babysitting jobs started exceeding availability of qualified sitters. I know my neighbours were in the same boat. In our area, reliable sitters also competed with their own increasingly busy social calendars. And when there was a big event happening in our family-centric neighbourhood, many parents knew they had to secure their favourite sitters a few weeks in advance with enticing bonuses of pizza and transportation. You think booking a reservation at the latest hot restaurant is difficult? We wished there was something that made the process more streamlined. Well, finally, we’ve come across a new way to secure your trusted sitters. Enter BIRDIE BREAK — a new on demand childcare app service that connect parents to carefully selected and trained sitters right here in Canada.
Led by two Canadian female entrepreneurs who understand the demands and needs of today’s busy family. The women represent both sides of the business – Cressida is a mom of two boys and Melanie is a former nanny and she tells us, “a favorite auntie”. The ladies are passionate about making a difference in parents and children’s lives by giving parents the ability to say “YES” – to date nights, spa days, work events, reconnecting with friends, running errands or whatever else they need to get to! Birdie Break was created to provide a high-level service and aim to add value to families lives + make sure everyone has a positive experience – especially the most precious of all, the kids!
What’s in the app?
The app offers a detailed profile on each childcare/tutor to help families learn more about them and to help find the right fit. It includes any special personal info they wish to share, their hourly rates and families can immediate book right within the app. The Birdie Break app also keeps track of your bookings and details provided so you can stay on top of everything. Payments are made directly through the app so no worries about running to the bank machine or etransfers.
We checked in with co-founder Melanie to learn more!
How do you vet the sitters/tutors and are they insured?
Melanie: All Birdie Providers are thoroughly vetted through a 7 step Screening & Training process:
1. Social Media Scan
3. ID Verification (certn.co)
4. Online Database SoftCheck (certn.co)
5. Enhanced Criminal Background Check (certn.co)
6. CPR/Choking Training
7. Birdie Sitter School
Birdie Break Inc. is insured, but individual sitters are responsible for their own insurance as they are considered independent contractors.
Do you provided references or have you checked references for both sides?
Melanie: Each sitter is required to provide two references when applying and they are available upon request by a parent.
When a parent signs up for the app, what information is needed upon registration?
Melanie: When a parent signs up for the app we need some information about their family to share with the sitters. This includes: Name, Email, Phone #, Address, # of Children, # of Pets, & The Household Rules (screen time, dinner/sleep regimes etc) This info is shared with our highly curated and closed group of sitters, to determine if their skill sets and geo locations will be a great fit for that family.
What do you do to help protect the babysitters/tutors on your roster?
Melanie: All parent sign-ups are monitored through our app for any potential red-flags (we are proudly 15,000+ successful babysitting hours since 2017 and no hiccups), we provide 24/7 customer service and are available to our sitters if they ever have a question or are in need of support.
Are there also opportunity to have tutors virtually?
Melanie: Absolutely, that would just be a note mentioned in the “Additional Details” text box when the parent places the request.
How little notice is needed to book someone?
Melanie: We allow the app to accommodate requests for min 2 hours in advance, however more lead time generally offers much more selection and success in finding a sitter. Sitters have busy lives as well and their schedules get booked up quickly, although we have had great success with last minute bookings – it’s always worth a shot!
Is there a rating system on both sides of the table here?
Melanie: We don’t rate our sitters, we didn’t feel it was a healthy way to operate the business by rating human beings. Birdie Break proudly declares that “All Birdie Sitters are 5 Star Sitters” and nothing less. We operate on a two strike rule and unfortunately on the 3rd strike it’s off the platform – if a sitter is late for example, that is one strike. This has allowed us to maintain the most reliable and high-quality service for our parents. When you book a Birdie sitter, regardless of which one you select as a great fit for your family, you can be sure they are a 5 star sitter.
If you find someone you’d like to book repeatedly is that an option?
Melanie: Absolutely, you can write their name in the “Additional Details” of your request when you send it out – eg. “This request is for Sarah Jordan,” the sitter will see the request, then apply and you can confirm them.
So, as business owners and founders of this service, how do you make your money on this venture?
Melanie: Birdie adds a small fee on top of the sitter’s hourly rate. The parent only sees this final hourly rate – what they see is what they pay, no extra surprises or hidden fees. Sitter’s Birdie rates range from $20/hr-$33/hr. They are some of the best in the industry and they put in the extra effort to make sure the parent receives great value – engaged and playtime with the little ones, follow parent’s instructions closely, limit screen time, guide and teach etc
How is payment made to the babysitter/tutor?
Melanie: Payment is made seamlessly within the app. Upon confirming your first sitter, you will be asked to enter your credit card info into the app (we use the extremely secure 3rd party platform Stripe). Once entered you never have to enter it again or worry about payment. After each shift the sitters work with your family, they enter their hours and it triggers payment on the card – it’s that easy!
What happens if a parent is not happy with the sitter/tutor?
Melanie: We pride ourselves in offering great customer service. If this occurs we will speak to both parties, get the full details and determine a course of action. If the sitter has provided unsatisfactory work, we will act accordingly and support the parent in determining a fair direction through re-course – refund, discount on next booking etc. However in saying this, we rarely come into this situation as our sitters go through an extensive Birdie Sitter School and the expectations of a Birdie Sitter are clearly communicated – we uphold the highest standards for our sitters.
What about families with special needs? Can you accommodate them as well?
Melanie: Absolutely, the parent is simply required to enter those details on their family’s profile and in the “Additional Details” when they request a sitter. We have many sitters with experience for different disabilities and several are even nurses who babysit for Birdie outside their regular jobs.
If I have a teen who is interested in joining as a sitter/tutor what’s the process for them to get in contact with you?
Melanie: We would love to collect their name/info and get in touch as soon as they turn 18! All Birdie sitters are required to be 18+ at this time.
What else would be useful for us parents to know?
Melanie: Birdie is currently available in Edmonton, Calgary, Banff/Canmore, Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton and will be launching in Vancouver + Victoria in August.
Once you sign up and become a Birdie parent, you can easily change your request location in the app and source a Birdie sitter in a different market while you’re travelling!
Interested in learning more? Link here to BirdieBreak.com