Do you remember those challenging times when your mind was occupied by a million questions: How can I start my own nanny app? Whom should I attract first to my Uber for babysitting: parents or caregivers? How can I make my app viral? It’s not a secret that recommendations run the babysitting world, and parents are still afraid of hiring somebody through an app. To overcome this hesitation, you need to find a special instrument that will incentivize parents to use your app and keep using it.
You’ve probably already seen heaps of marketing tools to attract users, such as loyalty programs and bonuses. UrbanSitter, for instance, offers a splendid referrals program: invite a friend and get $35 off your next nanny. Most of these tools work, of course, but in our article we want to try another tack and shed light on the technology side of user engagement.
[Image source: UrbanSitter]
Everything starts with an MVP
In numerous interviews, Lynn Perkins, CEO of UrbanSitter, admits that her future “Uber for nannies” began with an MVP. We definitely want to decode these three letters now.
A Minimum Viable Product, or MVP as we just called it, is a product fitted with a minimum set of features that your app needs to survive and stand out from the crowd of competitors. But an MVP doesn’t mean that your application must be crude. You need to determine all the features you would like in your app and choose the essential ones.
The main goal of an MVP is to check the viability of your app, that is, to make sure that people want to use your product. Although you can have tons of ideas that seem genius at first blush, you can’t divine the future. “We must learn what customers really want, not what they say they want or what we think they should want,” says Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup.
An MVP helps you save time and money and gives you the opportunity to launch your product as soon as possible. By gathering feedback, you can evaluate your idea quickly and add further updates.
In most cases, babysitting apps are platforms. Such platforms facilitate the gig economy where customers hire independent workers for short-term engagements.
Hence, while developing an MVP, you should think in terms of platform business models. You have to pay attention to the value that you will provide your users, not the features. You should also figure out how to facilitate interactions between users at a high level. Your core value must lay the base for these interactions.
Before or during the MVP stage, you’d better consider the main ways that users engage with your app. It’s a huge mistake to think of promotion only after you’ve already released your app. If you do, you’ll end up with mere marketing approaches, whereas you could be building tools into your app to promote your product. To correct that mistake, you’ll spend additional money.
But what do we mean by ways that users engage? And whom should you invite first to your “nanny Uber”? Let’s discuss these questions.
Whom to attract first – parents or babysitters?
If you don’t have parents, babysitters won’t come to your platform. Conversely, if you don’t have nannies on demand, parents won’t use your app. This severe cycle seems to be endless.
To determine who you will engage first, think of your target audience. Each platform has a group of users that is harder to attract. With babysitting apps, these are parents. Your unique value proposition should be focused on them.
You need to figure out a model that will incentivize parents to join your app and remain while you get babysitters. But remember that there must be no friction in the feedback loop. If a parent comes in first, then the platform should make it easy for a babysitter to follow the lead.
“The solution to the chicken and egg problem requires a bait that can break the vicious cycle of no activity,” asserts Sangeet Paul Choudary in Platform Scale. In other words, you need to offer your clients a unique value that will dazzle them and make them return to your app over and over. But what might this “bait” be?
Trusted and SitterNote came up with brilliant ideas that have gained traction. Trusted enabled live streaming video. This way parents have the opportunity to check what’s going on at any moment no matter where they are.
[Image source: Quora]
In SitterNote, you can create a standalone profile for your child and add specific preferences: “Carolina adores the Cinderella story and we read it every evening”; or “Alex needs to pay more attention to math.” You can also note homework or any out-of-class activities. Notes can help a caregiver pay more attention to your children’s specific needs. Moreover, SitterNote serves also as a tool for communication. Once the homework is done, your nanny can send you real-time photos and discuss all the details with you via in-app messages.
We already know about the “bait” theory and that parents are harder to attract. The only thing we need to do is to investigate what parents want from your app.
The central problem you can face while attracting parents is mistrust. Care.com’s 2017 Babysitter Survey reports that 64 percent of parents don’t use babysitter services because “it’s too stressful to find someone they like and trust.” According to UrbanSitter’s survey, 68 percent of parents say that life would be hard or they’d be miserable without trusted child care.
To fill this trust gap, you need to use different trust-building methods such as recommendations, initial screenings, and extra guarantees.
[Image source: UrbanSitter]
Recommendations can win a parent’s heart. In fact, 88 percent of parents still ask their friends or neighbors for recommendations. This is why you need to create your own tool to bring those recommendations to your app. Think about how to make parents feel comfortable finding a nanny with your app.
UrbanSitter allows parents to create a list of their favorite sitters and browse the favorites in their community. Moreover, each nanny profile includes the number of “repeat families,” indicating how many families that sitter has worked with more than once.
[Image source: UrbanSitter]
2. Initial Screening
Curation tools come in many different forms. HelloSitter and Care.com run extensive background checks and full social media account reviews. Helpr and Trusted verify references and CPR certifications. Bambino and SitterCity created their own rate systems.
The majority of companies conduct in-person interviews. UrbanSitter and HelloSitter provide video profiles of their caregivers. One young girl, Peri, even created her own song about why she would be the perfect babysitter.
[Image source: UrbanSitter]
3. Extra guarantees
Even if you have well-checked and screened babysitters, there still can be some risks. In that vein, UrbanSitter asks both parents and babysitters to confirm job performance to prevent all possible accidents. In any emergency, UrbanSitter communicates with users by email or phone.
The concept of parent loyalty covers more areas than trust. When selecting a babysitter, 61 percent of parents make their choice based on “comfort they can get for themselves.” Hence, they need your app to be convenient and efficient. But how can you achieve this?
Convenience and efficiency
To make your app convenient, you can use various technologies and design patterns. But we recommend you pay special attention to availability, online payments and user-friendly design.
Nowadays, we often see families where both parents work. Some of these parents have flexible working hours, and at any minute their boss can call them back to work. Therefore, they need someone to stay with their children early on weekend mornings so they can have at least some rest, or overnight to spend a romantic evening. The verdict is that your babysitters should be available 24/7. Obviously, you have to provide real-time booking.
2. Online payments
Online payments ease your users’ lives. They also help to avoid embarrassing situations when parents don’t know how much to pay a babysitter. Moreover, you can earn extra money by taking fees. So it’s important to implement a payment system into your app.
Read also: Mobile App Payment Gateway Integration
3. User-friendly design
You should construct a simple flow that’s understandable for any users, allow fast navigation through your app, and add search functionality. You need to make sure that users always know how to use your app.
After you have examined the parents’ needs in detail, think about your babysitters’ needs.
What do babysitters need?
Many entrepreneurs truly believe that they provide perfect working conditions and don’t see any evident failures. Therefore, they can’t resolve the problem of contractors quitting. We want you to use winning patterns. This is why we have gathered the main issues that can scare your babysitters off and useful tips that will help you engage more babysitters.
Safety is one of the most vital needs. You need to provide a secure environment and have protection systems in place. How can you create such a system? You have to arrange 24/7 support so your babysitters can contact you in any critical situation. It would be a great idea to furnish your app with scanning technology to distinguish the initial signs of common scams and block those users immediately.
2. Workload and responsibilities
If anyone has once tried to look for a babysitting job, they know the battle: you can have a hundred interviews and get only one job offer. This is why a childcare app brings advantages for babysitters, as it can offer them jobs on a daily basis.
Nevertheless, caregivers often feel hounded by work. The reasons for this are parents’ coming back late, misunderstandings, and changing responsibilities: caregivers come to work as nannies and turn out to be housekeepers. For this reason, you should create a special tool in your app that will help users to determine all duties and working hours they agree to. To make this clear, UrbanSitter has created special graphs where parents can tip for extra duties such as bathing, bedtime routines, making meals, and so on.
3. Fair pay
The wage issue is a problem for freelancers. If you don’t provide fair pay, you’ll lose your contractors. Make sure that your wage rates are not too low; for instance, UrbanSitter doesn’t allow parents to set rates below $8/hr.
Do you need extra help evaluating your budget? Look over the Employer Budget Calculator created by Care.com, which can help out with tax issues. You can fill in different hourly rates and see how they impact your taxes and your employees’ take-home pay.
Who doesn’t like sweets? Present your employees with sweet bonuses. Urbansitter lets parents cover their babysitter’s transportation. The company also sends caregivers a useful text minutes before they start a job, such as: “top 5 tips on how to become the best sitter they’ve ever had.” These small treats make babysitters stay with you. And, of course, you can always add your own bonus system.
At Yalantis, we believe that innovative technology and the right combination of tools can transform any app. We’ve shared tips for success and main challenges that can appear while developing an on-demand babysitting app. These tips will help you attract more users to your application and make them stay for the long run.
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