Enginehire Features: PEAS IN A POD AGENCY

-Emma Wright-Smith

-Peas in a Pod Agency

What was your first job?

My parents had often described me as someone with the same entrepreneurial sense whether that be referring to my milk-bar side hustle of pocketing five cents from every gobstober (type of lolly) transaction in year four, or the slightly more legitimate piano school I started in year ten, being desperate to make my own money. I always had a certain drive about me, never content with the lull, thriving off busyness and that’s what’s landed me where I am today.

What inspired you to start your business?

I was approached by the original founder of Peas, with the offer to buy her business. It makes sense to me in hindsight why I never really faced any moments of serious doubt. Even when they did emerge, it was always brief – I had always been a carer, I knew it was the right thing to do. There I was, 19-years-old, second year at The University of Melbourne, two days after landing my first nannying gig with Peas and I was about to be the owner. To say a mixture of emotions rushed through me would be an understatement. I was excited and the adrenaline rushed through me because I knew my world was about to change.

What is your core value that guides you?

Growing up as the eldest of four siblings, I fit the archetype of the ‘bossy eldest daughter’ basically since I could remember. My brothers would still tell you to this day that listening to me was the only way we would ever get out the door. As a big family, we were always leaning on friends and relatives for the support that every family needs. That was until one day my middle brother injured himself so severely, he was facing the next six months in a wheelchair. This is when Stacey came into the picture – our very first nanny.
Even at the young age of eight I could recognise how important support was.
I am immensely proud to be the owner of a business that is not only completely women owned and operated, but also operates with the mission to make women’s lives easier. While we absolutely love our Peas dads and are so happy when they’re the ones reaching out to us, 95 percent of our clients are busy working mums. To be a working mum you need reliable, trustworthy support and that’s what Peas offers.

What makes your company a standout and why do people want to work with you?

Our vetting process is what ensures that level of reliance and comfortability for our Peas families. What separates us from the other agencies out there is our word-of-mouth system. Essentially, it’s like asking your friend where she got her great sitter from but a larger, Melbourne-wide, scale. When it comes to finding good care for your kids, trust is so important, this is what we’ve been working to naturally build over the past seven years. Although it doesn’t always feel like it, Melbourne is a pretty small world and here at Peas every single sitter on our books is referred by a member of our Peas community. That trust and comfortability goes both ways, we want our sitters to feel safe going to our families’ homes.

What makes a client or candidate to work with?

We love candidates and clients who understand that it can take time to find the right family. When speaking to parents, I often use the terminology of ‘finding the right pair of jeans or even the right partner’ in a way similar to finding the right nanny. Clients who are understanding of this and who can be flexible are the best to work with. Candidates who are great communicators and are patient with the process are our favourite!

What is your specialty?

Our speciality is the boutique nature of Peas in a Pod. Through the word of mouth system we have in place, we are able to create incredibly intimate  relationships between the nanny and family. We’ve witnessed over the years nannies staying with their families for five to six years. Families go out of their way to support their nannies who’ve done sensational work, often introducing them to industry connections or helping them get a foot in the door for something they are passionate about. Nannies have had the opportunity to go on once in a lifetime holiday with their generous families, becoming a lasting figure in a gorgeous little one’s life.
I know what my business offers to families and most importantly women and it is incredibly valuable. We’re building the village for the families of Melbourne and Sydney.

What do you wish people knew about your industry (maybe the biggest misconception)?

The care industry, in particular babysitting and nannying doesn’t have to be lonely job. I think people don’t want to become carers because they’d rather work at a pub in a workplace surrounded by people. Nannying especially has so many opportunities to connect you to people around you. Especially at Peas, we have created an incredible community of sitters in which we try to bring nannies together who are working in the same area/days. We also put on events for our nannies to bring them together.

What is the single greatest achievement you’ve made in your career?

The biggest achievement I am very proud of is getting our systems in order. Often, many small businesses don’t have the resources or knowledge about what system is best. I’ve tried it all – you name it. We started as a Whatsapp group chat where messages would often get lost. We’ve used google docs, sheets to try keep a track of the applications but again things would get lost. Then along came Enginehire and I think to myself everyday, I wish I had this when I started Peas 6 years ago. Transitioning 700 sitters across and thousands of families was tricky but we’ve finally reached the destination. Building an app with the Enginehire team has been so rewarding also and I am so incredibly proud of how far the systems of Peas have evolved.
I also love the community we’ve created, especially between our nannies. Evidenced through our instagram, we’ve put on events for our sitters to come together and meet each other and exchange stories.

How do you envision the future of your business?

I am a big dreamer and always am thinking of ways we can expand. I think school holiday programs are something that we could expand into possibly one day!

Are you working on any exciting projects?

There is always fun behind the scenes work that goes on – some come to fruition and some don’t, that’s all part of it. We are currently working on building our collaborations which is an exciting space.
What is the best advice that you would share with a budding entrepreneur?
Honestly I could write a book about the advice I wish I’d had as a young entrepreneur, especially in the nanny space. As I embark on my sixth year as a business owner my biggest learning is that I will no longer sell myself short. I think it’s very easy to do this in the early days, but I know what my business offers to families and most importantly women and it is incredibly valuable.

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