Founder Stories: Kristy Bickmeyer On Building Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency
In today’s Founder Story, we feature Kristy Bickmeyer, Founder of Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency!
Read on for lessons she has learned from launching and marketing her nanny agency.
1. Please introduce your business and share your role.
My company is called Twinkle Toes Nanny Agency. We are a nanny agency that has franchised to reach 8 states and 22 locations. Our target audience is families who want to choose nanny care for their children, but don’t want to pay a huge placement fee and be left with no backup care if their nanny is ever unavailable.
Twinkle Toes is different from other agencies because we charge nothing upfront and families only pay for the hours they use a nanny. For the nanny, it’s ideal because they have backup nannies who can fill in for them if they’re sick or just need time off. The nannies also have access to our online schedule system so they can work with other families on nights or weekends to earn more money.
2. What’s your backstory, what kind of challenges did you face, and how did you come up with your business idea?
I started in Gainesville, FL in 2011 when I had trouble finding childcare for my son when I had to return to my corporate job. There was a nanny agency in town but they required $2000 up front just to meet nannies.
I still had to come up with a contract with them, pay them, pay all of their payroll taxes, and the placement was only guaranteed for 90 days. So if she quit in 100 days, I would have to pay the fee again and start all over. Not to mention the fact that then I was counting solely on one person. What happened if she got sick, had car trouble, or wanted to go on vacation? I had no backup.
Having worked as a nanny for this agency for a long time, I saw issues with it from the nanny’s perspective too. I had to go to work when I had the flu because the parents I worked for were both surgeons and they could not cancel surgery because I was sick.
I missed family vacations because there was no sub for me. And then there were times when a family would promise me a certain rate, but on payday, the pay was not what we had agreed to. Or their check would bounce, so many issues!
So when I came up with the concept for Twinkle Toes, it would be something that benefitted both nannies and families.
3. How did you prepare for, and go about your launch?
In the beginning, my budget was $0 and I worked on the business on my lunch break at my corporate job or while I nursed my son at night. I registered the business name and got a business phone and started spreading the word just by talking to anyone and everyone I met about it.
My first big break was when the surgeons I had nannied for put me in touch with the HR person at their hospital, she took time to meet with me and sent an email blast out to all of the physicians there. I also did door hangers, went to a TON of networking groups, put brochures up in my OBGYN and pediatrician’s office, we were everywhere.
4. How did you come up with your logo and the visual identity for your brand?
Funny story. I knew I wanted an elephant (that was the first thing I ever got for my son’s nursery when I first found out I was pregnant), but I loved the idea of this big clumsy animal doing ballet. So I had a friend draft it up.
Plus, the name Twinkle Toes kind of goes with a ballet-dancing elephant. A few years later, my aunt in Pennsylvania saw my business on Facebook and said “Did you name it after Granddaddy? You know that’s what everyone used to call him”. I had no idea! Or at least, I had no conscious memory of that. But he, like an elephant, was a big clumsy creature so they called him Twinkle Toes sarcastically.
5. Since launching, what types of marketing campaigns and designs have worked best to attract and retain customers?
We have a very niche market, so we do more targeted marketing. In the initial training, we identify 3 zip codes that are prime for Twinkle Toes and we totally saturate those zips. We do digital, networking, co-marketing and partnerships, direct mailers, anything we can do so that everywhere the residents of those zip codes look, they see TWINKLE TOES,
6. What have been the most influential brands for your business? Whose branding and marketing do you aspire to and why?
Nothing national comes to mind, but I remember when a new orthodontist opened in town I saw his name absolutely everywhere. That’s the concept behind our opening strategies.
7. What are your favorite marketing platforms/tools?
I LOVE Canva!
8. Who or what inspires and motivates you?
My family motivates me to keep going on to the next goal. The feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction that comes from a job well done motivates me. But the best was being able to help someone in need once I became successful.
We decided to start and grow the business without taking on debt so that every penny that came in could go back into the company. As a result, once I was able to pay my overhead and I had profit coming in, I immediately started looking for causes to support and people who needed help.
I love supporting the foster care community, single moms, and a local children’s cancer non-profit called the Phoebe Louise Dooley Foundation.
9. What are some lessons you’ve learned along the way that you would share with entrepreneurs hoping to launch or who have just launched?
Oh boy, so many. Done is better than perfect. When someone shows you who they are, believe them. And always give grace: to yourself and to others.
10. What do you believe are the qualities of a good entrepreneur? And what makes a team successful?
I’ve never met a successful entrepreneur who’s a pessimist. If you’re not optimistic and hopeful, you’re not going to get far.
11. Let us know where we can go to learn more!