Today we welcome Melissa Ridler, owner of The Nanny Connection to our Meet A Mom blog! Melissa has provided many families with quality childcare over the years. We had an opportunity to ask Melissa more about her and her journey as a female entrepreneur in the Cleveland market.
Where are you originally from?
Born in Kettering Ohio, near Dayton then my family moved to the Cleveland area shortly after.
Where did you go to school & what is your current profession?
High School at Trinity HS, College at Kent State, now Owner and Agency Director at The Nanny Connection
Where do you live today and how long have you lived in this area?
Lived in the Cleveland area most of my life, except for a short stint in Cincinnati before we returned home. I met my husband in Lakewood, but we now reside in Solon.
How many children do you have & what are their ages?
My son is 12, and I have a daughter who is 9 years old!
What is your favorite thing about Northeast Ohio?
The Metroparks are so large, and there are so many opportunities to enjoy them, but each time I find a hidden treasure in the Metroparks, I feel like it is my personal oasis! I also appreciate the area’s diversity and opportunity for community activities catering to a variety of interests.
What is one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?
I love to play cards, and family game night with board games as well. The boys at the Poker table never see me coming!
What is your proudest accomplishment?
Besides my children, I am proud of my developing expertise in my field. I have built an inspired team, focused on carrying out our mission to help families find high quality childcare.
What is your biggest failure?
My first entrepreneurial venture was a retail shoe store that focused on formal women’s shoes (for weddings and proms). We were a victim of recession and Zappos at the time, but the lessons we learned about business, customer service, money management and finances were invaluable.
What is the one thing you’re most passionate about?
I strive to educate families on the importance of treating nannies as professionals and recognize their value in caring for the most important little people in their lives. I see, and hear too many stories about nannies being treated or paid unfairly by families. I know that childcare can be very expensive, but if a family wants a Mary Poppins, she is challenging to find and usually comes at much higher cost.
Can you give us one pearl of wisdom?
Surround yourself with people who lift you up and inspire you! If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, then find people or groups that you admire to help you get there.
If you could encourage more people to take an action in some way, what would it be?
Find something you are sincerely passionate about, and put everything into it: Heart, soul, sweat, blood and tears!
Is there anyone special you’d like to thank for helping you through parenthood?
As they say “it takes a village” I appreciate the support of my friends and family. My husband, Bill is a true partner in raising our children and running our business. I couldn’t do it without him!
What made you decide to open The Nanny Connection?
The Nanny Connection was started in Hudson in 2004, we branched off from the the parent company in 2012 to focus on the Cleveland area, then acquired the entire business in 2013. At the time, I was looking for a flexible part time position to get back in the workforce with my children starting school. I have always been passionate about child care and helping families find the resources they need, so the business fit in with my entrepreneurial spirit and desire to provide assistance to families, specifically related to the care and well being of their children.
Do you only offer full-time nanny placements?
We offer a large range of services, most of the help we provide to families and businesses is on a part time basis. This could be anything from an occasional babysitter, to a nanny needed just 2 or 3 days per week, to full and part time long term nanny. Families can also take advantage of our screening only services to help them vet nannies that they have found on their own. We even offer Corporate back-up care, where employers subsidize the childcare for their employees when schools or day cares are closed, when the children are sick and the parent must work, or any other occasional child care needs they may have. If your employer does not offer it, call me!
What vetting do you do for the nannies?
Most people don’t realize that less than 10% of our applicants ever work with one of our families. Many applicants weed themselves out because they are not willing to put in the time to complete our rigorous screening. Our vetting process includes a complete employment application, multiple interviews, multiple employment and reference checks, driving record review, and the criminal background check, of course. We also require our candidates have adult, child and infant FA/CPR certification, and many come with additional courses or degrees in Childcare Education.
When do you recommend starting to search for a nanny?
Each search can be unique based on the position requirements, hours, pay and location. You can never be too early in your search to find a nanny, but we would recommend giving yourself at least 2-3 months if possible to find, interview and vet your candidates. However, we do often have families with less time that we assist as well. If necessary, we can provide temporary care while seeking a longer term nanny for a family.
What is your favorite part about owning a nanny agency?
I love getting to know a variety of families and help them find solutions to their childcare needs. So not only do have satisfied families, each year I help hundreds of professional nannies and sitters fulfill their passion by finding great families to work with.