Be the Best Paid Babysitter on the Block!
Now that you’ve snagged some clients, you have to keep them. To get in with the good families—the ones who tip generously, and keep the fridge stocked with Coke and frozen pizzas—ya gotta stand out. Be honest and confident from your first encounter. Never hesitate to let parents know if you only sit for kids (no babies) or that you’re a nightmare in the kitchen and only feel comfy making cheese and crackers. This way ‘rents will feed the tykes before you arrive or leave money for Domino’s.
Parents really appreciate knowing their sitter’s comfort level. As your skills and confidence increase, let clients know. It all gets factored into that big fat dollar sign! Let the parents know your rate—up front. Talk with other sitters you know to get a gauge of what other girls charge.
If you’re new on the sitting scene, charge slightly less. If you’re a good sitter and a wee bit cheaper, your phone oughta ring off the hook. A plus for busy parents is guaranteed transport so if you have an older sib who can give you a lift, mention it.
Babysitters everywhere get paid varying rates, but the pay usually ranges from $5 to $8 an hour. If they don’t ask how much you charge, find out what they are used to paying and negotiate an amount everyone is comfortable with. Most states have a minimum wage, so you shouldn’t expect much less than that. You can also increase your rate depending on how many kids are in your care—say, $6 an hour for one kid, plus $2 for each extra kid. Whatever you do, discuss it beforehand. You don’t want to leave the house with $9 after three grueling hours of trying to appease a screaming 6-month-old.
“I take what they give me,” admits Jackie, an experienced sitter. Setting rates with potential employers can often feel awkward. What if you announce your rate, and they look at you like you’re insane? Or agree so readily you know you charged too little?
Prices often vary, depending on where you live, your age and experience, number of children you’re responsible for, how late parents will be out, and whether you will be expected to perform other services, such as pet care. Do some detective work to be sure you’re setting reasonable fees. What do your friends charge? How much do baby-sitting instructors suggest?
Once you decide what you want to charge, talk to parents before accepting the job. Ask questions about your responsibilities first. It’ll calm your jitters, let you know how hard the job will be and impress potential employers with your professionalism. Then, state your price (do not ask it like a question, eyebrows raised), and see how they respond.
If they feel your price is too high, they’ll be the first to say so. Then, you have three choices. You can refuse the job in hopes of getting others, compromise for now, or accept less from this particular parent. “I am more willing to take less for the twins around the corner who are well-behaved than for the brother and sister next door who are always fighting,” reasons Jessica. And, when you have more experience and the parents feel more comfortable with you, you can always ask for a raise!
As a business person, you should think about each job offer. If you think your prices are fair and are unwilling to accept the figure your future boss just offered, politely refuse the work. Good sitters are worth their weight in gold, and you have the right to expect fair payment.
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