Friday, December 15, 2006

Sittercity update

Last month, I wrote about how impressed I was with Sittercity. It’s a clean site, focused on an important task (helping parents and babysitters find each other), and they’ve successfully built out a terrific community and what I presume is a very healthy business.

It’s interesting to me that this is the prototypical social networking site, albeit with a twist: it exists to facilitate strong networks of trust between individuals, so that one of the groups (the parents) can be social outside the house. The site doesn’t give you all kinds of ambiguous abilities to make friends, create complicated profile pages, or other fluff that is all too common on social networking sites these days: it just makes it easy for parents to find a qualified sitter, then leave feedback for other parents so that they can help future parents learn from their successes (“Sarah was outstanding!”) or failures (“Laurie never showed on New Year’s Eve, leaving us unable to go out with friends. Totally unreliable.”)

The first sitter we met could not be a better fit for what we needed: she’s personable, professional (she’s actually an elementary school teacher) and loves kids. She’s not so young that we’re worried about leaving her with all three kids, and she’s been incredibly responsive. Our house was actually cleaner when we got home than when we left. That’s nutty.

But now that I’ve had a few weeks to observe my interactions with Sittercity, there’s one other element of the site that reinforces my feeling that they simply get it. As I mentioned in my original post:

If you give it a try and mention my username (rickklau), you’ll get a discount (apparently 10% or more) and I’ll get a few bucks towards a movie ticket — which might be a nice way to spend one of those nights off once we find a couple sitters we like.
Amazingly enough, a few of you did sign up, and that means that I’ve now got several Fandango dollars to spend on an upcoming movie. (Actually, enough for two movie nights for Robin and I.) Rather than discount our monthly fee (why would you? We’ve already determined it’s worth paying each month), they’re actually giving us something that increases the likelihood that we’ll use their service: free money to go see a movie (necessitating a babysitter). That’s clever.

So… if you haven’t already given Sittercity a try, head on over there. I couldn’t be more impressed with the site. (And thanks to those who listed me as a referral!)


  1. [...] I’m probably not the biggest expert in the world when it comes to finding baby sitters, but I read about this site,, over at Rick Klau’s blog then checked it out with a few local searches, and think they may be on to something here. [...]

  2. Thanks for the review, Rick. The feedback I got from asking this question in Ann Arbor was that people had pretty good luck here from Craig's List, but I wonder how much the dynamics change in medium sized college town vs. urban metropolis.

  3. Ed - We kept an eye on Craigslist postings, but found that the listings were hit-or-miss, and most importantly, there was no incentive to sitters to be responsive (unlike Sittercity, where the parental ratings are a strong incentive to the sitters to be good participants).

    I think you're right that the area you're in may play a big part - we're in a big suburb where finding a good sitter is pretty tough (and the competition is fierce!).


  4. I am a long time user of sittercity and have watched the site grow through the last few years. While I have found a few good sitters through the site, my experience is that the sitters listed are not great fits and rarely respond to communication via the site. The real power of the site when you post your listing and sitters find you. They rarely have the benefits you mention of rating by other users, however often you sometimes get better quantity and quality that way.

    There are a few other sites like this including I know because after using Sittercity for a few years, my renewal came up post expiration date on my credit card, so they cancelled the membership and require a $20 activation fee to start using the site again and paying the monthly fee.

  5. Cindy - Thanks for sharing your experience. Sad to see you had problems with responsiveness - I've had the exact opposite experience! When I reached out to sitters, I almost always had a reply within a day, many within hours. We've already found a handful of sitters who we now turn to on a fairly regular basis. The few times we had a short-term need, posting a job yielded several dozen applications - the only challenge was weeding through them to find someone who was a good fit!

    We're more than two months into our experience so far, and we couldn't be happier. It's made a huge difference for us - my wife and I get out more often, and the kids have enjoyed getting to know a few new sitters!

  6. Another great sitter site is The site is very user-friendly, and sitters are screened by a group of moms. They also do free background checks. I've had great luck with them, and now have a "pool" of great sitters to call on when needed. Also, you can get a discount on joining by using the code CLUBMOM.

  7. A great site similar to Sittercity but for daycare is www.daycarematch.comss It's structured similar to sittycity, and has some sitters, but the main focus is home daycares.

  8. I've had great experiences with - it is a relatively new entry to this field - it is actually a FREE resource doing the same thing. Caregivers post profiles, families leave references, and the user can run a background check by themselves. It has a great presence in the urban areas, and the caregivers tend to be more responsive than on the other sites because of the site's ability to connect to them via SMS.