Host Families choose their particular Au Pair Agency for all sorts of reasons.
They might choose the agency their neighbors use, the agency that has the best promotional deal, or even the agency that has a name they can spell correctly when they are googling in the middle of the night having been awakened again by a child or by their own nightmares about being unable to hold everything together any longer.
Families occasionally switch from one agency to another when they’ve had a bad experience, such as a relentlessly unhelpful local counselor or someone at headquarters who won’t return their calls. When this happens, host families are happy to scorch the earth behind them.
Indeed, for some, the more huffily and dramatically they can leave their disappointing agency, the better. (Not because they are mean people, but because they seek to make a point.)
Agencies, for their part, generally want to make us host families happy. It’s much easier and less costly to keep a current client than it is to acquire and ‘break in’ a new family.
Smart agencies, when they see that our contracts are at the 8 month mark, start to reconnect so that they can help us move into a new year as a host family and a client.
What happens, then, if you’re perfectly satisfied with the service you’ve received from an agency, but you’re planning to switch to a different one?
Host Mom Deirdre has this question:
What do you tell your current agency when you are switching to a new agency? I’ve been with one agency for a few years, and I just matched with an au pair from a different agency. She will come after my current au pair’s year is up.
I would rather not burn any bridges, because I might come back to my first agency again in the future. They didn’t do anything wrong, I just found the best au pair with a different agency this time (after looking and interviewing extensively with candidates from both agencies). And this au pair is from a country where my first agency does not recruit APs. I signed up with this other agency because I’ve heard good things about it (mostly on this blog) and I want to give it a try.
I would love to just not say anything, except that my current agency is still actively trying to help me match (I have an active application with them for another year). Of course I need to de-activate my application, and I guess they will ask me why. I suppose I could say that I am using a different type of childcare and leave it at that, but I wonder if that could come back to bite me.
Does anyone have any advice/experience in this area? Am I worrying needlessly?
I’d advise Deirdre to tell the agency the truth– that while she’s been happy with the agency’s service, she wants an au pair from a country they don’t work with.
By being forthcoming about the actual details, Deirdre can give the agency some feedback it can work with. The agency rep won’t wonder needlessly if they did something wrong in their relationship with Deirdre. They might also get a better sense of the demand for au pairs from this particular country.
And, the agency might realize– if their service is fine but their relationships are not strong enough that they hold on to their customer, perhaps they can up their game.
LCCs and Agency Folks, what would you wish this host mom would tell you?
Parents, would you rather not say why you’re leaving, just in case?
Image: Hawthorne drops, by Evan Leeson, on Flickr