Let’s face it. Small business ownership is not easy, especially a child care business. It takes commitment, perseverance, intelligence and hard work.
Lots of hard work.
You have to be willing to change with the times, pay attention to your market and adapt when necessary. Small businesses that go under tend to do so because they get “stuck in a rut” or are unable to change quickly enough to meet the new demands of their customers.
However, running a child care business is different.
While the need to adapt to market conditions is true for all businesses, including your daycare business, running a child care or preschool program requires a lot of other incredibly important skills.
You have to be educated and knowledgeable about early education. You need to be patient, loving, kind and open to new people. Your child care center or home daycare needs to be clean, safe, and your demeanor should always remain cheery and positive.
Sounds like a lot?
You’re right. It is. However, people run successful child care businesses all over the country, and you can to!
Here are a few tips to keep your daycare business going, continue to make profits, and grow:
- Have an online presence
Ten years ago, a child care business could get away with not having an online presence. If you didn’t have a website, you might have been considered a little bit “old fashioned” but you were still a credible business. However, in this day and age, in order to be relevant and maintain credibility, you must have a website or at least some type of web presence. Period.
If you can’t afford your own website, create a free listing on a child care search website like CareLuLu, for your family child care program or child care center. CareLuLu offers great resources so you can begin to build a name for yourself on the internet. If you have more time and can invest in daycare marketing, here are the Top 5 Online Marketing Strategies for Child Care Providers.
- Maintain communication and build relationships
You must be careful with your relationships in this business. Although child care is very much a business, it’s also something highly personal for families. These parents are entrusting you with their most prized and valuable possession – their child. You need to show appreciation of that fact and understand that they might want to be in constant communication with you. In many ways, their connection with you is their only connection with their child.
- Be different
Set yourself apart from other child care programs, and show that you are unique. There are lots of daycare centers and preschools out there. What sets YOU and YOUR child care program apart?
Is it the décor, the curriculum or the teaching philosophy? Do you incorporate extracurricular activities (internal link here?) like sports, cooking or art? Are you or your preschool teachers highly experienced or educated? Are you open earlier than other child care facilities in the area… or do you stay open later?
Find your niche and make sure to take advantage of it by letting the world know. Having high-tech tools like iPads or credentialed teachers won’t help you get more enrollments if you don’t tell parents.
- Adapt with your market
This is a very important aspect of your daycare business plan. You can’t simply rest on your laurels once you have had some success. You need to stay on top of your game and be vigilant in discovering the latest trends. For example, 30 years ago, a daycare was merely a place where a child was kept safe and fed all day.
That has changed significantly since the 1980’s, however.
Now, parents are looking for more than a babysitter. They want (rightfully!) an educational experience for their child. They want teachers who are educated and experienced. They want rooms that are vibrant, colorful and full of learning and growth. Child care centers and home-based daycares that fail to meet the new demands do not last long.
- Be sure to advertise and do child care marketing
Many child care programs, particularly in-home daycares, rely on word of mouth for their advertising. They tend to think that parents will talk to other parents and spread the word.
Of course, this is sometimes true. Parents DO talk. However, relying solely on word of mouth is a bad call. You should advertise through other means, and today, parents search online.
In fact, 80% of consumers use the Internet to research local businesses. This means that you need to focus your efforts on marketing your child care business online.
And yes, if you can, you should spend money on marketing. If you don’t know how much, here’s how much you should spend on marketing your child care program.
There are of course other ways to advertise. For instance, holding a child care or preschool open house works well to get to know the community. Here’s how to organize a successful preschool open house.
In short, to say that running a child care business is easy would be a lie.
To say that being a preschool teacher or a child care providers is easy would also be completely untrue. The fact is that owning your own daycare or preschool is a huge undertaking.
Of course, you need to be a patient and loving caregiver, but being a child care owner requires a unique combination of education, experience, and business savvy. If you want to remain successful, you will need to adapt, advertise, set yourself apart and remain relevant.