You worked your tail off building a daycare from the ground up. You rely on this business. Caring for children every day is the fulfillment of your life. You cannot afford to lose this asset.
The bad news, we are in a nosedive straight for a recession. The good news, I am prepared to arm you with top-of-the-line facts, and tried-and-true navigation tools, which will keep your business booming.
America has been hit by many recessions before. Between 2007 and 2009 we were impacted by what was known as The Great Recession. Unemployment soared during this time, and the impacts lasted long after the recession had ended. Many businesses, including thousands of childcare facilities went bankrupt and shut their doors.
Knowing the specific ways that the economy was effected by recessions in the past will help you to predict and prepare for ways which you and your business may be impacted in coming recessions.
“Okay, so I know what is coming, but how do I successfully navigate my daycare through this recession?” I hear you.
Anticipate community need
This will mean different things, depending on where you live. If your town’s economy is primarily fueled by the retail and construction industries, you might expect high rates of unemployment and great economic decline in your area. However, if you live in a college town, where the economy is fueled largely by jobs in education, the effects of the recession might have much less impact. Not only will this directly affect the continued operation of your daycare, but it may also affect how you price your services.
Find out if your state offers public preschool
It is important to stay up to date with your state’s public preschool policy. During The Great Recession, a number of states drastically decreased public preschool funding, combined preschool with Headstart, or put plans for creating new preschools on hold.
This kind of shift in policy would greatly benefit private daycare businesses, as parents would be forced to turn to them for childcare services. However, in states where private preschool is still thriving, parents may be more likely to turn to state-run facilities rather than privately-run ones. For this reason, it is essential to stay up-to-date on expansion plans, benefits, and any changes in the offers made by private preschools in your region.
Expand your business to accommodate expanding need
Consider your current business services, and where there is room to expand. Consider expanding not only for the need of the community you serve, but also the financial needs of your business; provide much needed help to customers at fair and reasonable prices, while earning extra income on the side. Some helpful examples of expanding services can be found below:
- Before or after school care
- Pick up/drop off services, where licensed drivers and vehicles are available
- Early childhood education
- Drop-in care for non-enrolled students
- Parent and family workshops or classes
- Utilize your space for more than childcare!
o Cooking classes in the kitchen
o Yoga classes in the backyard
o Cookouts in the backyard
o Rent the space (if it is big enough) for parties, community meetings, etc. when it is not in use to continue revenue flow
This one is important. In a recession, the last thing you want to do is spend more money. So, where can you cut back in your daycare expenses? The answer to this question will vary from one business to another, but here are a few ideas to get your gears turning:
- Instead of brand new toys and furniture, buy secondhand items. Set up a used toy drive, or use social media platforms to request donations.
- Buying items in bulk can often give you more bang for your buck. Consider bulk stores like BJ’s, Costco, and Sam’s Club for your food and home goods items.
- Vinegar is a cheaper alternative to many popular cleaning supplies. Not only does it kill the bacteria, but also it is also non-toxic, and environmentally friendly.
- Plant a herb/fruit/vegetable garden. Not only does this cut down on food costs, but also it doubles as a learning exercise for daycare students. You could even start a community garden and generate a source of income from that!
- Do NOT cut out marketing, though you may want to talk with your agency about where you get the most bang for your buck.
Of course, when we are not in a recession, and your daycare is booming, it is understandable to establish strict rules and guidelines for how you run your business. However, when business is in jeopardy, it is important to offer a bit more flexibility to bring customers back in and keep them coming back. Give families more freedom in making schedule requests, and be more open and accommodating to those requests.
Teach people about the importance of daycare and early childhood education before the recession hits. Then, when they are cutting their own expenses, they will already have the information they need to know that your daycare is still an essential expense that cannot afford to be cut from their daily spending.
Establishing connections within your community is important because this can lead to business partnerships. Together, you can help each other through hard times. PaperPinecone.com suggests creating “a scholarship fund that local businesses can contribute to in exchange for you sending customers their way. When times are hard,” they say, “you’ll have a tuition pool to pull from and you’ll be able to attract families by offering lower costs.” This is just one example of a mutualistic relationship, which might just save your daycare in the next recession.
A recession is coming, and everyone is throwing around scary words and phrases like crisis and economic downfall. Everyone is terrified of the uncertainty. You should not be afraid. You should not feel uncertain. If you follow these steps and keep investing in your business today, tomorrow is sure to be a success.
For help with your marketing and keeping a steady stream of new customers coming your way, talk to the experts at Local Childcare Marketing. Advertising and marketing for child care is our specialty.