The numbers are in. There are currently about 75,000 early childhood centers in the U.S. alone. These numbers are only expected to rise. With increased demands for working parents, there’s never been a more profitable time to enter the child care industry.
But, you don’t care about the profits or the numbers. The only thing you truly care about is what every early childhood center should care about– the safety, well being, and health of your enrollees.
Like any business venture, there’s no guarantee of success. Increasing enrollment can seem like an uphill battle but enrollment is just one of the many challenges that you may face. There may be challenges that are both short term and long term, unexpected challenges, and critical challenges that put more than just your business at stake. If you’re new to the child care industry, here are a few pointers to help ensure success for your center.
Research The Market
How far ahead have you planned? Begin by reviewing your local market. Have you researched the population of families that are located in the neighborhood? Nearby schools? Changing demographics? Frequently, early childhood centers fail to sustain business due to sudden decreases in appropriately aged little ones as children grow older. Neighborhoods change and subsequently, so do local markets. And while neighborhoods with a consistent influx of new families will increase your likelihood of success, it can also mean an increase in competitors.
Check Out Your Competition
What do their reviews say? What are their success rates? Do they succeed solely due to location? Are they offering unique amenities? Sometimes, you’ll find that the longest running early childhood centers are successful because they offer individualized services to families. Remember, each family will have their own specific needs and demands. It’s up to you to provide your clients with the same level of services as your competitors. And, if you want to grow your center, you’ll have to personally connect with each family.
Ensure All Certification And Training Is Up To Date
We can’t stress this enough! Qualifications and standards for early childcare centers are constantly changing. Ensuring both you and your staff are up to date with new developments isn’t just a professional courtesy, it’s mandatory. Make a habit of providing additional educational training each year for all staff members. It may seem redundant, but it can save you a lot of hassle in the long run.
Safety doesn’t just mean making certain that your center meets all safety regulations required by your county or town. It also means looking out for small hazards that can cause big problems down the road. How well are your grounds kept? During summer months when kids are prone to playing outdoors, hidden debris on your lawn can cause both splinters and other safety hazards. Are your toys age appropriate? Remember that toddlers can be prone to choking on small parts. Safety is a parent’s top priority when choosing a center. Make it your priority as well!
Automate Your Operations
Between managing enrollments, meeting with families, hiring new staff, and looking after the students, you’re going to have your hands full. And, keeping track of your day to day logistics on a spreadsheet simply isn’t sufficient. Lucky for you, there are multiple childcare-specific software applications and services which can do anything from automating emails to managing and updating your directory citations. Not only will these applications save you countless hours of time, but they can give you a clear understanding of both your strengths and areas of improvement.
Interact With Parents
Ensuring the parents’ well being may be a much lower priority than that of their children, but that’s no reason why you can’t ask about their lives from time to time. In fact, they’ll be glad that you did! Remembering birthdays, congratulating job promotions, and even asking about relatively minor events in a parent’s life may seem small. But, they go a long way in establishing a personal connection with your customers. You’ll find that this personal connection can help to generate testimonials and can increase word of mouth marketing.
Flexibility doesn’t just mean offering earlier and later drop-offs. With increased attention on things like food allergies, personal and religious dietary restrictions, and even snack options, parents are more likely to choose a center that appeals to their needs. One recommendation is having flexible payment options. Do you offer a sliding scale for qualified families? What about a choice of weekly, monthly, or quarterly payments? Be as accommodating as you can to each family in every aspect of your operations. If you don’t, your competitors will.
Optimize Your Marketing Campaign
Use a combination of traditional print marketing, promotional materials, and digital marketing tools. Make certain that you have plenty of attractive brochures and literature on hand at open houses. But, don’t neglect the power of your online presence either. Be proactive with the utilization of social media campaigns. Localize your marketing. Don’t rely on a “one size fits all” template. It will be in your best interest to improve your neighborhood presence. This is what separates you from commercial providers. Local service. Local value. And local care for local children.
Success for your child care business demands the right marketing in the right neighborhood for the right children. Visit Local Child Care Marketing or call (855) 215-3838 for more information.