Maybe you’re a licensed CDA with over twenty years of experience in the childcare industry. Maybe you’re a mother of four who’s pursuing her license for the first time and you’ve finally decided to start your own childcare business. You’re excited, curious, and hopeful.And, probably a little terrified as well.
We’re not going to lie. Operating a childcare business isn’t the same as operating other companies. There’s a lot to consider and there’s a heavy sense of responsibility that you won’t find in other industries. Namely, the children that you oversee.
Believe it or not, getting started is nowhere near as confusing as it may seem. Yes, in order to start a childcare business you’ll need a business plan, similar to other businesses. And yes, you’ll need to think of all aspects of your organization; including certification, training, and marketing. No one ever said that this would be easy. But, if you’re looking to start and develop a fulfilling childcare business, here’s what you’ll need to know.
1. Review Child Care Licensing Regulations In Your State
Unfortunately, there’s no federal body that regulates child care licenses. Each state will have their own requirements. While some states will allow unlicensed centers to operate on a limited basis (such as family child care homes or programs with a religious affiliation), licensing should be your first priority in starting your child care business. Most parents will insist on seeing a copy of your certification. You can find out more about your state’s specific requirements through the National Database of Child Care Licensing Regulations.
2. Research Your Locations
It’s not only licensing regulations that you should be familiar with. City business permits and zoning laws may also impact your decision on where to operate. Outside of municipal laws, also consider the neighborhood practically. Research your proposed locations’ proximity to nearby schools. Review the demographics. If the area you’re considering is a neighborhood with a high population of retirees and pre-retirees, you may want to reconsider your choice. If the area has a high population of new families but also a high concentration of established daycare centers, you may find yourself struggling to differentiate yourself from your competitors.
3. Develop A Business Plan
Developing your business plan is going to be one of the most grueling processes. But, a business plan isn’t just a formality. It helps to clarify your vision as a child care provider. Typically, it will contain:
- A mission statement
- Organizational plans
- Operational plans
- Marketing plans
- Plans for expansion (if any)
Your business plan will be one of the more creative parts of owning your business. How do you envision your center five years from now? How many children can it accommodate? How do you define success If you were to retire, would your business cease operations altogether? Don’t be afraid to do some heavy thinking about your business. Don’t be afraid to do your research. And, don’t be afraid to ask for help!
4. Gather Your Paperwork
Take time to properly put your paperwork together. Include both registration filings, incorporation articles (if applicable), liability, property, and business insurance, and most importantly, child care forms, procedures, and handbooks for new enrollees. Child care services present the potential for tremendous liabilities that could affect both your business and your reputation. Make certain that everything is properly signed and in order before you open for business.
5. Appropriately Recruit And Train Staff
Background checks are a necessity in this day and age—even if you’re simply hiring administrative help. No matter how great a candidate may seem on paper, ensure that their licensing is up to date and that there’s no evidence of any prior criminal convictions of any sort. Having the right staff can be an anchor for your business, but they need to be properly trained on operational and safety protocols. Is there a disaster plan prepared? Are your staff members properly trained to handle emergencies? It’s not just your business that’s at stake, it’s the safety of your students.
6. Automate Your Operations With Management Software
You’ve got a juggling act to perform when operating a child care business. You’ll be fielding questions from parents, reviewing new hires, and above all, looking after your students. You need something that can make your job much easier. Management software can virtually complete any administrative task from billing to social media updates. There are currently some great solutions on the market that are specifically designed for child care services. Your business doesn’t end at the end of the day. Make your life easier by automating tasks whenever you can.
7. Develop A Full Scale Marketing Strategy
Considering marketing strategies can be distressing for any business owner. They can prove to be particularly confusing for a child care business owner since many operators don’t even know where to start. Child care marketing should be both physical and virtual. Hosting open house events, partnering with local businesses, and above all, getting referrals are a great way to network and to get to know your community better. But, in 2019, you can’t ignore both the convenience and impact of digital marketing tools that are fully at your disposal. You might find that you can achieve better results with an attractive and up to date website and a regular Facebook posting than you would with any glossy brochure.
If it seems like you’ll have a lot on your plate when opening up your child care business, it’s because you will. But, your reward will be priceless. Because, it’s one that you can’t put a price on. A child’s smile.
Need more tips on how to start, manage, and market your child care business? Make your life easier and go with a seasoned agency. Visit us today at Local Child Care Marketing or call (855) 215-3838 for more information.