3 Areas to Focus on When Growing Your Child Care Business
As a child care director or owner you may feel overwhelmed at times. Often you are pulled in many different directions, leading to a lack of clarity and focus in your work. There’s simply not enough time in a day to do all the things you would like to do.
When I was a director I often found it hard to determine where my focus should be and where I should spend my time and resources. I would question what priorities would add the most value to my center and where my limited time could best be spent on a daily basis.
As leaders in the child care business, being strategic about how we spend our time is essential to success. It is so easy to let time lead us where it will. If we aren’t intentional about our time, it will be used up in everyday tasks, preventing the ability to grow our center(s) or reach other business or personal goals. There is a popular maxim attributed to Bill Gates which reads, “people tend to overestimate what they can do in the short term, and underestimate what they can do in the long term”.
Evidence shows that people who manage their time effectively are able to reach seemingly unreachable goals by managing their time, maintaining their focus, and chipping away at their goal bit by bit. In order to succeed in this way, however, you first need to choose an intentional area (or areas) of focus.
Today I want to talk about three areas that require intentional focus as a child care leader. It is these three areas that will set you apart from the rest and set you up for success whatever your goals might be. Don’t just dabble in these areas though, you are much more likely to succeed if you schedule small amounts of time every week to deal with them and stick with it for the long-term!
Centers that are growing are intentional about their focus on growth and enrollment. What this means is you are carving out time each day to connect with potential families, tour them around your facility and follow up with them.
What I have seen more often than not is that centers connect with families and carry out tours but forget to follow up. Add a list of follow-ups as an item on your weekly calendar or use software to connect and engage with parents. Call every person who has been interested in your center in the last two months but hasn’t signed up yet. You’d be surprised at how much enrollment you can gain by simply following up - we all need a reminder sometimes!
Always remember that your staff are the beating heart of your center. They are the hands and feet that provide the safety, care, and education that clients are looking for. Show your appreciation for their hard work by spending some time each day or week recognizing your team. Specific and positive feedback can work wonders for staff morale and costs absolutely nothing. When a kind word or note doesn’t seem like enough, something I have done in the past is walk around with $5 coffee cards in my pocket and hand them out to staff members who were going above and beyond. This is another great way to not only acknowledge their hard work but also encourage them to keep it up.
On top of recognition I also recommend getting to know each staff member individually. This could mean popping your head in the classroom for a few minutes to say hi, asking what they need from time to time, or just taking time to chat occasionally. The more you know your staff, the better you can support them. Having a personal relationship with each staff member will also help decrease turnover and increase overall staff satisfaction. Less time hiring means more qualified staff and more time for you to grow your center!
Whether you intend to grow your child care center in size, reputation, or both, you can’t lose sight of your current customers. There is something magical that happens when you know each family in your center on a personal level. Their trust in your work increases as you create a bond that goes beyond a business transaction. This not only puts parents at ease, it leads to better and more frequent referrals, while increasing job satisfaction for you and your staff.
One way to do this is to schedule at least 5-10 minutes around drop off or pick up to make yourself available to the families in your center. This is a great time for small talk and simple relationship building. When these relationships are strong it also makes it easier to deal with any issues that may arise. Because you’ve built a relationship, parents will be more likely to approach you early with any issues and allow you to deal with it more effectively, without confrontation.
Remember: a small amount of time invested each day in the short-term will lead to a huge return on investment in the long-term! Making SMART goals and setting time aside for each of the three points discussed above will allow you to grow your center and develop your effectiveness as a leader. Developing good leadership habits by planning ahead to intentionally address enrollment, staff, and family priorities will enable on-going personal, staff, and client growth, ensuring that your center(s) reach their full potential!