,Are you considering opening your own in home childcare business? Maybe you are only watching a few children right now and haven't committed to offering full time care-either way there are several things to consider before you open your childcare business.
1. Is there a demand? Before you consider starting a childcare business you should assess the need for childcare in your area. Have you scoped out your city for competitors? Are they full? One thing to consider before starting a childcare business is whether or not there is even a market for childcare in your area. You may be in area where childcare is provided by a major employer in the area, or there are several stay at home moms. It doesn't mean it's not possible to have a lucrative childcare business-it just means you may need to be more creative with the type of care you offer to meet the demands in your area. Consider creating a questionnaire, polling your local community groups, and discussing it with families in the area.
2. Have you looked into what it takes to get licensed? There are many rules to follow when you become a licensed provider (and rightfully so), but this does mean you may need to make physical changes to your home, changes to your families routine-and even changes on who might be allowed to visit your home during your business hours.
3. Have you estimated your start up costs, and expenses? Although there are many deductions in childcare, there are also several re-occurring, and upfront costs associated with operating a childcare program. When you are first getting started it may take a while before you attract customers and have an operating budget-let alone re-coup your start up costs. Some start up costs to consider are renovations, toys & equipment, office supplies, insurance, licensing and advertising. There are also a variety of items that you will need to anticipate replacing each month such as cleaning supplies, art supplies, diapers, and wipes (if you provide them).
4. Is your family on board? Consider the hours and days you will open. Is your whole family on board? Many providers start a business with their young children in mind, not taking into consideration the long hours you will be committed to caring for other children. This may leave your own children with a feeling of jealousy. Does your spouse want to come home to peace and quiet after work? Having an in-home childcare means you will have little privacy, and constantly have company in and out of your home.
5. How well do you communicate with adults? As a childcare provider you are not only caring for children-you are also forging relationships with their parents. You are working together as a team and need to communicate your needs effectively and professionally. This can be a challenge, especially if you allow clients to overstep boundaries.
Advice from other providers
Here is some advice from childcare providers in our Facebook Community on what they wish they would have known before opening their doors...
It can be a struggle to find new clients. It may seem like you've exhausted all resources trying to find new families. Marketing your business can feel overwhelming..
When you advertise your business you are communicating what type of service you are offering. Include what makes you unique! Do you have a unique philosophy, do you offer activities others in your area don't? Be sure to include them. Provide clear information (Exact number of openings, ages you will accept, etc). Be sure to include:The Name of your business, Your location, and your Contact information (Phone, Email, etc).
Often times parents want to do a little research on your program before contacting you, so be sure to include links to any Websites/Your FB page for your business when posting.
Word of mouth
Many people prefer to have a referral from a friend or family member when they are seeking a childcare provider. Start with friends, family and existing clients. Get the word out that you have openings. Don't forget to let your neighbors know, and other people you are close with in your community.
Local Community Resources
Think about where you go to find out what's happening locally in your community:
*Check with local schools to see if they have a list they provide a list to parents
*Place an Ad in the local paper
*Check out local community groups on Facebook that you can post your openings in. Try local Mom's Groups, Buy/Sell Groups etc.
*Post a pull-tab flyer on Community Bulletin boards (Coffee Shops, Grocery Stores, Churches, Clinics, etc.)
*Check Facebook groups for County/State Wide Childcare Listing groups to post your openings in
*Make sure you are listed with your local resource and referral group.
Outside the box
There are a lot of clever ways to get your name out in the community, and you should do these things even if you don't have openings.
*Get a Magnetic Car Sign
*Create Shirts for your Business for yourself, and for the kids to wear during field trips
*Be a sponsor at local events. Make donations in the name of your business
*Create goody bags at Halloween and insert your Business Card
*Donate books or toys with a sticker on them giving your business information (Waiting offices, etc).
Advice from fellow Providers
"Word of mouth is always best, but not always possible, especially if you're newer or moved into a new area. I've had great luck with local Facebook boards-buy/sell boards, childcare boards, community boards, etc. Craigslist? Yeah, it works but you have to be VERY careful. I currently have one little from Craigslist and she's been with me 2 1/2 years. Hers was the ideal situation. There are a lot of flakes out there though." - Cathy M
"References!"- Michelle C.
"Being a member of our local early childhood chapter is helpful. Facebook sites, Parent References Childcare Peers Referrals As well." -Angela B.
I have always used Facebook groups to advertise my Facebook page. Resale page, mkm group, and so on. Where of course I have all my families leave a review.
"Carnivals, festivals and fairs. Set up a table, hand out some goodies with your name on it. Participate in local parades with your children. Trunk or treats. Any events where parents are with their children." Rocelia P.
"I use a Facebook page to advertise as well as hang fliers in local businesses for their own employees! Bc if they have kids and have a job they prob need care! I also carry business cards with me because it is amazing when you are out buying stuff for daycare and someone asks you about it and you tell them daycare then you can hand them a card with you page and whatever else." -Zchodae W.
"My best advice would be to use a dedicated website for your child care marketing just like other businesses do. It's professional looking, you can include things like a blog, messages from previous customers recommendations,and an overview of your program. I give potential interviewers my website address so they can follow the blog for several days before interview. By the time they arrive for the interview they are drawn in by what they have seen. It is the best marketing tool I have found and my web hosting site that I use is free". -Julie K.
"My advice is Craigslist, our local Child Care Association, references are great. My Facebook page and other local Facebook pages. Passing out cards, fliers, staying current with our resources and referral. Sign in.my yard." -Adrianna D.
"Ask your parents for referrals." - Jolene P.
With any job, balance can be difficult to achieve. It can be especially challenging as a childcare provider who's hours begin well before their first client arrives, and end well before their last client leaves.
Here are some super tips from the Childcare Providers in our Facebook Community on how to balance a childcare business and family:
"My advice would be to always include your family. Daycare isn't always an easy job but if the family pitches in it becomes a team effort and your family members will take pride in the business. I'd also say know your limits, don't be afraid to say no sometimes and utilize your time during the day so that your off hours can be spent with your family. I've found over the years that when I have strong bonds with my daycare families that are built on respect they are eager to help me when I need time off for my family or myself and it really becomes one big family!" Christina N.
"I hear from a lot of providers that are afraid to take time off for vacation, when they are sick, or personal days. They are either afraid that the parents will get mad or that they cannot afford to take the time off. My suggestion is to do what you can to make it work. The parents are typically understanding if they know what to expect. Have it laid out well in advance for them. I print a "school calendar" and laminate it for each family. I also send a reminder in our newsletter about a month in advance of any time I take off. Vacations and time off should be somewhat evenly spread out, also consider the times your children or husband will most be able to spend with you. One of my vacations is taken during winter break so I can spend time with my school-age kiddo. As for the financial side; I understand that every provider has a unique situation and it might not be easy to take the time off unpaid, but there are options! You could work towards having your vacations paid, many providers do this. Or raise your rates to cover the time off. Do fundraisers to cover the costs of materials, or ask for material donations! Find ways to cut expenses so you can afford the time off. I know it isn't easy, but I think taking time off is an essential part of balancing family and work. Involve your family in ways that are meaningful for them. My middle child loves to help me with my meal prep on the weekends, and with prepping breakfast each morning. Sure it takes twice as long, but he learns a lot and we get to spend that quality time together. My oldest son enjoys playing with the kids when he has time after school, to that end I pay him to "work" for me after school. At the same time I get to see him and hear about his day. My husband is a big fan of reading with children, I invite him in to read to the kids when he has the extra time." - Sheena W.
My biggest struggle daily is remembering when I'm working I have to be the provider when I'm not I can be mom. Provider is structured, scheduled, and strict. Mom is more laid back, not really having a plan for the day, less demanding. I can't be full time mom when I'm working because full time mom wants to protect my own children all the time, but I have to make sure all the children are treated the same and no one feels less then another. It's a struggle and I often feel bad for my own children that's why on weekends and nights I don't ask for chores to be done or even if they don't want to get dressed I don't care. Hahaha" -Meagan P.
"Have an agreed on closing time and stick to it so that you have time for your husband and kids to be with just you" -Vanessa S.
"Providers NEED to take time off. A few days a year just for them---that break is so important to lasting long in this business. Parents take several days off during a year, so they shouldn't be against YOU doing the same.--Plenty of notice given. Do not mistake closing the day care because of illness or other emergencies as personal days off. These are days to regroup, get away from and have that break."-Sherry W.
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