Child care is a lucrative industry to be in. The combined public-private spending on child care and education programs is projected to be around $76 billion, with government spending $34 billion and parents at $42 billion. According to the US Census, there are around 7 million American households that require child care, and this number is expected to grow exponentially in the coming years.
At present, there are around 836,053 child care operators in the US. By 2021, an additional 20,000 operators are projected to enter the market. Job growth in the childcare sector is also expected to grow by 7% over the next decade. Indeed, the early childhood care and education is a booming industry.
If you’re an educator, a retired teacher, or simply have the passion of caring for kids, you might want to consider starting your own childcare center. It can either be a simple home gig or a full-pledged facility.
A consultant from a childcare management software company emphasized that like other any business, passion isn’t always enough. You need hard facts and due diligence to manage effectively and ensure long-term profitability of your childcare center. There are a lot of other considerations such as legal, financial, health, and educational aspects that you need to manage.
8 Success Tips for Daycare Center Operators
That said, if you’re really passionate about kids, learning these things should be pretty simple for you. Here are some helpful insights to help you get started and run your own childcare center.
1. Know more about childcare
This is a crucial step towards running your own daycare center. Earning a degree in early childhood education is highly recommended. There are both school-based and online course providers where you can enroll in.
By enrolling in a formal course, you can gain knowledge and experience from experts. This can guide you as you develop and run the program, as well as, make crucial decisions. It should also give you advantage over other competitors. Having both passion and knowledge can definitely help you down the road.
Learning about childcare is a continuous process. Enrich your textbook knowledge by visiting or immersing in other daycare centers to see how they run their facility.
2. Get licensed
Licensing your childcare center is important to ensure that you comply with all the legal requirements of the business. It keeps you protected legally and gives you access to various financial programs and aid.
Each state has its regulations and requirements for child care providers. Check with your local childcare licensing agency to learn more about them. Preparing all documents can be time consuming. It helps to plan ahead.
3. Set financial goals
As with any business, financials are vital. Running a daycare business entails numerous costs. Initial expenses include room improvements, provisions, lease, licensing fees, and taxes, among others. Meanwhile, some operational expenses to keep an eye on include meals, supplies, and payroll.
It is important to outline how and where to source funding for both the capital and operating expenditures. Aside from payments from parents, there are several federal and state grants that can be availed to compensate your expenses. Check if your center or the kids under your care are eligible for these grants.
You should also know how to effectively bill and collect payment. Understanding financial aspects of the business early on can help ensure its long-term success. If you are clueless about taxes, it is best to work with a tax specialist or an accountant.
Running a child care center involves a lot of administrative and clerical tasks, such as invoicing and billing, enrollment, documentation and reporting, and payroll. Be familiar with all of these business processes and be ready to juggle through them. Many daycare providers use IT solutions to help automate these tasks. This allows you to focus on core functions.
4. Know your market and competition
As a childcare center operator, you need to study and understand your market and your competitors. This is crucial if you want to grow your enrollees. Do a little research to and identify your competitors. Know their strengths and weaknesses, and distinguish yourself from the competition. Provide services that they are not yet offering. For example, you can offer kosher, organic or vegan menu; or free pickup from and to the daycare; or unusual hours service.
You also need to device marketing campaigns like opening social media sites or website, sending out flyers, hanging banners, and advertising in local TV or radio station. You can offer promos such as free tuition. Quite obviously, parents would be apprehensive enrolling their kids in a new daycare center. By offering free services for a month, you can generate happy parents. You can then ask for their referrals. Typically, word-of-mouth marketing is the best way to attract new enrollees. Sacrificing initial upfront profit can help a lot in making your childcare center more lucrative.
Many daycare center owners overlook this part of the business and end up with few enrollees. Always remember that the number of kids in your center is vital to its sustainability.
5. Know the paperwork
Aside from the actual child care, running a child care center entails various clerical tasks. There is a tremendous amount of paperwork that you need to accomplish on set schedule. For example, forms that need to be filled up daily such as daily report form, sign-in/sign-out sheet, accident/injury report.
There are also reports accomplished occasionally like kitchen checklist, observation report, enrollment form, and contract. There are several online resources where you can find these forms. They also give instructions on how and when these forms are necessary.
All of these documents are necessary to ensure compliance with state and federal regulations, and operate legally. The good news is that many daycare software systems already incorporate these forms. Hence, you can accomplish them with ease.
Starting a childcare center can be daunting. There’s no single roadmap to success, but following these tips can help you get off in the right direction. Above anything else, you need constantly remind yourself why you’re doing it. This should keep you motivated and focused on your goal.