The 7 Biggest Mistakes Most New Daycare Owners Make – And How to Avoid Them!
What does it take to succeed in child care?
Obviously, you must have a deep and passionate desire to care for children, a lot of patience and the ability to juggle several tasks at once (such as heating a bottle while helping young children with a project of art).
It also helps if you have a separate space in your home, such as a finished basement, where you can manage your child care business.
But as if that is not enough, there are many things in which a successful owner of a daycare at home needs to be good as well as taking care of the children. Honestly, it can be quite discouraging.
Things like parents pay them on time, write strong policies and contracts, promote your business to new potential customers, get the right insurance policy, understand record keeping and how it affects your taxes and, in general, just Start in a way that optimizes success.
To help you get started more successfully, here are seven of the biggest and most costly mistakes women make when starting their own home care business, and how to avoid them.
GREAT MISTAKE # 1: Do not do the proper research in the child care market in your town or city.
This is a crucial step that many new child care business owners miss, usually because they are not sure how to do it. Or they may think that it is not really necessary to do the research, because they do not understand how it could affect them.
After all, it's just a small business from home, right? Why do you need to do all that extra work in advance?
The objective here is not to spend weeks or months completing a large market research project that you will never use.
I'm talking about spending a few hours in the next few days, calling (or maybe visiting some other child care businesses) and asking key questions.
Let me give you an example of what I'm talking about. My neighbor Mary, who runs a child care business in her home, discovered a couple of things about our local market that helped her create a more profitable business. The first thing was that our city has a ½ day kindergarten, not all day. When speaking with other mothers in our city, Mary discovered that in our city there was a need for "before and after care", that is, someone who could see kindergarten children and older children before and after school. She structured her daycare to fill this need. All she had to do was make sure the buses could pick up and drop off these children at home, and she could start having children.
So, what do you want to discover when you do your initial research? It is a "pocket of unmet need" in terms of child care. It is not necessary that it be a large pocket, but something unique about your business that will give you customers who need it.
Other examples of this are:
– offers shift care for second or third shift if you have large companies in your city that employ people on night or night shifts
– offers bilingual attention or special languages, such as sign language for babies
– offers special foods (such as organic or vegetarian) if you live in a town where that would be considered desirable (such as Boulder, Colorado or a similar college town)
Again, you are asking key questions and trying to discover a need not fulfilled in your city or town. You can start by calling your local child care resource and referral agency (CCR & R), local elementary schools, talking with neighbors and friends, and visiting other child care businesses in your city. You can even call other child care companies at home and talk to these women about what they are seeing in the market. In general, women in child care help each other by forming friendships and associations, so do not be intimidated.
By taking the time to research, you will gain a great advantage by understanding your market and how you can be successful within that market.
GREAT MISTAKE # 2: Do not get adequate liability protection for you and your business.
If you want to be able to sleep peacefully at night and not worry about being sued, you will need to be adequately covered. You need the real scoop on what kind of insurance to buy and how much it should cost so that you do not overpay.
Many new child care business owners make the mistake of thinking that their owner's policy is enough to cover them if there is a problem. But the truth is that that policy does not generally provide enough protection or the kind of protection it needs to Special situations that a daycare owner may face.
An example of this situation would be if your house had a power cut and had to shut down temporarily due to the loss of electricity. If you had a business liability policy with coverage for "interruption of commercial income," you would be covered by your policy and still get that income.
Similarly, if a parent sued you for some situation, your policy will cover you in most cases.
Surprisingly, a corporate responsibility policy for a daycare at home is not that expensive, and well worth the investment (in my opinion). This type of policy usually costs between $ 30 and $ 40 per month. Is it worth a good night's sleep?
GREAT ERROR # 3: You are not charging the correct rates.
Do you know how to find out what other houses and child care centers charge? Most new daycare owners literally leave money at the table by not setting their rates properly. You will be short if you charge very little, and if you charge too much, you will not get clients!
So, how do you think about what to charge? This is a process similar to that of the initial investigation in your city … it is simply a matter of making some phone calls or visits to other child care companies and setting prices appropriately.
Many new owners of family day care centers charge the same weekly rate for each child, regardless of the age of the child. However, if you talk to the centers in your city, most of them charge the highest rate for babies and the lowest rate for older children (pre-kinder and older). Many parents are used to this type of price structure.
Therefore, depending on the age of the children you can accept, if you charge a little more for infants and young children, your income may be a bit higher than a fixed price for all ages. You should consider your individual situation and choose what is best for you.
For example, suppose that, according to your state and the ages of your own children, you can accept 1 baby and 3 small children (15-24 months) and 2 older small children (3-4 years). If you charge $ 120 per week as a flat rate, you would have a weekly income of $ 720.
If, however, you charged a little more for babies ($ 135 per week) and small children ($ 125 per week) and less for Larger children ($ 115 / week), your weekly income with this scenario would be $ 740. That equals an additional $ 80 per month, or $ 1,040 additional per year.
Small adjustments like these in your price, if it makes sense according to your local area, can make a difference in the profits you take home at the end of the day.
GREAT ERROR # 4: Not covered with a proper child care policy and contract.
Well, this is really great. You need to have a well-written contract for your parents, and you need a comprehensive policy manual. If you use your contract and policy manual correctly, you can literally save thousands of dollars in lost revenue (and countless hours of headaches!).
What is the difference between a contract and a policy?
A contract is a binding legal agreement between two people. If you agree to care for a child and the child's parents agree to pay for that care, you made a verbal contract. If you put the contract in writing, it becomes a written contract.
There are 5 key elements of a child care contract: the names of the parties, the hours of service, the termination procedure (ie how either party can terminate the contract), the payment terms (including fees, expiration dates and additional charges) and signatures of the parties. Be specific and clear with your wording.
A policy manual is longer and more detailed than a contract. It should contain all the rules that state how you will care for children, how you will handle specific types of situations and how you run your business. For example, you should include your vacation and sick days policies, how you handle behavior problems and discipline, and how children will be fed.
It is a good idea to request a signature page at the end of your policy manual, where the parent agrees that he has read the entire manual and agrees to comply with the policies he has established.
You need to have both documents in writing. (If you need real examples that you can copy and edit to fit your business, they are provided in my Nursery Success System … more on that later).
GREAT ERROR # 5: Do not use the best ways to market your business to future clients.
Let's face it, you may not be a marketing and advertising genius, but you need easy, inexpensive ways to spread the word and attract new customers.
We have all heard that the best publicity is by word of mouth. That is after you have started and your clients recommend it to their friends and neighbors.
But what happens when you open the doors for the first time and do not have a proven track record?
Fortunately, there are many ways you can get the word out about your new child care business, and most of them will not cost you much money. Here are 4 marketing ideas to start.
Marketing suggestion n. ° 1: Register at the Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR & R) office in your area.
This is the first thing you should do to get your name, and it should be done before you open your doors. The website is located at: www.childcareaware.org
Then enter your zip code in the search field and you will receive contact information from the nearest CCR & R office. You can also call them toll-free at (800) 424-2246.
As of December 2007, to register with most CCR & Rs, you do not need to have a state license or be certified. However, they may have special requirements to be included in the list, depending on their status.
For example, in Ohio, they require that child care providers only have a maximum of 6 children at any time, and no more than 3 children under 2 years of age. If there is more than one caregiver in the home / facility, the numbers may be higher. These rules vary by state, so be sure to call your local CCR & R branch to confirm their rules.
Once you register with your CCR & R, they will provide your contact information, along with any special information related to your daycare, to parents seeking childcare … for free!
Marketing suggestion n. ° 2: Communicate with all elementary schools on your bus line and / or in your community.
Most schools maintain a list of child care providers, which they provide to parents upon request. Ask that your name and phone number be added to your provider list.
Marketing Council n. ° 3: Communicate verbally with everyone you know.
Tell everyone that you know you are providing child care and ask them if they know someone who is looking for child care in their area. Make an announcement in your church and in all the other groups to which you belong. If you do not belong to any group in the community, join some! Now you are an entrepreneur, it's time to start networking!
This may be the most important source for enrolling children in day care centers. Most parents prefer to leave their children with a recommended provider by a friend, neighbor, co-worker or family member.
Marketing suggestion n. ° 4: Post announcements or small announcements in community newsletters.
Ask all organizations that you know and / or to which you belong, such as a Church, a Play Group or a Community Group, if you can make an announcement in your Newsletter.
If you know a community group, church or business professional that sends a newsletter, ask them to advertise their business to local residents in their database. In your advertising, focus on the unique characteristics of your business and the benefits that children and parents will receive from your registration.
Remember, this is just the tip of the iceberg. When you learn these easy and inexpensive methods (or free) to bring new contacts, you will have a complete and profitable kindergarten and will establish an ongoing relationship with your parents-clients that will make them enthusiastic with you to your friends and family!
Now let's go back to the 7 biggest mistakes and how you can avoid them.
GREAT ERROR # 6: Do not use the tons of free resources in your local area, including the money sources of the grant.  Many new daycare or preschool owners do not know the local resources available to them and how to navigate the waters of state, regional and local government agencies.
With so many organizations and websites, it can be really hard to know where to go and who to ask, if you do not know where to start.
The best place to start is with your state. All the states of the USA UU They have an agency within their state government that sets the rules for family child care providers. This agency is usually called something like the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), or the Department of Employment and Family Services (DJFS) and they all have websites.
(If you are in Canada or another country, you probably have a similar office in your government).
Simply go to your state's website (such as http://www.Illinois.gov ) and search for the appropriate department, or type "child care" in the search box.
The website should contain the telephone numbers of the Child Care contact person in your state. Call them by phone and find out about the rules of their state and what they recommend for people who are just beginning to care for their children.
Most counties also have a child care office that helps people at the county level. Ask your state's contact person how to find help for your specific county. Then, contact your county representative and ask the following questions (these are also good questions to ask your state representative):
: What do you need to know about specific rules or regulations for your county?
– What training should you take before opening your doors?
– What type of training / continuous learning is required?
– Do you have any recommendations about insurance providers for child care owners in your county?
– What resources do you have to help you get started?
– Do you know of any source of subsidies or low interest initial loans?
– Are there local or county support groups that come together to talk about child care issues?
There may also be other questions that you think about. Do not be intimidated. You have the right to get the best information to start, and you must start yourself as well as possible and with the best possible knowledge.
GREAT MISTAKE # 7: Do not obtain the license or certification of your state.
Obtaining a license or certification with your state can be a bit difficult, but it's probably easier than you think. Generally, a certain amount of training is required to obtain a license (often very low cost or even free) and your home will be inspected once or twice a year by a state inspector to ensure that guidelines are followed.  There are many reasons why you should consider it … the main reason is that you can charge higher fees!
These are some of the other benefits you will get when you obtain a license or certification with your state:
– You will be proud to know that it provides the best quality of care (and you can communicate this to others).
– Potential parents will be more likely to choose him, so he will not have to spend so much on marketing and advertising
– Schools and other businesses are more likely to recommend you.
– You may be eligible to receive subsidies or low interest loans to expand your daycare or improve it with a new outdoor play area, etc.
– Will stand out from the crowd as a superior business.
You will have the greatest chance of success if you strive to be the best at what you do.