Why Some Child Care Providers Thrive? And others struggle
Why do some providers in the same area
seem to stay full while others seem to always have openings or can't keep clients?
There could be a variety of reasons why one provider has a thriving child care
business and another one struggles.
does your area have a high or low need for family child cares? Or is your area overly populated with other child cares
and centers. Too much competition in the area can reduce your chances of finding new clients. Or you can live in a community
that has little need for child care. Location is everything. I suggest to anyone wanting to open a child care business in
their neighborhood to do some marketing research first and see if there is a need in that area? Or see if the area is saturated
with providers and centers. If you live in a small community with little population this can be a downfall too. There are many things to consider.
What are the average fees in your
immediate area? Are they to high? Or to low? Although
we wish parents would consider the quality of the program over the fee it is a proven fact that fees are the number one factor
in a parent’s decision. If your fees are higher then everyone one else around you the parent will find quality care
with a reasonable rate to go with it. Providers need to do a market analysis of their area and charge a comparable fee or
the going market rate. Not be the cheapest but certainly not the highest either.
Parents are just as skeptical of low end rates as they are on high end rates.
If your new with no prior experience
some parents are less comfortable with new providers. And for good reason. A lot of providers go into this business for whatever
reason and soon quit this business for whatever reason. Parents do not want to worry about the security or continuity of
their child's care. Moving children from provider to provider is detrimental on the child's social emotional stability.
Parents will check out a neighborhood
as much as they will a provider. Location is another key issue. If the provider lives in a neighborhood with
a bad reputation the parents will not go there. Even if they live there themselves they will often prefer child cares outside
the area with high crime rates and trouble spots.
If you are located in a neighborhood
that takes a hired guide to find you then parents will find someone that is easier to find. All those turn, and loops off
the main street areas can be confusing and time consuming to get to. Parents want easy access so they can get there, and out
again in a timely matter.
If you live to far away from everyone,
or to far from freeways and main streets parents will find someone more convenient to save time and driving. You can have
the best child care in the world but if it takes too long or they have to go too far to get there the parents will have second
thoughts. Again we would like to think that parents pick quality over convenience but with the traffic and schedules these
parents keep they want less stress, less driving, and closer to home or work. This will be the priority.
How is your reputation? Do you have
complaints or citations on your licensing record? Parents are becoming more savvy about checking out a provides licensing
record. Parents can be understanding about some indiscretions but if the provider is not honest with them right away it will
influence the parents decision if they call licensing and find out there are prior issues and you did not mention them first
to the parent.
Work hard to keep your licensing
record in good standing. Everyone has certain regulations to abide by no matter what state they are in. There is no excuse
as far as licensing is concerned not to follow the regulations and maintain your family child care according to your states regulations.
Unfortunately things can happen that is beyond your control but it's the things within your control that you must maintain.
We can't control the complaints
if they are on our file. We're stuck with them. Put a letter of explanation in your file explaining what
happened and how it was corrected. Hopefully the complaint is considered inconclusive or unfounded. But an explanation
to a prospective parent is your best solution.
How do you come off to these parents?
Remember your very first interview and first impression is on the phone. How do you answer the phone? Are you answering in
a professional manner? Are you quick to get off the phone? Are you helpful to the parent and answer questions with a friendly
tone. Remember they are going to ask questions and it's not out of disrespect to ask anything...so answer them to the best
of your knowledge and stay courteous. One of the complaints I hear a lot is that the provider was rude over the phone, or they did not return their calls
when they left a message...or the message machine played 3 minutes of silly stuff before they could even leave a message.
Remember these parents are on schedules and they will just go on down their list of providers to call if they have to wait
on long phone messages. Sometimes they won't even leave a message because they want to hear a human answer the phone. We know
we can't always answer the phone due to the kids, but when you can answer then you should answer. Just be sure
there are no kids crying in the background or it's to loud. "answer your phone"
Those phone calls are extremely
important. This is your link to the outside world to get clients. All the advertising in the world won't help if you don't
answer the phone, or return phone calls, or are less than professional over the phone.
YOUR INSIDE ENVIORNMENT LOOK?
It doesn't matter the size of your
child care. It doesn't matter if you
have all the expensive fancy new things vs. someone with just regular toys. It doesn't matter if you buy it new or yard sale. It does matter how it is set up and how clean your home is. These are important things to take into consideration. Parents have chosen homes that were more homey looking over child cares that looked like mini-centers. They will choose what fits
their needs and philosophy, and it was clean. Walking into a house that is cluttered, unorganized, and smelly will turn away
clients. The same goes with the yard. Keep it tidy and
free of hazards.
Curb appeal. The front
of your house needs to look neat and tidy, clean. No trash around the yard, or hazards. You don't have to have a brand new
house, any house is fine as long as you take care of it and keep the property looking tidy and clean. I hear from parents
all the time about walking into a child care and they could smell the cat box, or urine from the children. They complain about
dirty dishes and it's not the daily use but dishes that have been sitting for days. People can tell. Flies and filth are a big turn off. Obviously!
If you have pets or dogs keep the
yard clean. No one wants their child playing in a yard mixed with dog feces. It's not only filthy but a health hazard. You
can have your dog and child care too but keeping the yard cleaned up and washed down is a must. If at all possible have a separate yard area for the kids so they are not playing on the same grass or dirt where
the dog does his business. And for safety as well. Dogs can get rambunctious and even the most friendly of dogs
can and will bite.
and other pets. Some parents don't want their children around Dogs, or other pets. This could be either
for health reasons or fears either way this could be a problem with getting clients. This is a big issue to take
it all into consideration.
Most states have made it against
the law for providers to smoke on premises during child care hours. If you are a smoker please remember that parents
can still smell it on you and this can be a turn off. If you smoke on premises your house will smell of smoke and it's
not a good smell either. This will also turn parents away. Especially non smoking families and parents needing
people in the home:
We all have families but if clients
come and it's the local hang out for 10 teenagers they might not consider this a good environment for their young child. Nothing
wrong with having your child brings his/her friends over but remember it could affect your business. What if you were a parent
and you walked into your child care and found your provider had a lot of company. They are in one part of
the house but having a good time. The provider is supposed to be caring for the kids? A parent will want
to know how you can socialize
with your friends and care for the kids? This is not professional. Or your husband is whooping and hollering in the family
room with a bunch of buddies watching foot ball. Regardless of the fact that it's "your home" you have chosen to do a
business from your home and care for kids. You have to maintain a professional reputation and appearance at all time
during your business hours. This is all part of the things you need to take into consideration when deciding to do child care
We need providers who do school
transportation because there is a need for after school care for the school age children. However, because
they do provide this service many parents with younger children and infants will continue their search for a provider
who does not take the children out in the car. Take into consideration what age groups you really want to
care for? If you have helpers and you can do transportation without dragging all the babies and preschoolers along then you
have a better chance. But if you have to take them along and this is hindering you getting the younger ones then see
which will be a better avenue for you to take. Young children or school age children instead of both.
Also some providers are doing a
lot more running around in the car beyond school transportation. Providers are going grocery shopping, and other errands during
their business hours. Think about this for a moment. If you were working an outside job with an employer you could
not be doing your personal errands during your working hours, so why would you do these things during your business hours
when you are being paid to care for these children? This is how parents look at it.
If you are struggling with your
child care business evaluates yourself and your environment. Ask yourself questions that parent would ask? Look at your environment
the way a parent would look at it. Ask other providers to come visit your child care for feedback and suggestions. Sometimes
a different set of eyes will see things differently. Just remember it is constructive criticism if you do this be prepared
to hear what they have to say. Don't take it personally. There could be a number of other factors not even listed
in this article that could be preventing you from getting the cllinets these are just the more common ones. ...Hopefully
this gave you some insight as to the Why...
copyright October 2004
Child care professional since 1971
Support leader, mentor and
nafcc accredited since 2000