If you are considering starting a daycare business, you may be well aware that it is going to take some time and effort. However, if you love children as much as most daycare operators do, this time and energy expenditure is likely well worth it for you! While it will take work to build a thriving daycare business, the best practice to make your journey easier is to set some solid business goals ahead of time to guide you.
Here are the business goals that you need to establish if you are interested in starting a daycare business. You must conduct market research in your community, develop a thorough business plan, make your space child-friendly, and market your specific mission for all to see.
Some of these words may sound intimidating and new, but you are likely already familiar with the concepts. While starting a daycare business must be done correctly, it does not need to be confusing or complicated. Let’s break it down further:
Why Listen First?
Before you start, take a minute to listen. Ask questions of the community to see if there is a need for a daycare center in your area and, if so, where it might be best utilized. This is called market research. Not only will market research give you an excellent idea of what the people in your community are looking for, but you will also establish some buy-in from those who feel like they were part of the decision to make it happen.
Conducting market research may be valuable for you in case a daycare would not be utilized in the area you were first considering. If that is the case, do not give up yet! Instead, pivot and commit to finding a location that needs your business.
As you are listening to potential parents and grandparents, pay attention to what is most important to them in a child care center. Take notes for later, as you will need to determine a focus for your daycare and it is best to base this on the needs of your community.
What is Included in a Daycare Business Plan?
First, why bother writing one? Good question. Not only will having a solid business plan help you out if you decide to apply for a financial loan, but it will also show your community (including yourself!) that you have thought through every single step before even getting started.
A thorough business plan will include:
- Mission Statement
- Market Research
- Policies and Procedures
- Marketing Plan
A business plan is an excellent opportunity to determine a primary mission for your daycare. Consider what makes your daycare unique:
Is your center extra safety-conscious?
Is it exceptionally fun?
Does it especially focus on education?
Does it serve a particular need (religious, developmental, odd hours) that others might not?
This mission will help you stand out in parents’ minds. Establish this early and make sure no one forgets it. It may even be valuable for the name of your daycare to contain some sort of indication of what makes you special.
Including examples and statistics from your market research will show potential lenders and partners that your business is organized, capable, and fulfilling a need. This is essential when people are being asked to trust you with their finances or children. Being clear about your plan to succeed as a business helps everyone feel more comfortable about being involved.
While making a profit may not be the only reason you are starting a daycare, it is likely high on the list and will be essential for your success.
- Fees: Investigate what other local child care centers charge and keep their fees in mind when establishing your own. You will want to be competitive in your local market.
- Costs: When you are adding up your utility, supply, and equipment costs, do not forget to add in what essential licensing you must obtain. Licensing is often conducted at the state level. This is also an important time to consider what your staff make up will look like and how much you will pay them.
- Funding: Be sure to investigate what types of funding and loans may be available in your area. Every dollar counts when you are just starting out!
Policies and Procedures:
- Operating Procedures: Establishing procedures early will help staff, children, and parents all understand your expectations ahead of time and keep communication smooth. You should make these clear and available for all parties involved in a handbook, digital document, or both.
- Insurance Policies: You will likely require multiple different types of insurance policies for your business, employees, and children. Be sure to speak with officials in your area to understand all requirements before opening your doors.
Once you have established who you will be as a daycare and how to best conduct your business, it’s time to share it with the world! Writing out a marketing plan step by step will ensure you know exactly what to do when the time is right.
Child-Friendly Requirements You Will Overlook:
Child-friendly can have multiple meanings to different parents, teachers, and business owners. To be a truly child-friendly center, you will want to consider all perspective and be proficient in each.
Understand Laws and Restrictions
To have a child-friendly daycare, it must be safe, clean, and legal. Take your time to understand the building code requirements in your area, any health requirements for children, sanitization needs, and be sure your business exceeds the bare minimum. Visit Child Care Aware of America’s State Licensing Database and select your particular state to download the standards you will need to consider.
Fill Your Space
Age appropriate equipment, activities, educational material will be essential for your parents to feel comfortable signing their kids up for your daycare and for children to feel comfortable attending. Do not only focus on fun, education, comfort, or movement, but rather balance all aspects of developmental support.
Speaking of space, it will be important for your children to get some fresh air when possible. Tend to your outside area with just as much care as the indoor area. Determine how you will keep the space clean and safe, but also filled with equipment and activities for children to enjoy their outdoor playtime.
Making your daycare child-friendly includes making the people you hire child-friendly. Establish what qualities you most desire in your staff in advance so that you know exactly who you are looking for. Be thorough in your interview process – these will be the people on the front lines of your center. If you want your daycare to be the best, you need the best employees!
Where to find kids to fill your daycare?
Once you have established every procedure and purchased every toy, it’s time to sign up some families to make use of your new business! Marketing yourself is certain to yield more potential customers than replying on word of mouth alone.
Focus on Your Mission
This is the most important part of marketing your daycare, because this is who the community will know you as. Focus on what makes you unique and do not worry about repeating yourself. Repetition helps people remember who you are and why you are valuable to them.
Show Up in Your Community
In addition to being unique and repeating why you’re unique, you need to be heard. Show up at community events, fairs, and in businesses when given permission. Create flyers and send mailings. Make a sign for your business and stick smaller signs in the yards of your supporters. Do not let people forget that you are in operation and that you know what it means to show up for their children.
To properly market to younger families, you need to be online. To properly market to grandparents, you need to be online. To properly market in a way that everyone will remember your name and mission, you need to be online.
I cannot stress this enough, especially in this day and age. People are being constantly inundated with digital advertising messages. If you want to be heard, you need your voice to be in that mix.
Marketing your business is not once and done. You will not be able to complete your marketing in a day, just as you will not be able to complete it in a month. It is important to keep showing up – in your community and online. To help make sure you do not get burned out in the process, it might be wise to hire someone to assist you or ask a friend or family for help.
Remember, every time you impact someone with your mission is another opportunity for a potential customer to learn why you are the best option for their child, grandchild, niece, or nephew. Keep reaching out and soon you will have a thriving daycare business that everyone wants to be a part of.
How to market my daycare online?
Create a Website
Your website does not need to be fancy, but it is important to have a spot where potential customers can learn more about your business online. Make sure your contact information is easy to find and understand. Include some visuals and links to any social media sites that you may update more regularly.
According to Pew Research Center, approximately 74% of U.S. adults who use Facebook visit it at least once per day. That is an incredible opportunity for your message to be heard. To be effective at Facebook marketing, you need to do more than simply advertise your center. Your Facebook page should be a hub of information, entertainment, interaction, and all things child care related. When you show your community your value, they will learn to trust you – possibly, even with their children.
Consider ways you might make a video adding value to the lives of parents. Do you have enough education to explain a stage of child development? Can you teach them a fun game your students love? Can you record yourself reading a children’s book? While you can certainly make some videos showing off your daycare center, do not forget to add value to their lives in other ways.
You do not need to spend much money on Facebook or Google Advertisements for them to reach your community effectively. If you have the money to allocate to it, set up an ad to run in the background for a few days or weeks and let it work its magic without your constant supervision.
What are some ways I can make my daycare business stand out?
Specialized Child Care
Offering specialized child care or making your space suitable for children with particular developmental or sensory needs is one way to make your center the place to be for families who do not always feel like they belong everywhere else.
While many daycare centers offer a safe and fun space for children to interact while their parents are working, often the interaction between teachers and parents is limited to drop off and pick up. To stand out, some daycares will make an extra effort to connect with parents throughout the day or week. This can be accomplished through photo sharing apps, regular email reports, or check ins throughout the day.
For some daycares, it makes sense to establish a relationship with a school or religious institution. This helps parents involved with these organizations know you are a trustworthy establishment as well as encourages your clients to consider the affiliated school or religious body.
One way to stand out as a daycare is to provide transportation to or from activities. This may look like transporting students to group events or potentially their own personal activities. This certainly comes with its own new set of challenges, protocols, and insurance, but it may be worth it for you to stand out from the crowd.
Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.
Get your Daycare Business started now, checkout my startup course and documents here