Anyone who is in the home daycare business will tell you that it is a career that is extremely challenging but also very rewarding. To put things into perspective, an in-home provider is an entrepreneur all round. She plays the role of business owner, administrator, caregiver, cook, parent educator, cleaner, driver, support system, and much more.
An interesting trend in child care is that home daycares and group family dayhomes have been on the rise. This is because of the increase in demand for quality child care and women re-entering the work force to support their families.
The popular opinion that child care providers are glorified babysitters is changing as more and more providers are getting licensed and taking quality seriously. This means providing developmentally appropriate programming to the communities that they serve. Each state has rolled out its own unique early learning framework to support early childhood professionals in this.
Traditionally, in-home providers are licensed to have anywhere from 8 to 12 children. Family group dayhomes are slightly larger, able to accommodate 12 to 24 children. Many of these small businesses grow and expand even to the point of transitioning into a licensed facility (but that is another article).
Given that there are so many moving parts to running a home daycare, technology can be used to your benefit to support the key aspects of your business: marketing for enrolment, managing day to day operations, and growing your business.
Here are some tools that will help you take running your business to the next level.
Social media has grown and taken over the way we communicate and consume information in the last 20 years. Today, it is a standard for every business to have an online presence. This lends legitimacy and is a good way to attract new customers and build your enrolment.
Facebook has evolved from being a personal social media platform to a place where businesses can establish communities, connect with like-minded peers and market themselves. It is free, easy to set up and is a phenomenal tool for staying connected. This is probably something that you already do, but many home daycares use Facebook Groups to send reminders, pictures, and updates to their parents.
This popular photo-sharing app is a favorite for child care professionals in different settings. Similar to Facebook, it is easily accessed and available on mobile devices.
Some home daycare operators use Instagram to document the activities with the children, like a working portfolio for the group of children. Other business owners maintain a public profile to share tips with parents and build their personal brand. There are many directions that you can run with this when using Instagram and it’s completely up to you!
Instagram also allows sponsored posts that are geotargeted, which is a creative way to establish your business’ brand and be discovered by families near you.
Child Care Software
Now that you have kiddos enrolled, running your home daycare is another thing altogether. From keeping track of attendance for licensing, purchasing groceries, communicating with parents, collecting payment – the daily routine is filled with so much to do and so little time!
Here’s where technology can really make things more efficient so you can focus on spending time with the little ones.
As a small business owner, organizing all the administrative paperwork on top of daily duties can be time-consuming and overwhelming. Some people hire assistants or work with a state licensing representative to accomplish all the necessary paperwork.
Investing in child care software is an easy alternative to help with saving time and money in the long run. Using an app to track attendance is as simple as clicking a button. Each child’s sign in and out will be timestamped when the child gets dropped off at your house! This will save you that extra 15 minutes during nap time updating this information and having the attendance log is very useful if you’re charging late fees.
This ease of reporting is also available for sleep, health, potty, and meal reports.
Ask anyone who owns a home daycare and they’ll have something to say about billing. This can be one of the biggest challenges faced by home daycare owners: chasing, collecting, and recording payments can quickly become a nightmare if you are tracking everything in a paper ledger.
Child care software can help you set things up to make tracking incoming and outstanding payments a breeze. You can even set things up so that your parents can pay directly through the app! This keeps things organized and takes away the back and forth of reminding parents to bring in their checks or paying using cash.
Further to that, all your invoices will be easy to edit, reference, and review. This is particularly helpful if you charge late fees or supply fees. You can easily see who has paid, who is pending and who needs an additional reminder through the app. No more chasing parents and sending out paper memos!
Day to day planning
Another way to help you save time in your daily routine is planning out your day. This is extremely helpful in making transitions easier and logging the activities that you’re doing with the kiddos.
With a plan, you can track your progress, notice patterns and evaluate improvements that can be made to your program. Using your state framework to guide your activity planning and documenting progress accordingly is a great way to stand out from the other businesses around you.
With a plan to guide you and help track your progress, it’ll be easier to understand which areas require improvement and even discuss this with your licensing rep! This is really good information to evaluate your program and make small improvements.
All that planning should produce something and here it
This can be as simple as a quick note with a picture, updating parents on things like potty, meals, naps, mood
A recent study showed that 88% of customers research their options before making a purchase. This is why paying attention to your reviews as a small business owner is important. Reviews from your parents can make or break your business. Word of mouth marketing is very impactful and a positive, heartfelt note can go a very long way in convincing prospective parents to enroll with you.
Did you know that your business can sometimes be listed on Yelp without you knowing? Google yourself and if you find your business on there, you can claim it. This will allow you to ensure that your online footprint is consistent. You can upload photos of your home daycare, add a link to your website or social media page, and ensure that your hours, phone number, and other important information are always up to date. This can also serve as a channel for feedback from your existing customers.
Now, what if your business is not listed on any review site? Be proactive and set it up! Creating a Google My Business profile is free and Google Reviews are highly visible when people are doing general searches online. Don’t be shy to ask your existing parents to leave you a review to get things going! Of course, it goes without saying that good reviews are great, but negative reviews can be an opportunity for improvement and open communication with your families. Always remember to be professional and to address the reviews in a neutral manner as everything is available for the public to see.
So, there we have it, how to run your home daycare with technology, from marketing your business, running the daily operations and satisfying your parents, and gathering feedback to improve. How are you currently managing these aspects at your home daycare? Are there other tools that you use? Let us know in the comments.