Growing a childcare center is about more than the child care you provide; it’s about making the right decisions to get there. Financial efficiency is the key to taking your small business home daycare to a medium-sized childcare center. Maximizing resources, controlling costs, and increasing profitability are the best ways to achieve financial efficiency.
Home daycare vs daycare center: What’s the difference
Childcare providers have to choose the scale on which they’ll provide care. It may be a smaller home-based daycare or a larger center-based program. Developing, maintaining, and growing each is a very different journey.
For example, a home daycare may be simpler to develop and maintain since it is located in your own home, but it may be harder to grow without the physical space and flexibility of a center. Developing and maintaining a commercial property is more complex, and there is more pressure to grow to keep up with the expenses of maintaining a larger facility. Here’s a small chart to give you more of an idea of the differences:
How to grow your in-home daycare into a daycare center
If you operate a home-based program, transitioning into a larger, center-based program will take time and strategic action. Use resources and try a variety of approaches to help propel you there. As you’re on the journey, be patient with the growth over time and refer to the following seven strategies.
1. Stay abreast of licensing and compliance requirements
The laws, regulations, and rules for each state regarding childcare providers will vary. In certain states, your home-based program may not have been required to have a license or follow childcare certification standards. So, if you’re expanding from a home daycare to a daycare center, it’s important to be familiar with the licensing requirements for your specific state.
2. Market your business like a pro
As a childcare provider, you’re also a business owner. Word of mouth can be impactful, but there are a lot of limitations to how much it can help your business grow. Integrate business marketing strategies that you can apply to your childcare business.
Tackling your online presence is a great place to start reaching a wider audience. Prioritize building your social media profiles with consistent postings promoting your childcare service’s expertise and offerings. Showing off your use of a childcare management software like brightwheel is a great way to also show that your childcare business is a tech-savvy operation with industry expertise and quality standards.
Next, update your website to include compelling content about your childcare services, qualifications, and philosophy. Invest in the content for your website and connect it to the content on your social media. Leverage digital tools to increase the impact of your website and social media platforms as much as possible to target specific audiences that may be interested in your childcare services.
3. Prioritize financial efficiency
Growing your childcare business is only half the battle; the other half is sustaining the growth. The best way to do so is to emphasize your focus on financial efficiency. Financial efficiency is how well the money invested into your business is translating into revenue. You don’t have to do it alone—you can rely on software and tools like brightwheel. With brightwheel, you’ll have access to features to help you manage your business, simplify your billing process, and centralize your financial records to maintain long-term success.
4. Maximize your resources
Another part of creating financial stability in the long term is making the most out of all your resources. Being able to make everything stretch means you can remain the most financially efficient. Making the right decisions in staff utilization, space management, and equipment can make a huge difference. Here are a few tips and strategies for resource maximization:
- Build the right team: Growing your business from a home daycare to a childcare center isn’t something you can do alone. The work your staff can contribute to your business is especially valuable for taking it to the next level.
- Automate whatever you can: Utilizing software and technology that can do work for you frees up extra work for your employees so they can move on to other tasks. You might automate bookkeeping, accounting, taxes, payroll, timesheets, new family intake, and marketing. Or, you may use childcare management software like brightwheel to streamline and automate administrative tasks and simplify family communication in one central platform.
- Seek help and advice: There are a lot of resources out there for you as a business owner and a childcare provider. Continue to utilize them and your local community of childcare providers to see what other strategies you can apply to your business.
- Prioritize the essentials: When planning to budget time, money, and resources, focus on the most important things first. Get what your business needs first, then anything extra second.
5. Control costs
Part of financial efficiency is ensuring that costs are kept low without compromising the quality of the child care you provide. Using the right strategies can help you cut and control operational costs with ease. Here are a few you can try applying to your childcare business:
- Embrace time-saving technology: Your time is valuable, and with technology that saves you time on tasks like creating invoices and tracking payments, you can increase your daily efficiency. This can often be cost-effective in the long run as software can free up your and your staff’s time to focus on other tasks that impact your revenue.
- Focus on sustainability: Use as many reusable items as possible, keep snacks and juices away so they need to be asked for instead of being taken at will, and use efficient appliances. These small changes can add up to a lot of money saved.
- Utilize fundraising: Before you raise the cost of your care for families, remember that you’re part of a local community for which you provide an essential service. Call upon the support of that community to fundraise for extra money to upgrade the quality of your care so that the burden isn’t all on the families.
- Keep an eye on the wider industry: Stay aware of what’s happening in the childcare industry. The market rates, inflation, and what families may be experiencing economically can all impact your business and influence your financial decisions.
6. Integrate technology for efficiency
A major difference between running a small home-based program and a medium-sized childcare center is the tools required to operate. For example, if you only have two employees and less than 10 children, you may be able to run and track everything with physical, manual work. As your center grows, it becomes impractical and inefficient to maintain certain practices without technology.
Streamlining administrative tasks for your business improves overall efficiency and accuracy as you scale up. You may integrate technology like Indeed in your hiring process, QuickBooks in your accounting, Sortly for inventory, or a tool like brightwheel to manage the many aspects that are involved in running a childcare program including billing, admissions, family communication, and lesson planning.
7. Invest in staff training and development
As you scale up your childcare business, there are a lot of decisions to make for how you will prioritize spending. Certain aspects are worth the investment early on to increase the quality of your childcare. For example, it is smart to invest in your staff’s training as they are the foundation of your childcare center and the core of your operations.
Cost-effective training and professional development opportunities for your staff can help you build an engaged team and improve the learning environment for your children. Look for free, online training courses, ask for discounts on professional memberships, or establish a mentorship program at your center to help develop your staff.
Keys to financial planning for home daycare to daycare center growth
How you manage your finances will be one of the biggest factors in growing your childcare business. Careful budgeting and strategic financial planning will lead you toward expanding and sustaining future growth. Look for every opportunity to lower costs, increase enrollment, and improve the quality of your center. Here are a few insights to keep in mind during the planning process:
- Use a tool like brightwheel billing for a complete view of your finances to support growth initiatives
- Research ways to add new revenue streams beyond tuition
- Regularly ask for feedback and suggestions from your staff and from your families
- Work with your local community to get things like equipment, food, and goods at better rates
- Offer incentives for new families to enroll and referral benefits for existing families
How to monitor and evaluate growth
As you focus on growing your childcare business, you’ll need to make changes and adjustments along the way. Tracking what’s working and what’s not will help you create the perfect plan for getting to the point of growth you want. Regularly evaluating and adjusting for continuous improvement is easier when using tools like brightwheel that digitally help you manage your business. Here are a few strategies you can use to monitor your financial performance over time:
- Define specific growth metrics
- Break down goals and feedback into action items
- Track changes in your spending and income
- Record fluctuations in enrollment
Growing a business takes time
It takes a lot of work to run a childcare business, and working on raising it to the next level is an even larger undertaking. Using the right tools, creating the right team, and tracking the right metrics can make a huge difference. Follow these strategies and seek more knowledge to transform your home daycare into a successful childcare center.
Brightwheel is the complete solution for early education providers, enabling you to streamline your center’s operations and build a stand-out reputation. Brightwheel connects the most critical aspects of running your center—including sign in and out, parent communications, tuition billing, and licensing and compliance—in one easy-to-use tool, along with providing best-in-class customer support and coaching. Brightwheel is trusted by thousands of early education centers and millions of parents. Learn more at mybrightwheel.com.