Running a successful childcare business takes work. So much of your care, time, energy, and financial resources goes into making it operate at its best. But things can become scattered and confusing when there isn’t a solid childcare center business plan set into place. What exactly is a business plan, and how can childcare providers use one? If you’re looking to put your childcare center on the right track, here are the best childcare business plan strategies you should follow.
Why You Need a Daycare Business Plan
Having a business plan gives you the foundation you need to build your business. Ideally, before starting a business you have a thorough guide detailing everything you should expect. It includes your startup budget, success markers, legal requirements, employee processes, marketing strategies, and more.
What Your Childcare Center Business Plan Should Include
Creating a business plan isn’t an easy (or quick) process, but it’s a must if you want to make your vision a reality. Even if you’re already in business but simply want to improve, coming up with a new plan can be helpful to reach future goals.
1. Mission and Goals
Start with why you’re running a childcare center in the first place. Who do you hope to help? What impact do you want your school to have? What’s your larger vision? Establishing specific goals will give you direction when making important decisions.
When it comes to goals, here are some necessary subcategories to get clear on:
- Unique Mission Statement – the best brands have a strong mission that reflects throughout their entire business. Form a unique, clear mission statement that’s specific to your daycare. What sets you apart? Why do you do what you do?
- Location – location will determine how you approach your business model. If you’re in an area that’s considered a childcare desert (little to no daycare available), you’ll have an easier time setting up your business than a location that already has a thriving population of childcare providers. Make sure you scope out the competition.
- Type of Daycare – is your daycare an at-home center, a facility, or affiliated to a private or religious organization? Is there a gap in your local market for a childcare center like yours?
- Success Markers – what are the indicators of success in your daycare? How many students need to be enrolled to be at maximum capacity? How much money does your business need to make before it can expand?
- Budget – starting a business isn’t cheap. If you’re considering starting a daycare, get clear on your budget. This includes rent/mortgage, utilities, payroll, supplies, licensing fees, tuition, and more.
2. Operational Policies
Childcare is a regulated industry, and all childcare centers have to abide by policies set by local regulators and governments. Policies keep your childcare center safe and in good standing, and also help ensure trust between you and the families you’ll potentially provide care for. Failing to define and abide by a clear set operational policies can ruin your business, so make sure you’ve thought through the details and are aware of what’s required.
Policy requirements vary by state and county. Here are the main types of operational areas you should focus on:
- Licensure and Laws – the minimum requirement to run a childcare center is local licensure. If you’re in the U.S. check the National Database of Childcare Licensing Regulations to learn more about your requirements.
- Health, Safety, and Sanitation – to operate a daycare, you need to follow health and safety guidelines. Make sure you, and your staff, are well aware of all the legal regulations and site-specific protocols your center will follow.
- Worker’s Comp – if you or a staff member gets injured on the job, having a worker’s compensation plan can save your business a lot of money and legal trouble.
- Liability Insurance – insurance protects and helps cover your childcare business from disastrous accidents.
- Crisis Plan – what are your action plans if there’s ever a crisis or natural disaster during daycare hours?
3. Teacher and Employee Responsibilities
If you’re relying on staff members to help run your business, it’s vital to create clear expectations to encourage professionalism.
At a minimum, plan these factors of employee responsibility:
- Accreditation – what credentials do your teachers and employees need to have to work for you?
- Hiring Process – structure the hiring (and lay-off) process to meet legal requirements. Make sure the people you hire fit into the mission of your childcare center.
- Curriculum & Activities – how and when will staff members need to plan (or deliver) the necessary curriculum? What activities will happen on a weekly and daily basis? How will you track learning and assessment?
- Staff Communication – there need to be defined methods of communication between all staff members. Utilizing technology will help lower the risk of error.
4. Tuition and Payment Methods
It’s important to understand how your childcare center will make money. How will families pay for your daycare center? What will your tuition fees be? Know the financial requirements your childcare center needs to keep running (and thriving). You should consider:
- Cost of Each Child – tuition costs should be factored into your overall budget and annual financial goals. This is what determines how much it costs for each child to attend your daycare. Many childcare centers have plans that parents can choose from.
- Electronic Payment Methods – these days, it’s rare for adults to carry cash or check on hand. Setting up online parent billing will encourage on-time payments, easier billing, and better tracking of funds throughout your business.
- Additional Fees – clarify any fees that need to be paid by parents, such as late fees, onboarding fees, or special activity fees.
5. Parent Communication Strategy
Communication between parents and teachers is one of the most important aspects of running a great daycare. How you communicate with parents says a lot about the character of your staff and the priorities of the business.
Here are some key things to consider when improving parent-teacher communication:
- Scheduling – do parents have a way to view their childcare schedule? Everyone’s busy, so it’s beneficial to provide some sort of digital calendar to help them stay on track.
- Academic Reports – if you can provide announcements, updates, and milestones for a child’s academic progress, parents will feel confident they’re getting what they’re paying for.
- Daily Communication – having a way to consistently relay information to parents throughout the day is important. Consider using a childcare management platform with parent communication features.
- Digital Contact – beyond verbal communication, parents who receive real-time updates while they’re away from their child get the feeling of being present for their child’s special moments.
6. Marketing Plan
Effectively marketing your childcare center can help skyrocket growth and boost your reputation with local families. Most business plans pay a significant amount of attention to marketing strategy. Here are the key three things to map out:
- Marketing Methods – how will you market your business? Will you focus on digital marketing, word of mouth referrals, or traditional means through newspapers and local ads?
- Online Reputation Management (ORM) – maintaining your reputation online and in-person can take time, but with the right marketing plan, it can position you as an authority in childcare.
- Advertising – paying to display ads online can help target your ideal audience. By calculating your ad spend or hiring a marketing team, you can bring in the families who are looking for a childcare center like yours.
Tools for a Successful Childcare Center Business Plan
Whether you’re thinking of opening a new daycare center or already running an established facility, knowing your business plan inside and out will help you achieve your goals and guide you as you grow your business.
You can even streamline this process with childcare-savvy digital tools that can enhance your business plan. Apps like Daily Connect give you access to all systems and strategies you need when planning and running your childcare business.
With customizable online learning tools, parent-teacher messaging, childcare center management, and parent billing features, Daily Connect helps childcare businesses run smoother than ever. Get a free trial today, or contact the team for a step-by-step demo of how Daily Connect can improve your business for years to come.