Beyond the basics like work hours and tuition fees, there are a lot of things an in-home child care provider has to know.
That is why we are bringing you the most useful tricks for running a successful home daycare. It’s time to focus on improving, not just overcoming obstacles.
Tip #1: Be friends with kids, but friendly with the parents
Running a successful home daycare is different from running a daycare center. Parents feel much more comfortable communicating to you, and sometimes that means the boundaries get blurred.
Just because you are easy to talk to doesn’t mean they should involve you in private things unrelated to your job. No matter how much you want to help, remember that parents are your customers.
This will help you avoid unnecessary situations like parents asking you to break the contract because you have been made aware of their situation.
You can have sympathy for them but know the limit. Just because a family is struggling with something doesn’t mean you should struggle too.
Tip #2: Don’t take care of kids from friends and family
Like in the tip number one, lines get blurred in home daycares. It’s your home, after all, so it might slip your friends and family’s mind that it’s your workplace, too.
A friend who has a last-minute obligation or a family member late on payments isn’t just bad for your finances. They are also bad for other customers who can accuse you of preferential treatment.
It’s not worth losing friendship over, or vice versa – losing business.
Avoid getting caught in a crossfire – it’s not worth losing friendships over, or vice versa – losing business. Instead, say no and help by recommending other good daycare providers.
Tip #3: Stick to your policies
When running a successful home daycare, it’s important to stick to your policies.
If you don’t allow lateness without a charge, don’t allow it. If you require parents to bring their own food, stick to it.
Rules are, of course, made to be broken but put a plan in place for that. What happens if there’s a good excuse for lateness? What proof will you require?
These are all things you should think about when creating a parent handbook and your contract. You don’t have to cover all bases – just the ones that would impair your ability to do your job.
But whatever you select, stick to it and don’t budge. Running a successful home daycare is much easier when you’ve got a good system to guide you.
Tip #4: Listen to your gut instinct
If someone feels off in the interview, don’t accept them. Chances are, you won’t change your mind later on, and it can cause more problems than benefits.
If a family is changing their daycare provider, make sure you understand the reasons. Are their complaints reasonable? Even though kids are usually the ones prone to whims, parents aren’t immune either.
Similarly, always ask parents to bring children for the interview and observe the child’s behavior. Kids are still growing so some behaviors are completely natural, but if there are extremes it might be time to reconsider.
For example, if parents say that their child is a biter, understand what that really means. Have there been a few incidents in the past, or does the biting occur frequently?
In order to start or keep running a successful home daycare, remember: this is your interview as much as the parents’. And even if you really need customers, it’s not worth getting ones that will drive others away.
If it doesn’t feel right, it’s not right.
Tip #5: Get some downtime
No matter what you do, don’t check your business phone after hours. Leave an hour before and after for parents to contact you, but not more than that.
Like in tip 1 and 2, parents may forget that you are a child care provider (and not their nanny) and send messages late in the evening.
Make it clear that your business phone after hours is for emergencies only. They can address everything else at drop-off or pick-up time.
Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Running a successful home daycare isn’t easy and that’s exactly why you should take some time for yourself. Go to the gym or take a walk – your daycare will still be there when you come back.
Tip #6: Charge up front
The best thing you can do for your daycare’s revenue is to charge up front.
If you have weekly tuition, ask the parents to pay on Monday. If you have monthly tuition, it should be due within the first five days of the month.
This helps you make sure that your finances are in check, and gives you the rest of the month to focus on other things that need your attention. Payment up front is also very effective in preventing skipping out on payment.
In any case, it’ll give you the peace of mind you deserve.
Tip #7: Fill your vacant spots
Hopping In displays your daycare’s availability to parents who need extra time. Parents can also drop spots in Hopping In and earn a partial tuition credit back when someone else books those spots.
Vacant spots are a hassle, and by using Hopping In, you can give parents the flexibility they need while boosting your revenue.
It gives you more time and a bigger budget that you can spend on running a successful home daycare and finally going on that vacation – without a care in the world.
Author: Hopping In Blog
Sholom Strick is an expert on the business of running daycare centers and founder of Hopping In, a tool that helps childcare centers and family daycare providers fill unused spots.
To contact him or for media inquiries email firstname.lastname@example.org