It’s not all that hard to earn extra income for your daycare center. Let me explain why.
When I was first starting one of my daycare centers, I was desperately looking for ways to get people interested in touring our daycare. I wanted to speed up the enrollment process.
After much experimentation, I found that the best way to attract new clients and get the phones ringing was to offer drop in care to existing part-time customers or those who’d already expressed an interest in our daycare center.
If implemented properly, drop-in care can be an incredible way to earn extra income for your daycare center and turn occasional customers into consistent clients.
Find out everything about flexible child care made simple in our video:
Reasons to consider providing flexible daycare
- If you are not full every day, this is a great way to attract more customers to try your daycare center. If you are providing a great service, these customers are most likely going to turn into long-term clients
- Even if you are fully-enrolled, some kids do not show up. You can fill those gaps with another paying customer who wants that spot for the day
- Many customers nowadays are working from home or have variable schedules; by allowing drop-in care you have the ability to stand out and appeal to families that are looking for flexibility
- You’re paying your teacher the same to watch a group of 3 children or 5 children. Filling those one or two spots on a day where you are low can mean the difference between breaking even or making a profit. Why not allow people to book those extra spots? It’s no extra cost for you and can only help you earn extra income for your daycare center
- When you’re first starting a daycare center, this is an excellent way to attract clients. People are sometimes hesitant to commit to a set tuition plan, but once you show them you can shine with their child? They’re sold
- You can and should charge a higher rate for drop-in care, as it is a major convenience; parents should pay a premium for not being on a tuition-based plan
How I started my drop-in system
When I first decided to allow drop in at my daycare centers, I decided I’d put up a calendar on my website that allowed parents to see how many spaces were available to book in each classroom. Parents started booking on a consistent basis, because they found the system so convenient. Suddenly, drop in care grew to a substantial income generator. As a result, my business received a big boost.
Then my wife said: why not make a drop in care website exclusively for daycare centers? Can you build a system that all daycare center providers could benefit from?
My wife and I went to the local coffee-shop and started to brainstorm and wrote down on a dry-erase board the beginnings of what would become our web-based system, HoppingIn.com, that would easily allow daycare center providers to manage drop in care.
Here’s a whiteboard sketch of what would become our home screen:
It’s since turned into this beauty!
The cure for drop-in headaches
We found that the problem with running a drop-in care program is the management of it. It can be tough to let parents know which specific spots you have open on an ongoing basis. It’s also difficult to remember to bill and collect payment for those kids.
When we created our drop-in program for you to use we had all these (and other) potential problems in mind and set out to design a program that was easy for both childcare providers and customers. We created Hopping In to help your customers browse and buy unused spots, and help you manage it without feeling like you’re losing time.
Here’s a run-down of the problems and solutions we’ve come up with after years of hard work on this program:
Problem: How do we show which spots are open?
Solution: You click “Open Spots” and open the amount of spots you want on any date in any classroom
Problem: How do we get parents to let us know they aren’t coming and open even more spots on the calendar?
Solution: On the parent login, they have a button to “Drop Spots” for days they won’t be attending. You get to approve the drop. If it’s approved, it becomes available on the calendar for other daycare center clients to buy.
Bonus: You can offer a small credit to the parent if the spot sells. Also, the Hopping In application tracks all of it for you.
Problem: What if there are no spots available for parents who want to book extra days?
Solution: They can tap any day to be added to the waitlist. They’ll also be emailed the moment you open that spot or another customer drops that spot.
Problem: How do I make sure I’m not over-booked?
Solution: You tell Hopping In how many spaces you have open in that room and it doesn’t allow you to go over.
Problem: How do I remember to bill and collect payments?
Solution: HoppingIn.com collects the payments and instantly puts the funds in your PayPal account.
The results: earn extra income for your daycare center
Since implementing Hopping In at our own daycare centers, we’ve seen a drastic increase in net income. Since it provides improved part-time care flexibility, it works for all centers.
Our clients love the convenience of the web-based system that can be used on their phones. I’m constantly getting a flurry of exciting emails notifying us that a parent is booking an extra day or that a parent is wait-listing a day.
Parent participation has been awesome. We’ve told our parents to use the “Drop Days” feature to notify us of days they’ll be absent. This has opened more spots for customers to buy as a result.
In other words, we are fully-utilizing our daycare in ways that just weren’t possible before.
So as you can see, I’m pretty proud of the tool we’ve built. But I’m also excited for you as a daycare provider, because it is simple and really works. Learn how start your drop-in program today!
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 email@example.com