Childcare centers face fierce competition from other centers in their area and changes in the industry, such as more parents working at home or using in-home daycare options. The ever-changing marketplace makes for difficulties in meeting financial responsibilities and executing strong communication and operational goals.
As the millennial generation becomes the primary customer for childcare centers, it means the centers must adapt and grow to meet the expectations of this generation, namely the need for outstanding technology.
Millennial parents grew up in the digital age, unlike their Gen Y counterparts who adopted technology later in life. Most millennials never had to write a research paper using encyclopedias or resources you can only find at a library. For them, they could always say “just Google it.”
So when they look for a childcare center, their solution is probably the same, “just Google it.” Is your childcare center’s technology and software advanced enough to keep up and respond to this need to be there when someone Googles childcare centers?
And what about your communication outlets? Do you allow parents to email, text or message you with questions about their child and their care?
To guide you in your next steps of overcoming today’s challenges, here are the top challenges facing childcare centers.
Today’s consumers aren’t used to having to write a check for things or keep track of payment deadlines. Automation has become so prevalent all aspects of consumerism that there is an expectation now that all companies requesting payment will provide that same luxury.
Childcare providers need to keep up with payment collection styles and offer automated recurring tuition payments. Automating payments not only benefits parents, but the childcare center as well. Your business can save time in billing and following up on late bills with recurring payments. When you choose iCare Software to manage your tuition collection needs, we even give you notifications of credit cards that are expiring so you can check in with your clients and never miss a payment.
Managing enrollment (and keeping enrollment full)
Your primary function as a childcare administration team is to ensure that your childcare remains profitable by keeping enrollment full. You need an eye toward when children will move up from one classroom to the next and how to drive new enrollment interest in your center.
Attendance sheets and teacher assignments can help but managing enrollment on a piece of paper or spreadsheet is just not as efficient and doesn’t provide as many insights as a childcare management software can.
One of the greatest marketing tactics is referrals. A happy parent is much more likely to recommend your center to their neighbors and coworkers than one who feels disengaged from their child’s care.
Record-keeping (and security of those records)
Your childcare center most likely has rules around vaccination records and health information. You also need to know how a child is developing and what benchmarks they are achieving. With so much information to detail, you need a safe and secure place to log and store the information.
Parents need peace of mind that the right processes are in place to protect their child’s private documents, and you need easy access to the information to ensure compliance with rules and regulations. Emergency contacts, allergies and preferences all need to be documented and followed closely.
Record-keeping is made simple with childcare management software. With HIPAA compliance and a web-based platform, iCare Software keeps your important documents secure but accessible from anywhere when you need them.
Today’s communication channels make it possible to stay in close contact at all times. And because parents can update grandparents and friends quickly about what their child has been up to, they expect that same courtesy with you and your childcare center.
Having to call to check on your child is an antiquated way of keeping in touch. With texting, emails and mobile notifications, parents can see what their child is doing throughout the day and share in their care even when they can’t be there. A happy parent is a returning customer, which means you can’t ignore this facet of your business.
You can’t leave your finances until the end of the year at tax time and hope that all looks good. Regular checks into your profitability and opportunities can help you grow and succeed over your competitors. Good bookkeeping means knowing all money going in and out at all times.
Do monthly checks and see how you’re tracking on your finances. The benefit of childcare management software is, you can see money in from tuition and money out from expenses all in one place without having to import or sync data from anywhere else.
Knowing when to bring in substitute teachers and how to shift your teachers around to meet your student-to-teacher ratio can be a real challenge. Student absences, teacher sick days, and local school calamity days and holidays all make a difference. Keeping track of it all on your own is pretty tough.
Not to mention teacher retention and job satisfaction so that you keep the best of the best. Parents like to know their child’s teachers and build rapport with them at drop off and pick up so you want to avoid making too many shifts and changes when you can avoid it.
The easiest way to overcome this challenge is to use your childcare management system to see a holistic view of your enrollment. When do you have children enrolling in your school and leaving so you can best manage your staffing and keep your teachers happy?
Although we just covered the many challenges facing childcare currently, the work you do is still incredibly important. Don’t let these challenges get you down or forget that the work you do matters. If you’re looking for a partner in your childcare software management endeavors, iCare Software is here to make that as simple as possible. Our outstanding support will help you when you need it and our super simple setup process makes it easy to adopt the software.