Now that we’re through the initial month of the year where childcare administration focused on returning to education after holiday breaks and enrolling children in new programs for the new year, it’s time to think about how you want to adapt and grow your childcare business in 2022.
The last few years have put strains on childcare businesses across the country. But they’ve also provided opportunities to reposition these businesses, innovate with more flexible care options and focus on developing students.
As such, many childcare centers have had little time to focus on developing their businesses outside of surviving the challenges the coronavirus pandemic brought.
If this sounds like your center, learn the 5 focus areas for 2022 to develop and grow your early childhood education business.
2022 Childcare Administration Focus Areas
This year could hold great possibilities for you with effort in the right areas. Here’s a look at 5 key business areas you should focus on this year.
In 2020, childcare centers first faced forced closures. But then once they reopened, they also had to operate under reduced capacity, which presented new challenges. But even once restrictions loosened, childcare centers faced a whole new challenge of more parents working from home or enjoying flexible work arrangements that changed their need for childcare. Then of course came the labor shortage of 2021, which has made hiring and retaining workers difficult.
All these challenges of the last two years left many childcare centers simply working with what they had. That meant they put very little effort into marketing, primarily due to budget, time and enrollment capacity constraints.
This is the time to revisit marketing campaigns and start prospecting again. A few things you should be doing in 2022 to ensure long-term success include:
- Set up a place on your website for prospective parents to subscribe to your email list to stay up to date on enrollment opportunities and what’s happening at your center. That way, when you do have an opening, you’ll have an interested and ready list of prospects to market that opening to.
- Review and update your website. If it doesn’t currently include a parent portal and parent resources, it’s certainly time to add those pieces of information. Parents want to manage their child’s education with digital tools and resources as much as possible. This was true before the pandemic, but it sped up consumers’ interest in digital tools.
- Send a monthly e-newsletter. This might be something you’re already doing for parents, but don’t forget to do it for prospects. Highlight important activities you’re doing in the classroom and recent achievements. This will keep your email list interested in what you have to offer to ensure you keep a full enrollment throughout the year.
2. Audit Day-to-day Operations
Operations is an aspect of your business that can always get better. Reviewing operations annually should be a part of your continuous improvement plans because trends and tools for managing your business are constantly shifting.
As you evaluate your childcare center operations, here are a few areas of your business you should audit.
- Software and documentation procedures
- Policies and procedures, which should be documented within your parent handbook
- Educational programming and lesson planning
- Supplies, vendors and subscriptions
- Meal plans
- Areas of customer feedback
For that last one, you should send out a customer satisfaction survey to parents annually. Capture their likes, dislikes, interests and areas for improvement. This will help you constantly develop your programs and delight customers in a new way.
Staff can make or break a daycare experience for parents. Teachers and administrators set the tone for the entire experience. Areas of your staffing that you should focus on, include:
- Updating your staff handbook
- Creating retention plans
- Staff performance review processes
- Regular meetings and listening sessions to hear staff needs and areas of opportunity
- Staff training plans to develop your team
- New teacher training programs
- Classroom walkthroughs and audits
You want to ensure you retain the best talent while having the tools to attract new talent when you have an opening.
4. Review Financials
Renewing a budget every year without reviewing every expenditure is one way that small businesses can get into a situation where their spending has large impacts on their bottom line.
But the cost of goods has also increased significantly over the last several months, which means, you might need to raise your rates to meet those changing needs.
As you evaluate your financials, take a hard look at these aspects of your receivables and expenditures:
- Cost of required goods
- Vendor suppliers and fees
- Digital subscriptions
- Staffing costs
- Upcoming projects
- Profitability of various programs and enrollment types
Investing time and money in your leadership skills and abilities is challenging. Most childcare administrators struggle to find time to enroll in webinars, training opportunities, etc.
But if you aren’t growing in leadership skills, you’ll struggle to keep a competitive edge in your community and retain top talent. As a childcare administrator, you serve as the hiring director, accounting manager, customer service representative for parent requests and complaints, curriculum planner and so much more. You must invest in yourself to meet the needs of everyone you serve.
Some opportunities for improving your skills include:
- Industry webinars
- Quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) in your state
- Small business groups and networking near you
- Local chamber of commerce involvement
- Networking at local businesses
If your 2022 audit of your operations shows it’s time for modern childcare software that helps you communicate with parents better, track important development milestones and improve your profitability, schedule a free demo of iCare Software, childcare management software tailored to your needs.