As we approach the year’s final months, it’s time to consider your childcare rates. The new year is a good time to make adjustments if you’re going to alter rates. And if you can let your customers know in advance of the change, it gives them time to make other arrangements or adjust their budgeting to fit your new rates.
Most childcare centers need to make incremental fee increases to meet rising costs and inflation. This year, businesses of all kinds are facing financial constraints from the rapid increases in goods.
Maintaining a profitable business is important, which often means annual or biannual rate increases. This helps ensure you can offer your teachers and staff a fair wage and a salary increase after annual reviews in the new year.
Review your budget carefully to see where you’ve seen increases and what your rate increase needs to cover to remain profitable. Then, follow these steps for a smooth rate increase this new year.
Step-by-step Guidance for Childcare Center Rate Increases
Few people are comfortable talking about money. And because of that, rate increases require careful planning and clear messaging. Here’s how to approach a rate increase with the turning of the calendars to a new year.
- Talk to Your Team Members
Administrators generally have fewer interactions with parents than teachers and classroom staff. That means that you need to prepare teachers and classroom staff for the change and talk to them about ways they can answer questions for parents.
- Inform Parents as Soon as Possible
Honesty and transparency will be crucial to maintaining trust. No one likes surprises, especially when they involve something as important as where their children spend their weekdays. The sooner you inform parents, the better the rate change will likely go. While this can put you at risk for parents withdrawing their students after finding alternate care, it’s better that they leave with good memories of your center than that they must scramble to find alternate care and remember your center poorly.
- Provide Parents with All Pertinent Details
When communicating a rate change, be sure that your information includes all these important details.
- The exact amount of the rate change
- The rate change effective date
- Potential benefits the parents will experience with the rate change, such as lower teacher-child ratios or higher quality food
- Changes to the billing and payment process, if applicable
- Answers to common questions, such as for parents who are subsidy eligible
- Prepare for Common Questions
Preparing a one-page FAQ for all center staff and teachers to use in their conversations with parents can help make them feel more comfortable with the change while keeping consistent communication about the rate change. Sending out the FAQ to parents could even decrease the number of questions you get after a rate change.
- Be Empathetic to Everyone During the Rate Change
Parents and teachers might have strong feelings about the change. Try to take the time to hear them out and allow them to share their frustrations in a positive environment. Check-in with teachers regularly to see how things are going and how comfortable they feel having rate change conversations with parents or if any parents are giving them a hard time about it. This will help you retain your teachers by shifting those conversations to administrators.
Common Childcare Rate Increase Missteps
During childcare rate increases, many business owners feel uncomfortable and try to ease the situation with various tactics that can make the situation worse. Here are some common missteps to avoid.
- Pushing back the rate increase date because you’re feeling intimidated about it.
- Changing the amount of the rate increase.
- After the announcement, altering billing timelines or payment processing methods further confuses parents or teachers.
- Making special arrangements for certain parents, such as special rates or payment terms. This will be challenging to keep up and simply isn’t fair to others.
The good news is once you’ve completed a successful rate increase, you can reuse all the templates and messaging you’ve created to engage in rate increases again. The process should improve and feel smoother each time you complete a rate increase.
How you communicate with parents is essential. Rate increases should not be the only time they hear from you. The more transparent your center is, the more parents will appreciate the care you provide their children. iCare Software offers outstanding parent-teacher communication tools to ensure that billing and rates are not the only time parents hear from you. But the tools are also seamless to reduce teachers’ time communicating with parents.
Plus, you’ll get one of the industry’s best childcare billing software systems to make rate-setting simple, even if you provide discounts for multiple children and different rates for different programs a child is enrolled in.
See how the software works and how it can transform your center in every way by scheduling a free demo now.