Whether you are just getting started with your home daycare or are looking for ways to make it run better, these 20 tips will get you where you need to be.
#1. Keep Your Environment Clean and Safe at All Times
Cleanliness and safety must be your top priorities when running a home daycare. It doesn’t take much wear-and-tear from little ones to take a toll on your home. You will want to include time in your daily schedule to pick up once the last parents come for their children at the end of the day.
Your home’s regularly scheduled maintenance needs will also require more attention because of this issue. Get in the habit of walking around the inside and exterior of your property at least once per week. You can use this time to look for potential hazards so that there is a lower risk of an accident happening.
#2. Know Your Licensing Requirements
Every jurisdiction has its own licensing rules to follow when you start a home daycare. Thinking that you won’t need one is a common misconception. You might need separate city, county, and state licenses in some situations. That means you might need to obtain a certificate or diploma before becoming an accredited provider.
Most home daycare owners must undergo CPR training, complete a background check, and have their fingerprints processed.
#3. Keep the Experience Stress-free for Your Parents
If your parents experience stressful situations when dropping off their children at your daycare, then they might decide not to return. Consider the logistics of your home and its aesthetics to a first-time visitor. Can someone find your property right away if they are unfamiliar with your neighborhood? Do you have enough parking available for the drop-off and pick-up rush times?
Making your space feel bright and comfortable will help to set the minds of most parents at ease. It helps to avoid clutter whenever possible.
#4. Encourage Parents to Leave Reviews
Parents will rely on reviews of your home daycare to determine if it is a suitable place for their children. Even if you have lots of positive word-of-mouth recommendations, you cannot ignore the benefits of a published testimonial.
Excellent reviews will create an organic source for new referrals that will keep your vacancy rates low. If you receive negative feedback, then there is an opportunity to correct that situation publicly, which can generate more positive publicity.
#5. Invest in Your People
A small home daycare can be owned and operated by one person. If you start taking more than 3-6 children (the limit varies by jurisdiction), then additional staff members will be necessary. Your small business will benefit if you can invest resources into these new people.
When your staff feels respected and appreciated as an educator instead of as a babysitter, then you can retain great people and impress your parents. Seeing a friendly face when dropping off their precious cargo can reduce the amount of stress that moms, dads, and guardians experience with a home daycare.
#6. Keep a Detailed Policy Handbook
Your home daycare is a small business, even if you’re the only worker providing services. Having a policy handbook available for parents to review will create a professional first impression. It will also eliminate potential future disputes if you have clients read this documentation and agree to it before finalizing their enrollment.
Each jurisdiction has different requirements for this handbook. You’ll need to check with your licensing agency about the inclusion of specific emergency procedures and essential policies to stay in compliance. When you can create clear rules and expectations, then your parents will see more value in the services your home daycare provides.
#7. Don’t Ignore Your Financials
You must invest in some high-quality tools to support your home daycare. Having a reliable computer that can operate accounting software like QuickBooks must be your first investment. You’ll need to keep track of the payments your parents send you for taxation purposes since it is income for you and a possible tax credit for them.
It also helps to have a variety of project management apps available to use, such as Trello, so that you can stay organized.
#8. Make Your Essential Information Easy to Access
If parents have multiple ways to contact you, then there will be fewer stressful incidents to manage if unexpected circumstances arise. Creating a website and a social media page is essential for a positive experience today. Even if you only create something on a free blogging platform like WordPress, it will be better than nothing. The goal is to create a hub of data that parents can access immediately.
Your online presence should include your handbook, credentials, contact info, and the location of your business. It also helps to have any permission slips or printable forms uploaded so that parents can fill out these items in advance.
#9. Emphasize Social Media
You can always improve your presence on social media. It can feel like an overwhelming part of the home daycare experience, but sharing images of your space or advertising your openings on these platforms can provide numerous benefits. If you don’t want to manage several profiles or pages at once, then stick with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. You can choose only one of them if you prefer.
If you want to share photos of the children at your home daycare, remember to have parental permission to do so before uploading any images.
#10. Adjust to the Needs of the Kids in Your Care
Children require flexibility to have a successful experience in any daycare situation. If you focus on providing activities that trigger their natural curiosity, then they will have lots of fun spending time with you each day. When you can create that outcome, then it takes a lot of the stress away from you and your staff.
It doesn’t take much effort to design new activities. If the kids become interested in a bird that they see, then you could install a bird feeder in your yard and plan activities around it. This process can lead to educational discussions that include topics like migration.
#11. Get Your Insurance Updated
Some insurance carriers will let you purchase a rider to your homeowners’ policy that will include your liability for a home daycare. You might need to have a separate insurance product since you’re covering a business opportunity. If you don’t have this protection, then an accident could create a significant monetary and legal liability for your family.
You’ll want general liability insurance at the bare minimum. If you transport kids from your daycare, then commercial auto liability is necessary. Corporal punishment, abuse, and molestation protection are needed if you hire staff to protect your family against legal costs, fines, or medical expenses.
#12. Get Prepared for a Longer Day
Most home daycare providers are putting in 10-hour days to accommodate parents that require supervision for their kids while they’re working. The average amount you’ll earn is $16,000 per year (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics), so your hourly wages aren’t that high. You can’t call in sick or take a personal or vacation day like you can with other jobs either, which means you’re stuck working at times when you’d rather be doing anything else.
If you run the home daycare by yourself, then there won’t be much adult contact throughout the day. That can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. You’ll want a plan in place to cope with those issues.
#13. Purchase Health Care Insurance
You will want health care insurance if you operate a home daycare. Little ones tend to bring more illnesses to your home, which means you’ll catch every virus that works its way around your community. Since you’re self-employed with this venture, the policy options in your area might be limited. You’ll also pay more for the plans unless you go through a subsidized exchange.
#14. Avoid Friends and Family Whenever Possible
Personal and professional boundaries tend to blur a little bit when you start a home daycare. It doesn’t always register with people that your property is also your place of business. If relatives or close friends want you to watch their children, you must make sure that you have a clear contract in place that outlines their financial responsibilities. If they don’t follow it, then enforce the consequences in your terms and conditions.
Giving a person you love a break might feel like the right thing to do, but it could also cause other parents to accuse you of offering preferential treatment. It is usually best to avoid this scenario at all costs.
#15. Ask for Money Before Rendering Services
If you need to establish revenue for your home daycare, then ask for people to pay for your services in an upfront structure. You can decide to charge weekly or monthly. This structure will limit the number of times you’re providing free care or dealing with a parent who chooses to skip out on the payments they owe.
#16. Differentiate Your Home Daycare Services
Most home daycares provide a similar service. They watch the kids, offer some activities, and feed them snacks. If you can differentiate your business from the others in your neighborhood, then you’ll have more chances to secure some clients. The fastest way to do this is to take your customer service to the next level.
Sign up with a CRM software service that lets you record calls, track families, and manage your information. Refer to children by name when they come to your home so that they feel special. Then focus on the components of your business that meet the expectations of the parents.
#17. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for a Commitment
Weekly and monthly payment structures are common with home daycare businesses. If you have work families with young children in your neighborhood, then an annual commitment might be possible. You would want to incorporate an escape clause for you and them in case the relationship goes south for some reason, but receiving a guarantee for an entire year can help you to start building your business foundations with greater consistency.
#18. Follow Up on Everything
You will get busy with the administrative tasks of your daycare once all of the kids leave for the day. It is not uncommon to forget to follow up on questions or promises. Make sure that you don’t over-commit to things that will end up costing your business some money. If you know that you don’t have time to pursue referrals, then don’t invest in resources that will create them in the first place.
It helps to take a one-day-at-a-time approach when managing a home daycare, especially in the first days when you start getting used to the new schedule.
#19. Plan to Have One Off-day Each Week
Home daycares are hard work. You will encounter plenty of stress, even if you take proactive steps to minimize problems. That’s why it is essential to have at least one day off planned each week. You need to have time to manage your property and finances.
If the business is slow, then any of the extra days you get off will feel like a bonus when there’s enough money in the coffers to pay the bills.
#20. Don’t Accept Work Outside of Your Business Hours
Instead of being firm on expectations, home daycare providers often meet the needs of parents because they have bills to pay. Don’t give in to requests to open early or stay late. Family emergencies do happen for your clients, so make sure extra charges apply when you do need to go into overtime. If you don’t keep firm boundaries here, then you can burn out a lot faster than you might expect.
If you have not chosen a name for your daycare yet, then you have to check out our list of the greatest daycare names of all-time.
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Tiny Steps Daycare
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