Deciding to expand your daycare business is huge. No matter how successful your current enterprise is, it takes courage and nerves of steel to take that next step.
But, as every successful entrepreneur knows (and every unsuccessful one wishes they’d known!), growing a business also takes careful and thorough planning, a close eye on the detail and an unemotional focus on the facts.
Here are seven steps that you can take in preparation for the expansion of your daycare business:
Do a business plan
You may have a gut feeling that the time is right to upscale your business, but instinct isn’t enough. You need a comprehensive business plan which includes a thorough overview of your current operation (such as costs, revenues and profitability, current enrollments, community demand etc) and a detailed roadmap for expansion from a financial, operational, regulatory and marketing perspective.
Your plan should define your objectives for your proposed expansion and give a detailed breakdown on how you will achieve those goals.
Do some research
You’ve probably already got a clear idea of community demand for a new daycare centre – for example, you may have a long waiting list, anecdotal evidence from parents etc – but it’s worth digging a little deeper and doing some research. Chat to your local government representative, talk to real estate agents about the suburb’s demographics, property growth in the area (proposed sub divisions and housing developments etc) and check out how many child care facilities are already in the area (if it’s going to be different from the one you currently operate in).
Your investigation process will also help you determine what type of expansion is best for your business. Is there demand for additional age groups? Do families need extended hours of child-care? Do you have the space in your existing facility to accommodate an expansion or do you need a brand-new set-up?
Find new premises
This is a major step and you will need to investigate all avenues (purchasing a building, leasing a property, zoning laws, local regulations etc) and do the finances very carefully. Location is obviously key.
You know already that the quality of your staff is paramount to success. Professionally trained educators who are compassionate, caring, inclusive and welcoming are the heart of your business and they represent your ‘brand’ – and so you will need to make sure that you can attract the right calibre of staff for your expanded business.
If you are currently heavily involved in the operational affairs of your centre, you will need to consider how you will spread yourself around when you expand. Can you rely on your existing staff to step-up or will you need to employ additional resources at your current premises?
Staff training is another consideration. Do you require any specific skills from your educators? For example, if you run a Reggio Emilia-inspired early education centre, do you insist that your staff have previous experience with this philosophy or will you provide additional training?
Systems and procedures
Your established systems and procedures are probably a key reason for the success of your existing business, so you will need to draw up clear guidelines for your new premises.
Room set-up and resources
Expanding your childcare business gives you a blank canvas for setting up your room and outdoor area. You’ll know what works well and can design your spaces and invest in resources that will set your business apart from the competition.
A well-defined marketing strategy is crucial.
You should use a mix of channels such as traditional media (eg an article in your local community newspaper), paid advertising, printed posters on noticeboards at local shopping centres, sporting complexes and libraries etc as well as digital communications.
An active online presence is also crucial. Facebook, Instagram and other social media channels should be included in your marketing strategy and you need to ensure that your website is set-up properly and updated to include the new information.
Word-of-mouth referrals from current and past families, your existing and past parents will also be a powerful way of spreading the word about your new premises.