Rapid MBA for Childcare Center Owners
Learn to make data-driven, expert-led decisions to improve your business. Knowledge is power. This is a well-worn adage in many areas of life, but successful business owners know that consistent growth comes from the actions you take off the insights you glean through the constant monitoring of your business’s performance.
Learn to make data-driven, expert-led decisions to improve your business
Knowledge is power. This is a well-worn adage in many areas of life, but successful business owners know that consistent growth comes from the actions you take off the insights you glean through the constant monitoring of your business’s performance. This kind of knowledge, when intentionally collected, organized and analyzed, is also known as data. You might not think of childcare as a data-driven business, but to ignore the power of data-driven decision-making is to miss high-probability opportunities to increase profits, efficiencies and quality.
Your goal is to assemble within your organization’s management the information you need to be an expert on everything that is going on in your childcare operation. Pursuing expertise in your business will better equip you to make decisions that support your long-term growth and profitability. If this sounds complicated, it doesn’t have to be. In many cases, a data-driven approach to running your childcare center simply means adopt the following mindset: There’s a systematic way to track and analyze everything that is going on in your building.
This article will give you actionable ideas you can use immediately to better understand the daily operations of your business, and the expertise to use that information to make decisions that will lead to more profits, happier employees and a higher-quality experience for your students and families.
We call it a “Rapid MBA” for childcare center operators.
Lesson 1: TIME
Know the value of time—yours, your students’ and your staff’s.
In a daycare center, time is gold. It’s the key resource in which you are trading. Childcare centers purchase time from their teachers, and they sell time, in the form of available slots in classrooms, to parents for the care of their children. Time should never be wasted in a childcare center, and that requires a new outlook from three perspectives.
Protect the manager’s time and preserve it for the most critical tasks.
If your business is going to thrive, you as a manager or director need to be free to do the high-level work that will yield growth. Tasks like returning calls from prospective parents, marketing the business, recruiting quality teachers and analyzing enrollment trends are critical to business growth. But they won’t happen if you are too busy filling in for teachers who are out, giving bathroom breaks, and constantly responding to things that are urgent but not necessarily of top importance.
Step one is to know as much as you can about how you invest your time and how long certain tasks take. The best way to gather this data is to track your time for a week or so. You can do this with simple written notes, or use an Excel spreadsheet to assign categories by the half-hour. Once you’ve gathered this data, ask questions, like:
What activities prevent me from performing the most important tasks for growing my business?
What tasks can I delegate to other staff members?
What important activities am I missing?
What non-critical items should I eliminate from my to-do list?
Now that you’ve begun to analyze the way you spend your time with a focus on priorities, you can turn that fresh perspective toward the way you allocate staff time.
Identify ways that you can use staff time to improve your center’s efficiency.
When you start to look at delegating tasks to free up your time as a manager, one of the first areas you’ll need to examine is how you schedule your teachers and other staff. The key here is to think beyond your ratios.
Taking over a classroom so that the teacher can take bathroom breaks is a necessary part of the daycare day. Too often, it sucks up the director’s time. What if you scheduled a teacher to come in 15 minutes early to start a rotation of relieving teachers? This could take care of breaks with your existing staff without eating into your time for tasks that will grow your enrollment and revenue.
Another example of a task that doesn’t have to fall to the manager is supply room inventory. What if you were to create a checklist and train your employees to take inventory? You would be able to maintain your supply stock without emergency trips to the store, while freeing up time to focus on priorities. As a bonus, you would demonstrate to your employees that you trust them to take on more responsibility and play a role in keeping the business running smoothly.
Building an environment where delegation is possible requires setting the right tone from day one with your employees. Understand their skillsets and know which tasks they would welcome during downtime, as well as which tasks might overwhelm them. Provide training so they feel confident doing things like taking inventory, double-checking licensing requirements and giving parent tours. Because you are ultimately responsible for what goes on in your building, it can be hard to hand off tasks to others. Try to shed that mindset as you build quality training that can empower your staff to play a role in optimizing your business operations—a goal that benefits everyone in the building.
Karen Inman, general manager for Callahan Learning Centers, has had to learn this lesson in her own career. “A common mentality for directors is that everything is on your shoulders,” she said. “Bu