Re-Inventing Your Childcare Program When Reality Hijacks Your Plan
When obstacles come at us full force in our child care centers we must learn to PIVOT!
The reality of COVID has caused all of child care to experience a serious wake up call. We are finding ourselves pondering whether to succumb to defeat or pivot and thrive.
When we make the decision to pivot, we commit to a significant business change. This change can range from mild to dramatic, and when done right, will help our businesses recover from this tough period.
The positive of a change such as this is we have been forced to be more innovative than our industry has ever experienced. Because of the obstacles and roadblocks brought on by COVID-19, we are doing new things in the childcare industry that we have never done before.
How can you let go of “what was” and embrace “what could be” and evolve with the times?
Grieve the loss. Take time to get over shock of the change or situation that is occurring. Digest it. Catch your breath and give yourself a break.
Remember your bigger purpose. Think back to the WHY behind why you do what you do? What has been the mission and purpose behind why you started in child care in the first place?
Know your customer. Understand your customer and know their top pain points. Invent solutions to meet help reduce those pains.
Evaluate. Review your financials, operations and processes. Look at ways to scale back and survive: this can include reviewing & cancelling expenses, staffing, and other items we can delay temporarily. Plus, as equally important, look for ways to generate new revenue: Get innovative and come up with new programs, products and partnerships.
Get support! Reach out for encouragement and collaboration. Don’t go through this time alone. Build relationships, collaborate with others in the industry and find a strategic partner.
Learn. Keep a pulse on what is going on in the industry. Follow other centers to see what is working. Follow strong businesses that are great examples of innovation and trends. LinkedIn is a great tool for doing this.
FAIL. Try one change at a time and be ready to fail forward if it doesn’t work. This requires flexibility and resilience. Try, if you fail, learn from it, adjust fire, try again.
Faith & Intention. Keep God at the center of all you do.
Flexibility. As we know with COVID, planning day-to-day is difficult but there are a few things you can do. Ensure you diligently save cash flow and that you establish a solid team around you. The rest that comes at us, we must learn to be flexible and resilient while understanding we can get back on course if knocked off.
Unplug. Find time to get balance in your life. Enjoy family, the outdoors, friends, and laugh as much as you can.
Real ways to pivot through this reality hijack
School Age Support. Help keep learning on track for our schoolagers by providing in person support for families experiencing virtual school.
- Find space in your center or in your community if you have enough demand
- Help facilitate learning in small groups
- Provide extras to families such as end of day progress reports
- Highlight COVID practices, meals and snacks, outdoor and activity time, wrap around care
Tours. Gone are the days of offering only in person tours. Now we have a couple options to make tours more interesting and COVID friendly.
- Conduct a live virtual tour by face-timing your prospect
- Forward a video of a pre-recorded tour to your prospect
- In person “touchless” tours; allow families to follow a specific tour route in your center without touching anything including not stepping into the classroom
Employer Solutions. Build relationships with other businesses in your community to see what type of childcare they may have especially if the schools in your community are not opening.
- Consider providing alternative “temporary” classrooms onsite to help facilitate school age learning during this time
- Encourage employer tuition subsidies
- Tuition discount programs paid by the employer
- Provide contingency solutions where employers can secure spaces in your center to ensure their employees have care when they need it
Creative Scheduling. Consider FLEX hours or ESSENTIAL hours for families to enroll.
- Consider two or four hour blocks of time a few days a week
- Offer Drop in care for families that may only need random assistance
Family Communication. With teachers not meeting families face to face daily, we must still find ways (outside of communication apps) to discuss their children.
- Consider face-timing/video chatting weekly with families
- Display an outdoor video unit
- Outdoor video to capture the artwork posted within the center, to spotlight teachers. Since parents aren’t’ walking through the centers
- Offer weekly virtual parent group nights so you can meet up as a group and talk through relevant topics.
Classroom enhancements. Look beyond the typical classroom we have been accustomed to.
- One-on-one tutor enrichment
- If weather permits, consider enhancing your outdoor classroom experience
Staff appreciation. Innovative in how we show appreciation to staff
- Virtual appreciation cards
- Posters that they are essential Rockstar’s to put in the home or apartment windows
- Clings for their cars
- Innovative social situations such as virtual game nights, virtual training and virtual collaboration opportunities
Be forgiving. Finally, be easy on yourself and your team. The last few months have been some of the hardest we have ever gone through. We had many goals planned for 2020 that are not going to be achievable. If you are a goal driven person this can be hard to swallow.
- Take time to regroup and re-strategize
- Most of all, be forgiving to yourself
Child Care Biz Help Reinvented
Like childcare centers nationwide, Child Care Biz Help has had to make some substantial changes. Here are some areas we have reinvented and that can affect you in a positive way.
Product and Service Revisions. We modified some services and created new products to meet today’s needs of childcare owners. Here are some things we are doing:
- Identify current paint points: limited cash flow, fears, reduced enrollment, staffing needs
- Provide training based on those paint points: Marketing and enrollment training, creating raving fans, P.R.O.F.I.T.S. Child Care Success Formula
- Offer Ala Carte childcare consulting services that provide more intentional services instead of our Another You 6 or 12 month packages
- Create a new product to encourage our center directors: – director subscription boxes to help uplift our directors at an economical price
- Organize a conference alternative: Since conferences are either being cancelled or going virtual, we created an alternative. Our NAVIGATE child care retreat is an in person intimate luxury experience for child care owners. Two homes on the ocean have been reserved for like-minded professionals to strategize together and grow from each other’s experiences.
Emotional/Spiritual Support. A foundation of faith is a core value of our company. To live this value, we started a prayer group specifically focused on childcare businesses, owners, staff, vendors, and our community. This prayer group meets weekly virtually every Tuesday at 9 a.m. Eastern.
Let’s finish this 2020 strong, unified and confident!
To learn more about these strategies along with other industry pivot strategies, sign up for the Association for Early Learning Leaders Conference Session on Thursday September 24th. The entire time we are just going to talk about real solutions you can immediately use.