Opening the daycare was like opening Pandora's box for me. It came with challenges, scary situations, late nights and early mornings, but it was almost too simple that I've become addicted to start ups. I know - I drank the juice and don't want to give it up. Read about my humble beginnings here.
When I first started out as a daycare provider, other than CPR training, I didn't have any specialized training on early childhood education or how to open a business, and I wouldn't have claimed at the time to be "business saavy". What I did know, was that I had everything within me that needed to make the daycare work. Looking back at how I filled all of my daycare spots before opening my doors, I built a system that I still use today. Most of it consists of rolling up my sleeves and getting to work - even if those things aren't especially comfortable, fun, or glamorous. Seriously, I was in my third trimester. Check it out here. If you're looking to open your own daycare, just starting a business from home, or struggling to grow your business and you want enough clients to meet your financial obligations and reach your revenue goals, this one's for you.
5 Things I Did to Fill My Daycare Vacancies Before My Doors Opened:
- I built a website. HTML got you down? Don't code? Don't worry! There are quite a few website builders out there that are way user friendly and super low cost. Once the daycare was put together, I took some photos and put them on my "drag-and-drop" website template, bought a domain, and shared it everywhere I could.
- Listed my daycare on all of the local, free website listings in my neighborhood, city and even in surrounding areas like ebay classifieds, adpost, US Free Ads, and let's not forget Craigslist. There are so many more! Look for the ones in your local area and neighborhoods. Today, our community has their own Facebook page and guess what, so does the community less than 10 minutes away. Find these free sites and USE THEM ALL!! By doing so, when someone does a general Google specific search like, "daycare in Chula Vista" or whatever neighborhood you're in, you'll have a higher chance of being found.
- I went door-to-door. Yep, you better believe it. I made 100 company magnets by using free business cards from VistaPrint, buying self-adhesive business-card-size magnets from Walmart, printed some flyers, used Glue Dots to stick the magnets to the flyers and I dropped one off at each doorstep in my neighborhood. Know why I went with magnets? There's a plumbing company and realtor who drops one off at our house each year, and each year, we replace the old one and put it on our fridge "just in case". I got about 5 or 6 calls within the week just from those magnets. Over the next two years, I got maybe 5 or 6 more inquiries. I only did this once.
- I owned it. Sometimes first time entrepreneurs get "shy" about what their doing or get this feeling of being "salesy" or "spammy". If you are going through this, you need to get over it quickly otherwise, you won't get too far in this journey. You need to own your business. I took a look at my network and picked a few ideal people to announce my business to - they're the ones who lived in my area, who had kids or knew people who might need my service, along with my inner network of friends and family. Once my website was live, I sent an email to said people with a link to my website. The email said something like, "I'm SO excited to share with you that I'm opening a small license daycare in my home in August! This will allow me to stay home with the kids and make a supplemental income. We would totally appreciate it if you kept me in mind when you or someone you know is looking for childcare in my area. Here's the link to my website showing the programs we will offer. Feel free to share it with others. Thank you so much in advance!" How spammy is that? I don't talk in "business talk" and I'm a bottom liner, so this works for me.
- I booked tours like there's no tomorrow. With each inquiry, my goal was to book them to tour my house, I mean daycare. I would give basic information over-the-phone like rates, the curriculum planned, programs in place; any other question asked after that, I would simply answer with, "You know, that's a great question, do you want to come check us out? I would love to show you around and answer any more questions you have - are you available today or tomorrow?". I would get some no shows or cancellations - that's normal. I had 20 people who didn't show up to my wedding, no shows just happens. What matters is that I had my A Game on when people did show up and all I needed were 8 kids. I showed them everything! Not just the daycare areas, but even my bedroom and garage. This is my hand people, no poker face here. No weird rooms. Everything is clean. Everything is safe. And it worked!
So there it is my friends. My very first strategies for getting paying clients consisted of free ad posts, dropping off flyers, showing my house and telling everyone I knew or had kids what I was up to. Obviously, this isn't the most sophisticated marketing strategy in the world, but the basic foundation is classic. Ultimately, to get clients, you absolutely must put yourself out there and tell people about your business. Think about it, no one ever made money by keeping their businesses to themselves!
Time to pimp your awesome! You can do it ~ and if you need a push, just hit me up!
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