Kids Allowed – Nursery Chain of the Year 2010- owner Jennie Johnson is celebrating twice over this month, opening a new setting in Macclesfield and being awarded the title ‘Inspiring Women in Business.’
Jennie Johnson has become known as a nursery boss who has broken new ground in the sector by offering a range of services for time-starved parents – as well as children – including laundry and dry-cleaning.
But the 39-year-old, who has three daughters, says the most important factor in her success is team-building.
Jennie set up Kids Allowed eight years ago after failing to find a nursery she was happy with.
She said: “I have learned that, as great and as fabulous as our facilities might be, it’s all about the team, and you have to put most of your effort into the team to ensure that you are delivering a five-star service to customers.
“I didn’t really take that on board eight years ago when I started, but I do now and it’s vital.
“We thrive to make Kids Allowed an excellent place to work. For example, we provide food so that staff can have breakfast, lunch and tea on us.
“You can’t sit in an ivory tower, you have to be part of the team and listen. Listening to parents is so important. And listening to the team is equally crucial.”
Turnover for the year to last September was £4.8m and the new Macclesfield centre is expected to boost revenues to £5.5m.
The £2.8m centre, at the old hospital site in Macclesfield, will create 75 new jobs – equivalent to 45 full-time roles – over the next 12 months and has the capacity to welcome 160 children, aged from three months, every week.
Jennie started out at 16 in the post room of an IT firm and rose to director, but left the well-paid job after being fired-up by what she thought was the lack of flexible, professional childcare provision.
She said: “I wanted a nursery that was clean, happy and inspiring but it was Hobson’s Choice. I was totally dissatisfied with what was available.
“I was earning a really good wage in my previous job and it was 18 months before I could claim any salary after launching Kids Allowed but I was so passionate about it – I still am.”
As well as nursery provision, parents are offered a ‘wraparound’ service for school children up to the age of 10.
Judges at the 19th Inspiring Women Awards, which took place at the Midland Hotel, Manchester, last Friday, and which receives nominations from all over the north west, awarded Jennie the coveted business prize for her vision, commercial acumen and success at building a winning team, which has grown to over 200 full and part-time staff. Runners-up in the category were Carolyn Mellor of Homes4U and East Lancashire funeral director Lianna Champ.
A full-time nursery place at Kids Allowed costs £230 a week, which Jennie acknowledges is expensive but says the group delivers value for money.
“Running nurseries like ours with a one-to-three ratio is incredibly expensive and we do believe we are giving parents value for money.
“No business can get it right every time so we aim to have an honest relationship with parents and encourage them to complain about any little niggles they may have. They’re entrusting us to look after the most precious little people in their lives and it is our job to reassure them and to make sure their children are happy.”
Well done to Jennie Johnson and the team at Kids Allowed on their recent achievements. More information can be found on the Kids Allowed website.