Portico Lodge - Nursery SettingInnovative online software provides the ideal solution

Intro: Portico Day Nurseries used to keep their data on one computer, on site, but found it too demanding and extremely inconvenient accessing and transferring data between nurseries.

A cost-effective and time-saving solution was Abacus, the market-leading online system accessible from anywhere with internet connection. This helped remove hidden costs from their previous process and provided secure, immediate access to their data from anywhere.

Overview: Portico Day Nurseries Ltd is owned by brother and sister, Nicole Politis and Craig Jackson. Founded in October 2002, Portico Day Nursery has grown from being a single setting to now consist of five nurseries in the north-west.

Growing at a rate of one nursery a year for the last 5 years, Portico has a turnover in the region of 1.5 million per annum; employing 61 staff and has around 350 children on the registers at any one time.

Their ethos, “Every child is unique”, supports their dedicated approach to providing affordable good quality childcare in a homely environment. The two owners remain very hands on and see the company as a growing family of staff and children.

Director Craig Jackson feels it is essential that all associated with the nurseries feel welcome,“We want a relaxed yet professional atmosphere where people enjoy coming to work, children enjoy coming to play and parents feel comfortable and confident to leave their children.”

Problem: Their previous nursery software was based on one computer on site making it extremely difficult and inconvenient to access and move data between sites.

A large amount of time was wasted travelling between sites and sorting out various technical issues. Spending time restoring backups when data became corrupt, constant upgrades required, or if a new PC was needed, were all hidden, yet large costs to the business.

After considering setting up a network, they realised that the IT headaches associated with an in-house network wouldn’t justify the investment. This was dismissed completely when Craig discovered Abacus, an online system accessible from anywhere with internet connection, which offers convenience and security of storing data, without the worry of making frequent backups.

Solution: It was clear that Parenta’s forward thinking technology ticked all the boxes for Portico’s requirements. Without needing to worry about the maintenance and added cost of storing data, Abacus allows them to complete their admin stress-free and spend more time providing quality childcare.

Since implementing Abacus, Portico have purchased Parenta’s full portfolio of services to help grow their business. Staff gain qualifications through Parenta Training, they have a business website using one of the template-based designs and their fees are collected from parents via direct-debit using our unique fee collection service.

Portico has expanded from a single setting nursery with a £120,000 turnover to five settings with a turnover of £1,500,000. Despite the large turnover, Portico’s accounting still only functions with two people, Craig as the Finance Director and their Bookkeeper, who works one day a week.

Reflecting on how Parenta’s services have helped his business, Craig said, “Helping us manage debt collection via the Direct Debit system, and the overall time saving from the system, are enormous.

“We have grown to 5 nurseries and I, as finance director, run all our IT and bookkeeping with the help of a book keeper only one day a week. To manage this amount of data – a 1.5 million turnover – with so little accounting staff is a testament alone to the simplicity and time saving of a good system.

“We could not have grown to the size we are without employing someone to look after our IT side. If we had tried to tackle the IT issue ourselves, I believe this extra cost may have been detrimental to our growth. It would have been something we may have avoided and tried to cope without and ultimately lost us opportunities while we wasted time concentrating on areas outside our expertise.”

“We have grown at the rate of one nursery a year for the last 5 years and I would like to grow at a similar rate until I feel we are at the edge of losing the personal touch.” Craig said.

Looking forward, Craig revealed that he is keen to see Abacus developed to coincide with the latest Apple technology. “I hope that Abacus will soon be compatible with Apple computers and that an app will be developed to run on the iPad / iphone.

At Parenta we pride ourselves on exceptional customer relations and this attitude has reflected well on the Portico team.

“I can’t praise the support staff enough! The girls on the phone are always very helpful, happy and polite. I rarely speak to them now days, but when I do it’s never a daunting experience.”

Find out more about Abacus, the award-winning nursery management software, and how we can help significantly reduce the time you spend on childcare administration.

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