Growing any business presents a challenge. However, having limited resources and finances to grow your business makes that challenge even greater. The childcare sector is feeling the pinch, with providers contending with the delivery of the underfunded 30 hours and the increased costs of consumables and utilities. So, how do you grow your business when resources are stretched?
- Build relationships with others in your sector
Treat every new person you meet as a potential asset to your business in the future. Relationships matter, as you never know what skills or contacts someone may have to help you further down the line. Where do you find these contacts? Try attending meetups and other industry events such as the free one-day conference on early childhood research at Bath Spa University in February 2018. It’s worth following local colleges and universities on social media to keep track of potential opportunities like this.
- Contribute your professional opinion
Share your ideas and opinions about early years, industry trends, or anything which relates to your business. With a world which is dominated by media, there are plenty of opportunities to do this – leaving a comment on a blog or post; sending a letter or email to a magazine whose article you found interesting. You could even start a blog or vlog on your own website and add ideas there! The more ways you get your name out there, the more chances people will be able to find out about your business and what you do.
- Provide something of value to parents
There’s no denying it: everyone loves a freebie. Giving away something for free is an important tool to help you build trust and credibility with new parents. This will eventually lead them to trust you enough to buy your products or services. It doesn’t have to cost you, either! For example, you could offer a free downloadable guide on your website which helps parents get their child into a good bedtime routine. You could also offer a free half day or full day trial at your nursery, with parents supplying all the food and consumables for their child for that day.
- Keep a close eye on your statistics
If you count it, make sure you record it. Storing key information about your business can hold untold value in the future, especially around marketing. Keep track of information such as the source of new enquiries and ask parents why they chose your setting over a competitor’s. You could even record the success rate of certain people doing show rounds with parents. You may have a star ‘seller’ on your team without realising! This person could share their technique with others on your team, to replicate their success rate.
- Find out what others have done to be successful
It’s a simple rule of the universe: you become who and what you surround yourself with. If you surround yourself with 10 rich people, you’ll learn that it’s easy to make money. Whilst it may not be that easy to ‘hang around’ with 10 people who have founded successful nursery chains or groups, the next best thing would be to follow them on social media. One example is Cheryl Hadland (@Cherylhadland) of Tops Day Nurseries. Tops was founded in 1990 by Cheryl after struggling to find flexible childcare for her own children. The business has grown over the years and now has 19 nurseries in the south of England.
For insights on how to improve your childcare business, you could also follow Allan Presland (@AlPres). Allan is the CEO of Parenta, which is now the UK’s largest supplier of services to the early years sector. He published a book about his experiences of the early year sector called “Improving the business of childcare”.
- Show your value to others
Don’t just think about how others can be useful to your business. Ask yourself how you can also forge a connection and be an asset to others’ businesses. Remind yourself that every contact is valuable. If you dedicate time to help people willingly, they’re much more likely to return the favour. Helping others is the best way to deposit in the ‘favours’ bank so those people can help you in the future.
Once you’ve decided to invest some time into growing your business, be patient and give your chosen course of action time to yield results before you try another strategy. They say Rome wasn’t built in a day and, likewise, you’re not going to see a huge spike in enquiries overnight once you start to make changes. Remember: slowly, slowly catchy monkey!