When it comes to finding ways to simplify running your child care business, industry expert Monique Reynolds says the answer is automating through software.
Monique is the director of ECE Business Support Services at Quality Care for Children. She works with dozens of child care centers to help them achieve a better work-life balance by working smarter, not harder. Her business provides hands-on support to child care centers to help them manage their businesses.
In a webinar sponsored by Procare Solutions called “Ways to Automate to Tackle Your Biggest Child Care Business Challenges,” she outlined how you can save dozens of hours each month by letting software take care of many administrative duties.
What Automating Your Center Can Do
Monique said automation can become your personal assistant.
She defined child care management software as platforms designed to specifically assist child care providers in automating day-to-day operations so staff can have more time with the children in their care.
Automation tools vary, Monique said, but many are digital/online tools that allow child care providers to automate daily business tasks. Such tools save centers time, money and help run their business more efficiently.
She gave the following list of what automation can do for child care centers:
- Reduces administrative efforts to manage data
- Minimize the potential for human errors
- Electronic data can be backed up in the cloud
- Data that is up-to-date and live can be available to appropriate staff
- Monitor the Early Childhood Education Iron Triangle metrics, which are the three core parts of running a child care center — full enrollment, full fee collection and ensuring that revenues cover per-child cost
Using software allows child care centers to track their incomes and expenses as well as collect money easily with online billing and payments. And it gives them a professional-looking portal to help parents pay quickly.
“We are an essential part of our economy and now the world knows it,” Monique said, saying centers need a professional look to solidify that fact.
Automation Saves You Time and Headaches
Automation eases record-keeping, Monique said.
“Automation helps you track that information in one place,” Monique said. Everything is right there in the software and will make your accountant happy, she said.
When it’s time for end-of-the-year tax statements, you don’t have to print out all the forms to distribute to parents.
“Automation will allow parents to go into the system and print it themselves,” she said. Parents also can log into their accounts to see what money is due.
Monique described how much time automated software can save child care providers — between roughly 60 and 80 hours a month.
For instance, she calculated that before automation, doing payroll and other human-resource related tasks would take six to eight hours biweekly. After automation, that time dropped to one to two hours.
With attendance tracking and subsidy reconciliation, that time shrank from 10 hours a week to just 30 minutes.
“We take hours to do payroll and it’s tedious,” Monique said.
Paperless billing allows you to automatically create and email invoices, saving paper and time. It speeds up payments and creates an instant delivery to parents.
Online billing erases the need to fill out deposit slips and take them to the bank, she said, helping you track income and expenses.
“Automation allows it to go right into the bank,” Monique said of tuition payments. It speeds up getting your money to you so you have a regular cash flow.
Automation allows you to track expenses in one place, as well as to manage your finances and prepare your taxes. You can see how much money you’re really spending and can even learn how much each classroom is yielding.
She also said it allows centers to track attendance and see in real time the teacher-to-student ratios by enabling directors to track students checking in and out.
Simplifying Communication with Parents
Automation takes the awkwardness out of speaking to parents about late tuition. Monique said child care providers are patient and empathetic, and love their children and families. That makes it tough to say to parents that because they didn’t make a payment, their child can’t stay at your center.
“Automation takes that off you,” she said. It gives the parent that late-tuition alert so you don’t have to have a difficult face-to-face conversation.
And it can help communicate with parents in fun ways. You can send a message over an app over the weekend to remind them about an event happening that Monday.
You can use an app to keep parents up-to-date on what their kids are doing during the day. Such an app serves another purpose, Monique said, which is growing enrollment. A parent might show a co-worker a picture of their child on the app, making that co-worker want a child care center that offers the same real-time updates.
It also helps manage schedules, which parents are changing due to changes in their schedules as workplaces adapt following the pandemic.
The No. 1 complaint that Monique hears from child care center staff is that management doesn’t properly communicate with them. She said staff say they don’t know about schedule changes, or when they get new students and sometimes have a hard time understanding their paychecks.
Staff also want more feedback and evaluations. Consistent feedback provides good morale, Monique said.
She also said many centers are dealing with staff shortages and sometimes need to use staffing agencies to provide substitute teachers. And tracking how much you’re paying those agencies is time-consuming and difficult.
She said using automation can pinpoint whether staffing schedule changes could help, or whether paying a teacher overtime could alleviate some staffing problems.
“All of these things, you can keep track of with automation,” Monique said.
Who Can Benefit from Automation?
Monique said automation lets you and your staff get back to doing what you love — spending time with children in your care.
And automation isn’t just for large centers. She said it makes sense for smaller child care operations as well.
“All of the systems we’re talking about today apply to you,” she said to those who own small centers. “You are a business owner and you need to work more efficiently.”
And Monique encouraged child care providers to set a date three months from now to take a day off for themselves, whether that’s planning a spa day or a day to spend doing a hobby or an activity with family.
“You are the most valuable asset to your business,” Monique said, and it’s important that you take care of yourself as you put in all the time and effort to make your child care business shine.
When choosing automation software, Monique said finding an all-in-one platform that can cover all your needs is critical. That’s why she recommends Procare Solutions.
She said in her 25 years in the child care industry, she has found that only Procare checks all the boxes.
“I encourage you to look into Procare and do the demos,” Monique said.
Click here if you’d like to listen to Monique’s entire webinar.
Procare is here and ready to help you save time and money with automation. Request a free demo today!