When it comes to helping owners of child care centers manage their businesses, Andrea Dickerson is proud of her no-nonsense approach.
“I have to give it to you as real as I can so you can make it happen,” she told attendees of her webinar sponsored by Procare Solutions in which she listed several reasons why child care businesses are thriving with systems for operation and management.
Andrea is the founder and chief executive officer of iownadaycare.com, an organization committed to empowering and equipping child care business owners with proven management solutions to systemize, organize and maximize their business and their lives.
She specializes in helping her clients and students set up the right systems to help increase parent enrollment, hire the right staff, organize their business and develop their own proprietary systems.
Your employees come and go, Andrea says. But the systems you put in place stay and will lead to your success.
Let’s take a look at some strategies she offered and answers to questions submitted by webinar attendees!
“The way we think and the way we behave cause us to hinder our success,” said Andrea, who has worked with child care businesses for more than a decade and is an owner herself.
Making an honest assessment of those roadblocks is key to putting systems in place to keep them from preventing your business from flourishing, and to making you unhappy.
Some examples she gave included holding resentment against an employee or assuming something is wrong with an employee who quits.
She also cited being ungrateful or disrespectful as traits that will hold you back.
Renewing Your Mind and Organizing Recurring Tasks
Make sure that you renew your mind daily and are devoted to your vision for your child care business.
“You need a vision and visionaries do what it takes by any means necessary,” Andrea said.
Think about everything that you and your staff need to do on a weekly, monthly and daily basis. Andrea creates a weekly recurring task list for her team and says every team should have this task system. That includes your administrative team, your director, assistant director and office manager.
And you, as the chief executive officer of your business, need one as well to ensure that all tasks are completed.
“Everyone should have a guide,” she said. (Check the last section of this blog for an example Andrea shared of such a task list!)
Creating a Rhythm and Flow
“Your productivity comes from your systems,” Andrea said, stressing that upholding those systems is a lifestyle.
And those systems remain, even when employees come and go.
One way to put systems in place is through identifying the rhythm and flow of your child care center.
Giving staff a checklist of tasks to complete is a mistake if that list isn’t based on rhythm and flow, Andrea said.
She said checklists should be based on a daily classroom schedule — and that means implementing a system, versus checking off a box on a list.
Andrea instructs teachers on aspects including what to do upon arrival, before circle time and before lunch.
“I’m going through a checklist to teach them rhythm and flow,” she said, because the list coincides with the classroom’s daily schedule.
Let’s Answer Some Questions!
Click here to listen to the entire webinar. And Andrea responded by email to some follow-up questions.
What are effective recruitment and onboarding systems?
Here are a few systems for recruitment:
- Identify the responsibilities of the person in charge of recruiting.
- Create a “job scorecard” for that role so that you have the indicators set for the roles or positions you’re recruiting to fill.
- Set your recruit-to-hire timelines. You need these timelines to set how-to systems for the candidate’s journey and touch points. The clearer your timelines are, the faster you and your team can make decisions.
For onboarding, the process can vary based on your processes and expectations for classroom management. I use a weekly training system for onboarding, with each week detailing a new classroom expectation to achieve. These expectations coincide with your employee evaluation as well.
You’re going to need tools to help you accomplish orientation, such as pre-recorded videos and guides to allow staff to learn without you repeating yourself time after time.
I feel like I have to hound staff and constantly police them to get training complete. Any suggestions?
The problem that you’re having is you’re missing touch points along the journey. Give your staff onboarding time in their schedules to remove the false expectation of them doing it alone and on their own time.
What would you suggest for creating a system for recruiting staff, especially staff with experience and an ECE degree?
Now that you’ve identified your target audience, the next step is creating marketing messages that appeal to your dream target audience (ECE Teachers). More than likely, they are employed and interviewing during conventional times is difficult. Therefore, your recruiting systems need to accommodate ECE teachers who are currently working but looking for an opportunity. Weekends are a great way to attract that audience and so are fun weekend job fairs. These aren’t necessarily systems, but recruiting is a form of marketing and this is how I would approach attracting ECE staff with degrees.
What are some sample daily, weekly and monthly task systems?
I create systems for task based on three pillars:
- Rules and regulations (any part of your company that requires inspections and expectations to be meet and verified by another agency)
- Recurring tasks (tasks that happen in your child care center regardless of whatever else happens)
- Office operations
Here’s an example of how to manage your Monday:
- Distribute teacher daily sheet handouts
- Check calendar and forward staff their weekly reminders
- Add new students and print sign-in sheets for the week
- File transportation papers that arrived Friday
- Update visitor logs and time sheets
- Do the kitchen roster sheets every morning to ensure the counts match
- Update food program roster and add new children
- Prepare Lunch between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m.
- Do collection calls for all clients owing less than $100 by noon
- Check sign-in and sign-out sheets for signatures before buses run
Andrea also said she used to wait until the end of the month to process her paperwork for her food program, a task that ate into her weekend. So she added a daily task of doing headcounts and menu management so the monthly task wasn’t as overwhelming.
What are some effective ways to retain staff?
Retaining staff is effective once you’ve got engagement and buy-in.
Here are a few strategies:
- Make improvements to your staff onboarding process
- Add “quick win” checkpoints to your onboarding process
- Provide staff with a roadmap that helps them navigate and consume your growth standards
- Provide a staff checklist to help people find where to start during your orientation
- Conduct a survey of existing staff to find out what they want and how they’re interacting with your business
- Referral process and staff helping to recruit
- Provide the ability for staff to pause their employment or switch their employment status
- Create an operation calendar and share it with your staff so that they know what’s coming up
- Add drip-fed or series-based training to your staff through email
- Provide resources to your staff that they would miss if they left for another job
- Add a “share your successes” section or thread within your community or bulletin board
- Add a progress log or staff accountability section or thread within your online training
- Provide a growth track
How Procare Can Help!
Don’t forget to subscribe to Procare’s The Child Care Business Podcast and please join us for our final monthly webinar of the Thrive in 2021 series, in which Audra Wilson Russell of WATS CPA will give you tips on how to get your child care center ready for tax season.
Audra will explain what areas of your financial statements to review and correct, as well as how to review your profit and loss statement for reasonability and discover the nuances on your balance sheet that could prevent the filing of an accurate tax return.
That webinar is at 1 p.m. ET on Nov. 17. Register here to attend and keep an eye out for more webinars coming next year!
If you’re a center not yet using Procare, we are here to answer questions to help you manage your business more effectively.
Procare takes the complexity out of running a child care center with solutions that address every facet of your business, including automated payment processing, ratio tracking, staff management as well as billing and invoicing.
Track each family’s balance including their history of registration fees, tuition charges, family discounts and payments received. Calculate tuition charges, supply and activity fees plus co-payments and family discounts in seconds for easy billing.
You can also simply manage hourly billing, overtime and late pickup fees with ease.
Request a free demo today!