Operating Tips On Caring For Kids - Part 4
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By far the biggest marketing success for kids care centers comes from satisfied customers. In other words, the parents themselves. Word of mouth is the best marketing tool you can have. Some centers have chosen to reward that word-of-mouth by giving parents a 'free week of kids care' coupon when they make a referral who stays with the program for more than 60 days. The cost of one free week is easily made up by the added family.
There are several ways of cost-effectively marketing your center in your community. You can try taking brochures, applications and pamphlets to local businesses to post in the break areas or to be given to prospective or new employees. Some employers are willing to sponsor activities and donate scholarship or conference money for centers that exclusively service their employees.
You can also attempt contacting local television stations to encourage news stories about kids care, and of course, volunteer your center to be involved in any story they might develop. Many local news stations also have relevant community information and resource pages listed on their websites... something in which your center should be included.
Being out and about in the community is also necessary to a good marketing campaign. Make sure people see your kids. Visit senior centers, collect food for pantries, organize a drive for gloves in the winter to donate, etc. There is no such thing as a definitive correct answer in the world of marketing. The requirements and preferences of customers form the ultimate moving target, and a virtually endless cycle of testing is required in order for marketing programs to find the proper and most lucrative formula.
As a kids care center director/owner, you are responsible for operating one of the most challenging business environments in today's economy. Your job involves a delicate balance of relationships and business efficiency, with considerations such as staffing (hiring-retention-termination), parental communication, curricula implementation, children's issues (behavior-health-social) and state requirements. It is the long-range planning budgeting, marketing and community relations that makes the operation run effectively over time. It is the day-to-day operations that keep you on track with those long-range plans and keep your center's quality improving. As winter ends, it may be time to do some spring cleaning of the long-range and even daily details that have gotten swept under the carpet or stashed in the closet.
To inventory your business's performance, take a sheet of paper, put a line down the middle and write "daily" on one side and "long-range" on the other.
Now answer the following Yes or No questions in the "daily" column:
- Is staff morale at your facility low?
- Is fighting between employees frequent?
- Does 50% of your full-time staff have less than one year of experience?
- Do you deal with multiple parent concerns on a daily basis?
- Do you have children in each classroom that are not suitable for group care, yet you keep them because of low enrollment?
- Are you aware of how your center's curriculum is followed each day?
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