Operating Tips On Caring For Kids - Part 6
Once you have decided to begin the removal process, it is important to have a realistic time frame (2-4 weeks) in which the family can work. Contact your local referral agency for a list of licensed kids care options. If a child has experienced a difficult time coping in your center, he or she will probably have a similar experience in a different large group setting, so look for home-care options. This plan of action will also allow staff and parents to gain confidence in your professional approach.
Now look at your long-range planning. The key to your success in this area is to be at least three to six months ahead in each long-range category. When looking at your budget, don't cut the meat cut the fat. Look at your monthly expenses that are negotiable (garbage pick-up, foods, paper products, educational consumables, maintenance) and spend time finding the best deals. If you cut 10-20% off of a $100,000 non-fixed budget, you save $10,000-$20,000 a year. There are always providers that want to save you money to gain your business. However, these deals take phone time, patience and persistence but take the time to do it. If you own your building, this may be the perfect time to refinance. If you are renting in a storefront, try to negotiate the lease price down when your lease expires.
Also, have you asked yourself if you are charging the right price for tuition? Your rates need to be changed each year to balance the increases in your payroll and other expenses. A 4-5% increase in tuition will not scare off many families. However, if you are raising rates multiple times each year or are implementing increases in the double figures, families tend to feel the change more than if it is done gradually. If you must raise tuition into the double-digits, you need to justify to parents why this increase is necessary. If you are raising rates because of low enrollment, your hope to make up lost dollars may be a lost cause. Instead, work on filling your classrooms by developing a solid curriculum and focus on retaining key staff to execute the programs. This is very important because a weak program and constant staff turnover will cost you enrollment in the long run. Your center will develop a bad reputation from negative word-of-mouth (or no word-of-mouth) in the community.
Use a rate increase and the money you save from any non-fixed re-negotiation primarily for key staff member retention. This is the best place to put that portion of your budget. Parents don't mind an increase if they can see their money going to retain positive caregivers.
Another point to address is your center's reputation in your town. Effective marketing is also one of the most overlooked aspects of center management. Costly high-priced advertisements are not necessary and really do not bring in the long-term enrollment. The only exception to this rule is phonebook advertising, which is costly, but essential. All other forms of media advertising (radio, newspaper, magazine) are not necessary to fill up your school.
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