As Childcare providers, we’re kinda prepared for sickness within our facilities. However, at some point there’s bound to be a highly contagious something-or-other spreading round your daycare! I wanted to share with you 3 lessons I learned recently after an outbreak, so that you can comeback stronger!
Have you had to deal with a wildfire sickness in your childcare biz yet? If you haven’t yet, read on!
What’s an outbreak?
Kids touch everything. And I mean All. The. Things. They also put lots of things in their mouths! And because of this, highly contagious diseases and infections spread FAST in childcare facilities!
When one kid has something infectious you want to isolate it as quickly as possible before it becomes an outbreak. An outbreak is when two or more cases occur of the same illness. And that happens super fast in daycares where the kids are in close contact.
Our recent outbreak scenario
In my 15 years of running a childcare business I’ve somehow managed to dodge any outbreaks. Even during Covid! So you can imagine my face when a few weeks ago we had an outbreak of Hand, Foot & Mouth…oh no!
We all know and understand that in childcare ownership you will no doubt at some point deal with a highly infectious illness that enters your childcare business. And you can bet your bottom dollar that it has a high potential to be spread to others. So when it hit one of my facilities, I was not surprised at the event but was shocked at the speed at which it spread!
My goal this week is to help you learn a few lessons and navigate through the process a little simpler so that you aren’t coming at this from a clueless perspective. I want to share my tips for a successful comeback after an outbreak!
We had a new child start who came from another day care center. Unknowingly, they brought with them the scary disease Hand Foot and Mouth. I say scary because it was! We’d never had to deal with it before.
Although we’d never had cases of Hand Foot and Mouth spread like this before, we were kind of prepared. We had things on hand, like our emergency plan, to help us deal with it. And we’ve obviously spent the last 18 months being extra vigilant because of Covid-19. But still!!
Once we knew what we were dealing with, we shut down the facility for a few days into the weekend. This allowed the sickness to run its course and for us to do what we needed to do in the center! And we were able to come back fresh on the Monday morning ready for whatever that week was gonna throw at us.
Wanna watch my Monday Moves YouTube instead of reading? Here you go!
We learned a lot during those few days! What a learning curve! Here’s a few of the main lessons from our outbreak…
Lesson 1 – is it time to rethink your intake processes?
Where we are, rules state that clients have a time period of about a month in which their child has to get a physical. Which means that kids start without us knowing if they have a clean bill of health or not. Normally, we have to wait for the paperwork.
But this recent outbreak has made me reconsider this! Moving forward, I want children to have that paperwork before they start. It means I can protect the families we serve already and also my All Star Team!
How does your intake process work? What are your state guidelines? If yours are loose like ours, maybe try making it a bit stricter. It should help you cut down on potential outbreaks.
Lesson 2 – Take a look at your childcare set up
Is there something in your set up that can be changed to prevent the spread? We have lockers for our older kids, but in our facilities for younger children we have open cubbies. And we realized that the toddler cubby area was where Hand Foot and Mouth came in and where it was spread. Little kids touching each others things and the belongings are cross-contaminating. So we’ve now got lockers for our toddlers!
What could you alter in your daycares to slow the spread of infectious diseases? Make sure you’ve looked at cleaning protocols and handwashing routines for kids and grown ups too.
Lesson 3 – Don’t forget the basics!
I know the mornings are super hectic, but don’t let your vigilance slip! Keep your eyes peeled for things other than Covid. We’ve been constantly checking temperatures, but maybe more so than looking for wellness visual signs. And that’s where we can spot signs of other – potentially highly contagious – things like Hand Foot and Mouth.
One thing that helps is asking the kids how they’re doing. They’re so good at telling you exactly how they’re feeling! So you can then quiz parents gently about any symptoms the child’s brought up.
And make sure your team practice your emergency plans on a regular basis to keep everyone on their toes! That way they’re not panicking when something actually happens.
I hope these lessons help you prevent an outbreak in your daycare! Have you got any tips you’d like to share? Please leave them in the comments below!
Want to grow your business and get more involved in the childcare community? Join us for more tips on how to make your childcare business the success it deserves to be! Or if you prefer Instagram, we share ideas and tips there too! We’re an army of childcare professionals who are sharing ninja-sharp skills to transform our businesses into childcare empires! This is Childcare Ownership all Grownup!
I’ll bet my morning coffee that you’ve had several hard conversations to handle in the last month or so. Am I right?! Sometimes it might have been with a member of your team, it might even have been with someone in your family…but what do you do when it’s with a parent?
As a childcare business owner these conversations are not uncommon! You don’t have to have been in business very long before you find yourself in the awkward situation of needing to have an uncomfortable conversation with a parent. It may be something that sounds super simple, but you never know what it could turn into.
Recently I’ve been asked in my Facebook group about how to handle these tricky moments and I thought a blog post might help!
What do you mean by “hard conversations”?
Ok, so these are the conversations that you might freeze up in, or avoid having altogether. You know the ones?! The time a grandma comes to pick up their little one and they are more soaked than a rum cake. Or in winter when a pre-schooler is brought in wearing inappropriate jelly shoes and a sundress, with no coat. Or one of your parents smokes right outside the window, despite the sign you’ve displayed…
These are sometimes what you might describe as “teachable moments”. When the person you’re speaking with might not know what they’re doing or saying is wrong. Often this might be with a new team member or a family who’s new to my day cares. And it’s my job as a professional to set them straight and to help them see things from my perspective.
Other times, a different approach is needed. It’s important to address this because you will find these conversations come up. Ones that you don’t want to tackle but will need to.
What do you do if…
One of the Childcare Ninjas in my Facebook group asked me last week about something quite specific, so I thought I’d also share it here. It illustrates the exact kind of hard conversation many of you might have to have in your role as a childcare business owner. So the question I received was, “Hey Miss Nyckie! What do you do when a parent has come to your center smelling of Marijuana or seems intoxicated, how do I handle these things?”
In a situation like this your first priority is the safety of the child. You need to make sure you protect the child in your care above all else. You’re in “loco parentis”, which means you’re totally responsible in that moment. As a business owner, it all comes back on you.
What you do next matters because what if someone comes back and asks, “Why did you let the child go with a person in that state?”
So here’s how to handle it
In this situation (or others like it) you want to immediately assess:
1. The danger or potential danger of the child (make sure the child is in a safe position).
2. Your own protection as an individual and as a business owner.
3. What options do you have to handle this situation?
Those are a few of the things you must consider in an uncomfortable situation, that could potentially turn into something worse.
The best way to deal with hard conversations it to be ahead of the game! Make sure you’re as prepared as possible so that these conversations are less likely to occur in the first place. I’d advise that you have something in your Parental Contract wording that covers things like this and ensure that all of your parents read and sign off. You can then parrot the information at them when they break the rules they agreed to. It makes your job easier!
Another thing you need to take into consideration is covering yourself. By making sure that you cover all bases, you’re protecting everything you’ve spent time building. After all, this is your business, your livelihood and legacy! You want to protect it as much as possible. Look into insurance thoroughly.
Tips for hard conversations
When these situations crop up, we can easily fall into “I’m the boss” mode. You’re the expert. They’re the parent. You make the rules here. However, as much as an authoritarian manner can be useful occasionally, this can also be like a red rag to a bull.
I recommend that you take a deep breath and try to stay calm. Run through points 1 to 3 above. Try to make sure you have a witness to the conversation. Lay out the law of the land in a respectful and composed way that won’t incite any bad feeling.
I’m going to be talking you more about this sort of difficult circumstance during tonight’s live, so why don’t you join me?
Have you been in an awkward situation before? How did you handle it?
Supporting you is top of my priorities, so head on over and join my free Facebook group, where I help childcare business owners step into their leadership like the ninjas they are! We can do hard things!
We’re an army of childcare professionals who are sharing ninja-sharp skills to transform our businesses into childcare empires! This is Childcare Ownership all Grownup! Interested in becoming more involved in the community and to grow your business? Join us for more tips on how to make your childcare business the success it deserves to be! Or if you prefer Instagram, we share ideas and tips there too!
Running a childcare business is hard. It can be super fun, and of course you’re passionate and adore the families you work with. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t elements that are challenging and that you won’t face difficulties from time to time. And doing that alone is tough. So I wanted to share my top reasons for ensuring you get support in your childcare business.
I can’t stress enough how important it’s been for me to have support while I’ve been growing my daycare centers. It’s all part of my Ninja mindset and I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without it.
1. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness!!
Support can help move you towards the success you’re looking for but I know how hard it can be to even ask for that help in the first place. In the back of your mind, you’re thinking “I shouldn’t need help. It’s MY childcare business. Why can’t I do this by myself? I bet no one else has to ask for support. Urgh I’m such a failure.” So firstly, let me start by saying: WRONG! You SHOULD need help. I don’t know one single person running a successful business — childcare or not! — who’s done that all by themselves!
Needing support is certainly not a sign of weakness or signalling to the world that you’ve not a clue what you’re doing, it’s actually a sign of intelligence. Taking a moment to realize which areas you need a little help in or perhaps developing a better understanding, is not weak. If you ask me, I believe it shows your strength as a leader and as a role model.
I know that feeling well though, and it all stems from worrying what others might think of you. However, when you break that down, who are these people you’re worried about? Are they brave enough to follow their passions and set up a childcare and take a leap into running their own business? Nope. The people who criticize or judge others are often the people wishing they had the guts to do what you’re doing. So don’t let the fear of what people will think (or what you think people will think) hold you back from getting the support you need to grow your childcare business.
2. Get support sooner rather than later
Acknowledging the areas you need support in early in the game will help you move towards your goals much faster, because you’ve then removed those fears. Think strategically about what you want help with, and get a feel for the kind of support you want in that arena. Do you want to grow a network of other childcare leaders? Or perhaps you need support with tech and systems? Maybe you could do with some more confidence, and a coach could support you in that? The sooner you start investigating what it is you need and how you’ll get it, the better.
When you’re willing to go and seek out the support you need, you’ll get the success that you want at a quicker pace! I wish that I’d been less cautious of getting the help I needed. I think I’d have grown my business faster. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn’t it!? But actually – even though the way I’ve done things might not have got me there as fast – it was right for me at the time. I try not to be too hard on myself.
But take it from me, things begin to go smoother and at a more rapid pace when you’ve got the support around you! Don’t wait till you feel ready. Do it now!
3. Don’t go it alone!
Finally, it’s not just about learning, it’s about having people to lean on when things get tricky. Whenever I’ve come up against a challenge, it’s been a huge relief to be able to call upon my network and say, “hey, I was wondering if any of you felt like this too?” And knowing you’re not alone is not to be underestimated! That emotional support is vital for keeping you at the top of your game. Sometimes our life partners aren’t enough for the pep talks. What we need is people who’ve been there, done that and bought the t-shirt, OR empathetic cheerleaders who just get it! They get exactly what you’re going through.
Having a support network helped my business flourish. And it made me realise that there were also toxic “friendships” that I needed to be rid of too. Surround yourself with people who’ll support you to achieve your dreams, not ones who question your every move, trying to keep you small. Dream big, baby girl. You’re a childcare ninja, after all!!
Furthermore, it’s not just a sisterhood of other marvellous women you need on your side, I’d highly recommend investing in support too. Getting a mentor or coach and having a place to go and ask questions is key to growing your childcare business. After working with a coach myself, my whole mindset changed. I was able to see the bigger picture, and really work on my goals and my vision. Since I made that choice, I have sky-rocketed my business! Imagine what you could achieve!
“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” Oprah Winfrey
Have you got a support network? Why don’t you share this with them and show them how much you appreciate them!?
If you don’t have one yet, come and say hi in our Ninja community on Facebook! We’re an army of childcare professionals who are sharing ninja-sharp skills to transform our businesses into childcare empires! This is Childcare Ownership all Grownup! Interested in becoming more involved in the community and to grow your business? Join us for more tips on how to make your childcare business the success it deserves to be! Or if you prefer Instagram, we share ideas and tips there too!
It’s Marketing Week here at Childcare Ninjas HQ and in my community we’re sharing our ideas and experience. As such, I wanted to take this time to encourage you to make your childcare business marketing more simple. In this blog post, I’m going to reveal some steps you can take that will reduce the stress that marketing often brings! I want to help you in making marketing easy!
I’ve heard new childcare business owners talking about how they complicated their marketing is. So I want to tell you it doesn’t have to be! Read on to find out how…
1. Keep your marketing simple
As childcare business owners, it’s very tempting to try to be in all the places, all the time. But I need you to hear me on this one: you cannot be everywhere AND do a good job at marketing. Not without spending a fortune and hiring someone (which you can eventually, just maybe not right now?).
Spreading yourself too thin is a common mistake that new childcare bosses make, and I want you to know that actually it’s much more effective to focus your energy and time on one or two platforms, rather than trying to juggle four or five of them! If you know that your families hang out on Facebook, then that is where you should be targeting. Whereas if you’ve got a younger client base, perhaps TikTok is where you could focus your energies.
And it’s not just about social media, printing posters and putting them up in local facilities can get you lots of leads too. Read this blog to give you more ideas. But, try to keep it simple: Don’t try to be everywhere! Do a couple of things really well!!
2. Budget for your marketing
This one is a bit of a no brainer, but if you’re new to childcare ownership is can also feel totally alien. When it comes to marketing, you need to figure out a budget that works for you and your business. It’s vital that you know your budget and can find ways to market your business in a cost effective manner.
After you’ve paid your staff, yourself, and all the bills for your business, what have you got left in your budget? Think about what can you specifically allocate to marketing and still allow a buffer for emergencies. When you’ve worked out your monthly budget, you can work out how you’re going to spend it. Will you be putting money into publishing a local magazine advertisement, paying for social media ads or going old school?
It’s also key that you can look at something you’ve marketed and work out what the return on investment (ROI) was. For example, if you put $50 into some 500 flyers for the local area, how many new clients got in touch – 5? That’s $10 per lead. How can you improve that?
3. Plan your marketing
Putting a plan in place means that any marketing you do will be more likely to have an impact. It will give you a clear map of how you want to market your childcare business and also act as a compass for the purpose and direction of your marketing. Without a plan, you’re just shouting ineffectively into the wind and it’s a waste of your time and energy!
So make a plan. What are you marketing? To whom? Why? Where will you market it? How? When? Don’t be afraid to break it down into bitesize chunks so it feels more manageable. You got this, Ninja!
4. Schedule and implement your plan
Once you’ve laid out your plans, you’re going to have to block out the time you need to take action. Set yourself some deadlines, and start to put together a timeline. Where are you going to start? What is your sales funnel leading them towards?
If you can automate and schedule your marketing content, I’d highly recommend doing so! Since I began using systems and scheduling software for my marketing, I’ve managed to claw back some precious time and can focus on the things I love doing – which is supporting childcare business owners to become ninjas in what they do! Oh and of course, being a childcare boss myself and looking out for my team and the families we serve.
So I encourage you to get focused on what you need to do and when and make it as easy as possible by scheduling! And now get implementing! Go, Ninja, go!
When you follow these 4 simple steps, you’re going to start seeing your hard work pay off!
What gives you a headache when it comes to marketing? Have you tried breaking it down into baby steps? I hope this blog has helped you realize marketing doesn’t have to be complicated. I’d love to help you get clearer on this. Leave a comment or head to the Childcare Ninja Facebook group to discuss how to make marketing your childcare business as simple as pie. Join us for more tips on how to make your childcare business the success it deserves to be!
While you’re here, are you in the Childcare Ninja membership yet? We’re an army of childcare professionals who are sharing ninja-sharp skills to transform our businesses into childcare empires! This is Childcare Ownership all Grownup! It’s full of exclusive resources and support to help you grow your Childcare Business.
Recently our industry has been recognized as essential due to the pandemic. The need for emergency service staff, food store workers and other “essential” workers to place their children in care with us while they deal with the Covid-19 crisis has been a core part of this. This has been an interesting thing for me to observe, and I was wondering how you’re feeling about it?
As a childcare business owner of multiple spaces, with a large number of staff, I have been watching things unfold with attentiveness. I know that the majority of our parents have always thought of us as essential, but that isn’t always the case, so the realization by the wider public and government feels quite significant.
So this led me to pondering about our mindsets as founders in this business. I’d love to hear your thoughts once you’ve read this blog…
How essential did you feel before?
It’s a funny one isn’t it? Before the outbreak here in the USA I, personally, considered the offerings of my business to be absolutely essential. I heard it from parents all the time. Being there to pick up the pieces when a treasured little human is finding separation anxiety tough, or when we can offer care to cover a night shift for someone whose shifts change last minute…I’d consider those things pretty essential, right? When you get feedback from clients like, “I don’t know what I’d do without you!” Or “You’re a God-send” you feel like they couldn’t do without your business. Or at least that’s what I have always felt like.
But I know that a few other childcare business owners feel like their services aren’t that important. That they’re considered casual or they don’t feel they’re needed – maybe the moms aren’t working and get their hair done while you watch their kids. Some have told me they’re not treated as professional by some of their clients or people in their communities – they’re “just childcare”. From where I’m standing, there’s no “just”! But I do understand that being told constantly that your an afterthought – sometimes even a frivolous expense – must be difficult to hear when the job feels so demanding and is all-consuming.
Which camp did you sit in and how do you feel now?
It’s not all fun and games
One thing I’ve noticed is that people posting on social media have changed their tone. They’ve gone from joking about how easy our jobs are and how we get paid too much for “just playing”, to acknowledging the challenges that childcare business comes with. Apparently they’ve realized that childcare is more than just fun and games!
And it’s dawned on people that trying to work while having a kid in tow is pretty tough…so I saw clients who initially tried to work from home with the children at home, but couldn’t get enough done. Which led to them booking their kids into daycare instead of relying on screens to mind them. Instead they get engaging activities and entertainment in a safe environment that doesn’t disturb mom and dad’s conference calls! And we now get grateful parents who thank us for something they’d taken for granted before.
Has the pandemic changed your business mindset?
The pandemic has hit us all in different ways, depending on where you are and how severe the lock down in your state has been. Here, in Pennsylvania, my business has pretty much carried on as before.
Has your mindset as a business owner changed since we’re now acknowledged as “essential”? Or did you always consider you and your team as indispensable? Are you cheering “FINALLY!” at the top of your lungs? I am so intrigued, because it definitely feels different hearing us being officially described as essential workers.
Perhaps you’re grateful for recognition? Is it like a badge of honor that we can now be held up as our healthcare workers and first responders are? After decades of providing care for thousands of children, we are now being given this accolade – it’s a little strange to think that it’s only just happened.
Where do we go from here?
It is certainly a strange time for many business owners, and I know some childcare owners have struggled – particularly outside the US where lock down has been stricter in some countries. But the change in attitude from the government and the wider public surely means that we have a general appreciation now, and perhaps we can see ourselves in a different light too.
Has it changed the way you look at yourself as a professional? Do you feel more professional than casual? I know that many of the parents I work with have a new found view on us, and I think I’m probably walking a little taller! I feel even more proud of the support we’ve given during the crisis to emergency workers, but in helping families maintain some sort of normality. We’ve been a safe haven for a lot of kids.
Now that we’re officially “essential” will this change the way you approach your work and customer interactions? Have you noticed any difference in you or your team?
I know this isn’t the usual kind of blog post I share with you, Ninjas, but I had to find out from you if y’all are feeling like this too?! Let me know your thoughts in the comments, or drop me an email! I love hearing from you, and these times we’re living in are pretty strange. Don’t be afraid to reach out.
Keep on keepin’ on!
I’m going to open this discussion up on the Facebook group too, so come on over and join in the chat! It’s THE place to meet like-minded childcare business owners, to keep up to date and in the loop about all things early education and daycare related, and to hang out!
And if you’d like to find out more about becoming a Childcare Ninja, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’re an army of childcare professionals who are sharing ninja-sharp skills to transform our businesses into childcare empires! This is Childcare Ownership all Grownup!