Daycare management offers a unique set of challenges that are not inherent in any other business. Sometimes it is easier to create your own tools to solve these problems. As with most businesses, there are elegant solutions if the cost is worth it. The following are some ideas for creating your own tools or looking for third-party solutions. From there, I have included some analysis on these ideas.
Excel and other spreadsheets
With its ability to record a wide variety of information such as text labels, numbers, dates, and times, Excel is a must-have tool for almost every business.
Excel’s simplicity in creating lists and performing calculations can also lead to problems if it is the exclusive tool used. While it’s easy to organize your data one way when you’re in a hurry, it’s hard to change it once you’ve had a chance to think about it more. Also, spreadsheets can be stored almost anywhere on a computer or any computer. It’s very easy to lose files or have multiple copies of the same file with slightly different data in each.
Special care must be taken when organizing using spreadsheets so that your files and data are properly organized and backed up.
If you plan to use Microsoft Excel as your primary tool for organizing your daycare, I’d like to tell you about other tools that likely offer the same amount of power that is used in Excel, but at a fraction of the cost. These tools have at least a footing in the open source software revolution and include: Apache Open Office Calc and Google Docs.
You can buy rolls of preprinted sheets or print your own. This functionality can also be entered directly into a computer, saving printer and ink costs. Additionally, we will see more applications for this type of record keeping as tablets such as the Apple iPad or Microsoft Surface tablet become more economically viable for child care centers.
You have many tools, many of which are quite inexpensive, to market your services as a childcare provider, but there is an old adage about marketing. “I know 50% of my marketing is working, but I don’t know what 50%.” The list is quite long: brochures or discounts for local businesses, Google Local, phone book, various directories, and signage.
It is also common knowledge among marketers that the most ideal marketing method is word of mouth. I’ve seen programs where companies reward referrals from their customers, but simply asking for referrals has been shown to be more effective.
Other software tools
There are other software tools besides spreadsheets to help you stay organized and up to date. Financial systems allow you to manage your bills and income, as well as employee payroll. It can be specific to the child care industry or more of a small business solution.
The tools for the roll call example mentioned above can take an electronic format.
As we move forward with different technologies, it will also be important to look for tools that allow you to work with whatever technology is available. One morning, she takes attendance on her phone, and later that afternoon she uses a tablet to check students out. Finally, to close out the day, you can use a desktop computer at home (several miles from your daycare) to get some last-minute financial updates.
Be sure to consider options that give you the kind of lifestyle you want while running your daycare, including the ability to work when and where you want.
Fleet management is not a concern for all companies, but transportation is a service provided by many daycare centers. Controlling more than one vehicle can be difficult. Be sure to look for tools that allow you to track the miles traveled in each vehicle and that you know exactly how they are used.
Additionally, it is important to track vehicle performance such as miles per gallon. This allows you to make sure vehicles are running at peak performance and gas money isn’t being wasted.
When it comes to running and owning a daycare, there are a lot of new tasks one has to deal with that can be completely foreign. Sometimes we can change our own solutions and other times it is easier to buy tools. It is always important to evaluate any tool or solution for your child care service to make sure you don’t waste money and more importantly time.