Many childcare business owners that I have spoken to lately, have told me that they were experiencing low enrollment. On Sunday September 25, 2011, my husband and I decided to stop at a garage sale after church.
As I browsed the sale I noticed a lady standing at a table with a sign that read, “Daycare Positions Open.” I introduced myself and asked if she owned a daycare. The lady began to tell me that she only had one child and it seems like parents do not trust daycare providers like they used to.
I invited the lady to follow the Child Care Business Owner blog and wished her much success with her business. As I walked away, I began to think about how creative it was for her to market her daycare openings at a garage sale.
Then I began to ponder on this question:Do parents really trust daycare providers or was that strictly her opinion? Then I started to wonder if the economy has really affected enrollment in daycare businesses. When parents lose their jobs; then they will not need childcare services and this has a major affect on the enrollment in childcare facilities.
Last week, one of my families of three years un-enrolled their son from my preschool program because the father lost his job. I was disappointed that the child had to leave the program and at the same time; saddened for the family for their loss of income.
On Saturday September 24, 2011, I was in a business meeting with a local childcare center owner and she was telling me that the St. Louis city schools seem to be pulling business from the daycare centers, because they have preschool programs.
This situation sounds too familiar to me and I really began to wonder if home day cares and centers can compete with the local school districts. Furthermore, I came to the conclusion that we an network and partner with the local schools, because they have limited space just like we do.
Now, getting back to……”Is it the location or the economy?’
If you are experiencing low enrollment as you read this blog post I want to challenge you to evaluate your location by doing the following:
1. Contact your local childcare resource and referral agency to evaluate the need in your zip code
2. If you discover that there is a great need, step up your marketing and dominate with flyers, ads and getting out into community, etc.
3. What if you discover that your location is affecting your enrollment? If possible, strive to market your business like never before; families will come if they know that you are there or consider relocating if possible.
Several years ago, a local childcare center went out of business, because of the location. The owner told me that she was open for one year and her enrollment never climbed above 10 children. She was forced to close and sold all of her equipment.
Is it the economy?
Many families are losing jobs, however, the schools are filling up with students. College students need childcare too. So the question is, should we as childcare business owners be changing who and how we market our businesses?
Furthermore, if parents are not coming to you, it may be time to go to them; this could include, passing out flyers at the grocery store, walking the neighbor hood or going to the colleges to market your childcare business.
Yes the economy may be bad right now and you may have lost some families, however, keep in mind that it is only for a season. Moreover, during this season, you must be more aggressive with your marketing plan.
I believe that there are more than enough kids to go around, you must shift your focus to attract those kids to you and do something that you have not done before such as be more aggressive and unique with how you market your business.
What do you think? Is it the economy or your location? Has your enrollment been affected? Talk back to me by leaving a comment below.