Two years ago my husband and I moved to Atlanta with a dream of living in a new city and expanding our childcare business.
March 23, 2021, that dream became a reality and we signed a lease on our Atlanta location!!
After signing the lease, the expansion process literally began and if you have been following this blog for at least 5 years, you know that I am no stranger to expanding a childcare business.
However, opening a new center in Georgia was completely outside of my comfort zone and it was truly a fun, yet challenging experience. I was used to expanding in the state of Missouri and moving to a new city, expanded my mindset about the expansion process.
Moreover, Opening a center in Georgia stretched my faith and it taught me so much about the child care industry in Georgia and in today’s blog post, I am going to share the following with you:
- What it took to find a building
- what the start up process was like for me
- What the licensing process was like
- What this expansion taught me
Finding a Building
We began searching for a building in January 2019. I knew to look for a big building because 6 months before moving to Atlanta God showed me in a dream that I was going to deliver a Big baby. So, I knew not to look for a small building.
The biggest challenge that we faced was not knowing where to start. Atlanta is such a big city and we were literally spending hundreds of dollars a week driving around looking for buildings.
So we decided to go the virtual route and we began searching for buildings on a site called, www.loopnet.com.
When browsing loopnet, be sure to search for buildings in the area that you seek to open a center. We found several buildings and negotiated several deals, however, it seemed like we were just not finding the right deal. Also, one of the things that we noticed was the face that there were very few buildings on the market in 2019 and most centers had 10 year leases.
Then the pandemic hit in February 2020. This paused our building searches, because many realtors were taking covid-19 precautions and not showing buildings.
I was inspired to keep preparing for the expansion. I began to draw out a plan of what I wanted the building to look like. I wrote my hearts desire for the building. Then I was inspired to read the story of Noah and study the book of Nehemiah in the bible to gain biblical principles to build by faith. ( I write about it in my new books Build your business by Faith and Lead by Faith)
Furthermore, I began to get impatient and wear in the search, because it seemed like it was taking too long. So I reflected back on what it took to find buildings in St. Louis and I remembered that I didn’t have to search, the opportunity came to me as Prepared.
In November 2020, I received a email that a building was available in midtown. My husband an I went to look at the building. It looked perfect, it was in the heart of Atlanta, however, we just couldn’t agree on some things as it pertained the building. The landlord decided not to go with us.
Then in March 2021, I received a email that there was a building for lease in Kennesaw, GA and it I wanted it; I needed to contact the landlord right away. I reached out the the landlord and weeks later, we signed the lease and closed the deal in May 2021! Then the work began…
The Start-up Process
Once we were issued the keys to the building, we applied for childcare license and the business license. Also, we were required to turn on the utilities in our name and it seemed like the ball was rolling fast.
The building was completely turn key and it had only been vacant for about 3 months.
What we did not expect was all the inspection fees and the very expensive utility deposits. But God provided!
Some of the inspections included:
- Water back flow test
- Fire hydrant test
- Sprinkler system test
- Fire Safety Life inspection
The fire Marshall approval process was the toughest process. Our center is located in Cobb county and the Fire marshal office was very detailed about our floor plans for the building.
After five fire marshal office rejections we were approved in June 2021!
Turning on the gas was like a monopoly game. In Atlanta there are several gas companies and I had to plenty to choose from.
The licensing process was a ton of paper work, however, it was very simple. The licensing application is done in two parts: Part A and Part B. See the application online. ** You will be required to attend a child care orientation training.
Once you complete your application and operation agreement plan, you must fax all documents to Georgia Bright from the start and wait for an initial inspection.
There are several things that I love about Georgia Bright from the start and they are as follows:
- Their website is so informative.
- I love that there is a quality rated system
- I love the Georgia Pre-k program for Parents.
- Bright from the start focuses not just on health and safety, they focus on the education of young children.
- The child to staff ratios allows for more children to one teacher, which reduces the cost of labor for center owners.
- I love that staff cannot start work until they have a satisfactory background screening and that you have 90 days to complete required training.
- Also, there are no physicals required for staff to start work
As we worked on getting licensed we planned a open house and God sent me my initial staff. I did not have to place an ad. They all came to me and they were truly heaven sent.
On August 6, 2021, we were given the approval by Georgia Bright from the start to open and that was an exciting day. Today we are open and servicing the Atlanta community!
What this expansion taught me
- Dreams do come true.
- When one door closes, that is God saying; that is not for you.
- Don’t give-up on your dreams.
- Stretch yourself and do new things.
- You don’t have to chase opportunities, they will come to you
- Move at the speed of God and don’t rush the process.
- Hire people with a proven track record.
- There is truly southern hospitality in Georgia!
I hope that you were inspired by my Expansion story. If you desire to grow your Business, be sure to check our my Child Care Business Expansion guide and see the links about to my books: Lead by Faith and Build Your Business by Faith.
Be sure to leave me a comment below and lets talk.
Need help with expanding your child care business? See my coaching options. click here