Whether you’ve been running your childcare business for 5 days or 5 years, you need a presence on social media. You’ve heard this over and over again, and yet, 1 out of every 2 daycares either don’t have a social media presence or don’t use it regularly. This article will provide some ideas on where to get started and how to create an engaged audience of parents.
Why it’s important For your Childcare center
Parents want to show off their children and what their children are doing. Social media enables you to do this in a simple way, catered to your audience and easy to share. You have the opportunity to provide them with the images, content, and fun posts they crave, starring their very own child!
The more engaged a parent is, the more likely they are to share their experience with their friends and family. They want to see their children learning, socializing, and most importantly, enjoying themselves. Parent-to-parent communication is essential in the growth of your program.
Social Media Platforms
If you don’t have a website (and don’t have the time/money for one), Facebook should act as your program’s main site. Invite all your parents to join your Facebook page. Include all the relevant information: Name of your program (be sure to double check the spelling – some are careless with spell-check and it can hurt your brand!), logo, location, description, daily hours, contact information, marketing material (like this), and pictures to capture what your program is and does. This will be your main page for providing information and showcasing your program.
Twitter is a quick way to share real-time updates of activities and events – like pumpkin carving, field trips, water days and more. This depends on the reach of your program. If you are a local, one-site childcare program, you most likely don’t need to be on Twitter. The more platforms you use, the more time it takes you. Facebook should suffice for a smaller program. For those with larger programs, or multiple locations, this is a great way to reach your widespread audience.
Both platforms use the power of pictures to capture your creative posts. Don’t just post pictures of the kids, get creative! Post a video, craft, or project of the day (see below). These types of posts are more likely to spread or go “viral” within your community.
All it takes is 1-2 updates per week on one or all of these platforms to build an engaged audience. Of course the content you post matters.
Get creative with your posts. You have arguably the best resource for adorable pictures, quotes, and more at your disposal: the kids! Show your current parents, and all the other parents looking for a new childcare program, how much fun the kids are having with you. Here are some ideas:
Post a short video of a child in a giggle fit – laughter is contagious!
Post a short video of a dance-off or sing-along
Hold a drawing contest and post all the artwork
Capture a moment of pure sincerity when one child shares with another
Ask parents to share pictures of their children with their pets
Creativity is free and fun for everyone. But remember, don’t post everything. You only need 1 or 2 posts to engage the audience. Pick out your favorite pictures of the week and send them out.
If you want to send out pictures on a regular basis, using an app like Kinderlime is a better way to go, rather than to risk overloading any one media service.
You will probably be taking WAY more than 2 pictures every week. These parents want to be updated on what their children are doing (both good and bad). That is why we came up with our Daily Sheets and Photo Sharing childcare app. It not only allows you to record activities for each child throughout the day (meals, naps, mood, bathroom breaks, etc), but also allows you to share pictures of the kids directly to the parents via the app. Keep parents connected and engaged throughout the day.
The Neighborhood Christian Center team prides themselves on providing the highest quality education and care to their preschoolers. When you walk on the campus it is immediately apparent that NCC puts an incredible amount of thought and care into how their preschool and childcare center is run.
As the office manager at NCC, Paul’s job is to ensure the administrative side of NCC meets their high standards. If an issue or problem arises, Paul is determined to find the solution. However, Paul knows he not only needs to find a solution to the problems that arise, but find the right long lasting solution that works for them.
When Paul first arrived at NCC the billing process was a nightmare. It became apparent early on that something needed to change with how they invoiced their families.The school had a billing software already implemented, but they found it still took 15 days and 4 staff to complete the billing administrative work. The software they used was not user friendly, time consuming, and prone to mistakes.
With manually having to create invoices and collect payments each month, they were bound to have data entry mistakes come up. Not only did the billing process take enormous amounts of time, but the NCC team also found themselves spending hours fixing small billing errors. Paul needed a system that would greatly reduce the time spent invoicing families and help create a billing process that was error free.
With the old system they spent hours doing error checks and fixing mistakes, but with Kinderlime the billing process was practically error free. Instead of manually creating invoices and recording payments, they now could create and send all of the invoices at once. However, what truly made Kinderlime amazing was its ability to bulk charge families online. Families quickly set up their account with automatic online billing, and at the end of each month, NCC was able to collect all of their families tuition at once. Data entry mistakes and late fee payments became practically extinct.
They went from 4 staff spending 15 days, to 2 staff spending 2 days to complete the billing process for all 200 of their families. The difference was night and day. Kinderlime made the lives of the NCC staff much easier, and families loved the new system as well. Parents no longer needed to worry about remembering a check book, or having to look through emails and papers to find how much they owed. They simply logged into the Kinderlime parent portal and could access how much they owed, their yearly statements, and manage all of their billing online. The school was getting their tuition payments on time, and parents were avoiding obnoxious late fees.
Paul and the NCC team were amazed at how large of a difference Kinderlime made to their billing process, and began to wonder what other problems Kinderlime could help the NCC team solve. They had been using a staff clock in-out system made for all types of companies, but Kinderlime’s staff clock in system was made with preschool programs in mind.
Soon NCC had all 50 of their staff clocking in-out on Kinderlime. Staff simply needed to remember a 4 digit pin code, and enter it on the Kinderlime sign in-out app. Kinderlime made it easy for NCC to collect and report staff hours, but what made the system truly special was its ability to report ratios. Kinderlime’s live ratio report allowed the NCC team to easily view the staff to child ratio at any given time, helping ensure children were safe and each group of children always had the perfect amount of teachers.
Kinderlime was incredibly simple for staff and parents to use, and made a huge difference in the everyday processes at NCC. It became obvious that Kinderlime’s complete child care software was the right fit for them. In one software Paul and the NCC team were able to easily manage child sign in-out, attendance tracking, billing, staff clock in-out and parent communication.
Kinderlime helped NCC continue to be a preschool that staff and parents could be proud of. There is no other preschool quite like NCC, and this is all due to the amazing thought and care the NCC team puts into everything from the childcare software they chose, to the nurturing and thoughtful care they provide.
It’s amazing how 2016 went by so quickly. We had a lot of fun making Kinderlime even more awesome for our customers and hearing your feedback.
Let’s celebrate what we achieved together over the last year. With thousands of Childcare Programs using Kinderlime, we have a lot to feel thankful about.
Billing: We extended our Billing program to do weekly billing along with monthly billing. The powerful financial reports that we put together for Balances, Invoices and Payments enable childcare directors to get good insights into the fiscal health of their program. You can even export this data to Quickbooks.
Parent app: Innovation never stops at Kinderlime. We became the first and only childcare software company to allow parents to pay through the app using their credit card and bank accounts. With push notifications for photos, daily sheets and billing, parents appreciate the app more than ever.
Daily Sheet: If you are a technophobe, this is the app for your daycare. Now you can tag multiple children to the same activity (saving more time for your staff). Setting up lesson plans for each of your classrooms became easier with our Daily Sheet Templates feature. And photo sending experience became quicker this year.
Sign In-Out: Our Sign In-Out app kept getting better. We added a Carpool feature and Ratio tracking to the app. The Carpool feature allows parents to use their own pin when added to the authorized pickup list for other families. We also introduced meal tracking and CACFP reporting.
Holidays are a busy, but fun time of the year. With so much going on, it can be stressful. Here are some tips that’ll get you thinking about things you can do in your childcare and afterschool programs.
1. Plan Holiday Gifts for your Childcare Staff. No better way to appreciate your staff than to give them a gift to let them know that you care. You can even engage your families in this gifting. Here are some suggestions – (a) A $10 giftcard to Starbucks, or Dunkin Donuts or a Target Gift Card (b) Giving them a surprise paid time off. As your attendance starts to reduce because of the holidays, there are opportunities for you to give your staff surprise time off during the afternoons.
2. Encourage parents to give, it’s a time to Thank the care providers. Parents sometimes are very innovative in thanking the teachers. So, give them that freedom to thank your staff in their special way ((Don’t forget to remind them that there are office staff that need their love as well).
4. Have a Holiday Party. Have your staff and their significant others join you for an evening dinner. To make it inexpensive you could do it in the childcare center by having the food catered.
5. Holiday Activities for Kids. Parents love to see what their kids have done during the holidays. Here are some craft activities for children.
6. Staff planning around Christmas. This is a time when you have to plan your staff because attendance will be significantly lower. You can have your parents signup for the holidays specifically so that you can plan better. Have them tell you which days they plan to have their kids in your care.
7. Thank your parents. Give your parents a gift of time by giving them an opportunity to have a parent night.Throw a pajama party for the older kids party in their pajamas . Also, there is crafting, face painting, pizza and games.
8. Winter programs. Parents look forward to these. It’s a reflection of how your students grew during the last few months. These are great memories for you and your parents. Encourage your teachers and reward the classrooms who work hard towards these winter programs
9. Start your next year planning. Time goes by quickly. So, (a) start planning for next year staffing, (b) growth of your program, (c) marketing plan and the next school year enrollment.
Recording Payroll hours has always been a challenge for daycare owners. The key to speeding up your payroll is to be organized and to track the clock-in and clock-out time of the staff via an electronic staff timeclock. Here are few things that will help you spend less time on payroll.
1. Compliance from Staff: Enforce that the staff always clock in and out either on a timesheet or an electronic software. Oftentimes, staff does not see the value of being consistent with clocking in and out each day. With so many distractions during their busy day, they sometimes forget to punch in the clock. However it poses additional burden on the staff to prove that they were present and the bookkeeper to add those work hours later.
2. Set clear expectations about work hours: You need to set clear expectations for start and end times of the employee’s work day. The whole schedule (both for students and other staff) is dependent on everyone being in place at the right time. Needless to say your planning for the daycare classroom ratios is dependent on this. Impress on your employees to request vacations as soon as possible and call in immediately if there is a reason for an emergency absence. This advance planning allows your to bring in additional staffing during these difficult times.
3. Use a Timeclock: Technology has given us great flexibility and organization. Kinderlime and Timesheets are considered the top two timeclock software in use. Kinderlime allows your employees to clock in or out using a 4 digit pin code. A daycare timesheet report for payroll is available at the end of the pay period. Kinderlime has an advantage over Timesheets with respect to tracking ratios, as it is a complete Sign In-Out, and Daycare Management software. With Kinderlime, you’ll be able to track childcare ratios in real time. With the visibility of knowing 15 minute counts, you can plan your staff in advance.
4. Use a Payroll software: There is some very easy-to-use software from Gusto or Intuit which helps your bookkeeper spend less time on payroll. With these easy to use software, generating payroll is a breeze. You can even track employee vacation and sick hours in these payroll processing systems. A direct deposit facility is also available.
We have gone through some common tips to help you better manage your payroll and staffing better. Hopefully you already have implemented some or all of these tips. If not, adding them to your goals for this school year will help your school continue to grow and improve.