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  #1  
Old 01-02-2013, 11:19 AM
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Default In Starting Your Daycare, What Mistakes Have U Made and What Would You Do Differently

I was wondering for the ones that have started their day cares if they could share what mistakes they have made in the beginning, and along the way.
And what would you do differently?

I think that this information could be very helpful to those just starting out.
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Old 01-02-2013, 11:31 AM
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One thing that I DID and do not regret was to start out BIG. Contracts, posted hours, and putting myself out there as the BOSS of my business (if the parent wants to be in charge, then they can hire a nanny) You can always dial it down if needed, but it's a lot harder to take back the power once you've given it away.
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Old 01-02-2013, 12:56 PM
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Getting too involved and too attached to the families. You always have to remember that this is a business. I do think that there should be a connection between providers and families but not to the extent where a provider is taken advantage of or to the point where you put your DC families needs/preferences above your own or your family's needs. Daycare parents always like to say that they want a provider who loves their child like they would their own child but it is very rare that a daycare parent will see you as anything but the babysitter. You will be expected to make all sorts of special treatment for them but many daycare parents will rip their kid out of your daycare and never look back. Its important like the PP said, to have everything in writing and stay firm to your policies. Dont expect to be friends with your daycare parents or for them to show you any respect or consideration if you dont insist on it. I know I sound like a bitter person and really I am not. This is just a word of warning! your daycare families are your income, period. Its a business. There should be respect and nurturing there, as a caregiver, but in the end, its a business.
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Old 01-02-2013, 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Play Care View Post
One thing that I DID and do not regret was to start out BIG. Contracts, posted hours, and putting myself out there as the BOSS of my business (if the parent wants to be in charge, then they can hire a nanny) You can always dial it down if needed, but it's a lot harder to take back the power once you've given it away.

Good for you! This would be a huge help for people just starting out.
And to add to this point is to have good policies and enforce them, including late fees, sickness policy,

Things I changed after learning they didn't work:
Not letting kids bring their own toys or food. It causes fights.
Making sure parents pay their weekly tuition regardless of attendance. This is huge. A provider should get paid no matter what.
Requiring a two week deposit. It keeps parents from skipping out on you and helps weed out those who usually do that.
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Old 01-02-2013, 05:06 PM
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Good for you! This would be a huge help for people just starting out.
And to add to this point is to have good policies and enforce them, including late fees, sickness policy,

Things I changed after learning they didn't work:
Not letting kids bring their own toys or food. It causes fights.
Making sure parents pay their weekly tuition regardless of attendance. This is huge. A provider should get paid no matter what.
Requiring a two week deposit. It keeps parents from skipping out on you and helps weed out those who usually do that.
I have questions if you don't mind...Do parents seem upset when you require a two week deposit? I am opening in a couple of weeks and have decided to also require a two week deposit, one week is for the first week and one week is for the last week of care, provided they give a two week notice. I was just wondering if this works. I have seen providers require a 1-2 week deposit, but have also seen people say they don't because of the economy and that people don't want to pay that much up front. I was just wondering how well this works. Thanks.
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Old 01-02-2013, 05:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaisyMamma View Post

Good for you! This would be a huge help for people just starting out.
And to add to this point is to have good policies and enforce them, including late fees, sickness policy,

Things I changed after learning they didn't work:
Not letting kids bring their own toys or food. It causes fights.
Making sure parents pay their weekly tuition regardless of attendance. This is huge. A provider should get paid no matter what.
Requiring a two week deposit. It keeps parents from skipping out on you and helps weed out those who usually do that.
Keep them coming. I might write an article on this topic titled "If I Could Start Over..".
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Old 01-02-2013, 05:53 PM
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Some mistakes that I made, but rectified:

Not having a detailed enough contract. Mine started as 1.5 pages and progressed to 10, because every time I got burned by a parent I changed and added things!
Not requiring a deposit. I agree with DaisyMama - 1-2 weeks NONREFUNDABLE deposit.
Holding spots with no money paid up front, or holding spots for an extended period of time for a small fee. NEVER AGAIN.
Getting paid after care rather than prior to care. ALWAYS get paid prior to giving any care, and no pay, no play.
Not requiring extra breastmilk/formula in case an infant has an extra hungry day.
Trying to get SA's to do homework right after snack time. They definitely need to play outside first and do homework afterward.
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Old 01-02-2013, 07:31 PM
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When getting new parents DO NOT expect them to read the contracts, you need to sit with them and go over each item or atleast next to each item on the contract have a place for BOTH parents to initial. Its important that you know both parents read and understand the contract.

If Money can break up a family, imagine what money can do to someone who barely knows you, i recently had a disgruntled parent write a bad review on my daycare because she was upset about her deposit....

I personally have parents pay 1 week deposit in cash (that i keep in their folder) that goes towards the last weeks payment. I felt it was asking a lot for two weeks payments. some providers do a payment plan on here as well though.

Hope that helps
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Old 01-02-2013, 07:51 PM
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I ask for a one week deposit that is applied to their final week of care to guarantee I get at least one week notice if someone were to leave. They also then have to pay the first week whenever they start. Everyone has been perfectly fine with it (or I guess if they weren't they chose someone else but that's fine). I only recently had one person who said they couldn't afford it so we broke it into 4 chunks and she pays it with her regular rate for the 4 weeks until it's paid.

I just felt like 2 weeks was really expensive and asking way too much IMO.
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  #10  
Old 01-02-2013, 08:05 PM
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Here are a few....

- My grandma always said "Start out how you're gonna be". Meaning...start off not taking any junk & your clients won't be surprised when you enforce the policies they signed off on.

- Have a very detailed contract & change it when you find things that aren't working for you.

- ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS GET PRE-PAYMENT. You can be flexible on the amount of your deposits but NEVER provide care before you are paid.

- I don't want to say 'never' but it's a RARE occasion when you should take someone who needs care IMMEDIATELY. There is certainly a reason WHY they need care so soon. These folks need to be researched. HEAVILY.

- Anyone who sings the 'single mother song' or the 'I have other bills song' is not for me. Whether you're a single mom & have bills or not, it doesn't cost me any less to care for your child so how can I give you a discount because you made the CHOICE to be a single mom? Or even if life circumstances made you a single mom, it still costs me the same amount of electric, food, heat, hot water, toys, maintenance, materials, etc. to take care of your child. Hard times & temporary help are one thing....but a sense of entitlement....is another.

- If you have to say something not so complimentary about a child, ALWAYS throw in something nice about the child's day even if you have to lie. After a hard day's work, nobody wants to hear that Johnny is going to be a serial killer.

- Always update parents on the 'extras' you do to provide value to your program. Classes, inspections, certifications, CPR renewals, etc. This way they get a real sense of what you have to do to maintain your license and your business. You're not just home chillin'...this is a business & worth EVERY PENNY (and then some) that they are charged.

- If you have a 'Nervous Nelly' or someone who is SUPER PICKY or thinks you're their Nanny...BEWARE. I'm not saying don't work with them....I'm just saying that if they don't get comfortable in a reasonable amount of time & you know you're doing a good job....you are going to be MI-SER-ABLE. It's best to give the situation a time limit & if nothing has changed, let them know that you're sorry but you can't meet their needs at this time.

I hope my humble opinion helps in some way....GOOD LUCK!!!
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Old 01-02-2013, 08:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TBird View Post
Here are a few....

- My grandma always said "Start out how you're gonna be". Meaning...start off not taking any junk & your clients won't be surprised when you enforce the policies they signed off on.

- Have a very detailed contract & change it when you find things that aren't working for you.

- ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS GET PRE-PAYMENT. You can be flexible on the amount of your deposits but NEVER provide care before you are paid.

- I don't want to say 'never' but it's a RARE occasion when you should take someone who needs care IMMEDIATELY. There is certainly a reason WHY they need care so soon. These folks need to be researched. HEAVILY.

- Anyone who sings the 'single mother song' or the 'I have other bills song' is not for me. Whether you're a single mom & have bills or not, it doesn't cost me any less to care for your child so how can I give you a discount because you made the CHOICE to be a single mom? Or even if life circumstances made you a single mom, it still costs me the same amount of electric, food, heat, hot water, toys, maintenance, materials, etc. to take care of your child. Hard times & temporary help are one thing....but a sense of entitlement....is another.

- If you have to say something not so complimentary about a child, ALWAYS throw in something nice about the child's day even if you have to lie. After a hard day's work, nobody wants to hear that Johnny is going to be a serial killer.

- Always update parents on the 'extras' you do to provide value to your program. Classes, inspections, certifications, CPR renewals, etc. This way they get a real sense of what you have to do to maintain your license and your business. You're not just home chillin'...this is a business & worth EVERY PENNY (and then some) that they are charged.

- If you have a 'Nervous Nelly' or someone who is SUPER PICKY or thinks you're their Nanny...BEWARE. I'm not saying don't work with them....I'm just saying that if they don't get comfortable in a reasonable amount of time & you know you're doing a good job....you are going to be MI-SER-ABLE. It's best to give the situation a time limit & if nothing has changed, let them know that you're sorry but you can't meet their needs at this time.

I hope my humble opinion helps in some way....GOOD LUCK!!!
I see that you say to never start someone immediately. What do you do? I am just wondering because I am opening my FCC in a couple of weeks and I was wondering of how to take new clients. Do you do an email, phone interview, in person interview w/ or w/o the children, how do you know whether to take a family or not, is it just instinct? I thought I knew how it would be, but after reading posts on here I'm getting more nervous the closer my opening comes!
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  #12  
Old 01-02-2013, 09:07 PM
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I see that you say to never start someone immediately. What do you do? I am just wondering because I am opening my FCC in a couple of weeks and I was wondering of how to take new clients. Do you do an email, phone interview, in person interview w/ or w/o the children, how do you know whether to take a family or not, is it just instinct? I thought I knew how it would be, but after reading posts on here I'm getting more nervous the closer my opening comes!
First of all...don't worry! Everything will be fine. Most of these things happen over a number of years in the business & who's to say it will happen to you at all...like pregnancy...every business is different.

A lot of it is instinct...if you feel 'funny'...it probably is 'funny'. You are interviewing parents as much as they are interviewing you.

- I do a quick phone interview and then I always do interviews with the prospective child & the parents together in my daycare. I do it after hours so that I can observe how the child moves about the room without distraction (if I want to see him/her interact with kids, I'll grab one or two of my own children & ask them to play - my kids are nosey so they may just insert themselves anyway).

- I always ask if the child has been in care before...this way you can always follow with... 'what happened' or 'why are you looking for care now', etc.

- If they need care SAME DAY or the next day it can be a red flag. Not always, but sometimes. Did they refuse to pay their provider & get dismissed? Were they late all the time? Did they work poor grandma into the ground & even she can't deal with them anymore? Did they have a falling out? Are they super picky & bounce from daycare to daycare trying to find Jesus? These are just some things to delve into if you're presented with someone who is on the lam for childcare. Hopefully, it's just someone who's new to the area or it's their child's first time in daycare from grandma or aunty's house.
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Old 01-02-2013, 09:12 PM
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First of all...don't worry! Everything will be fine. Most of these things happen over a number of years in the business & who's to say it will happen to you at all...like pregnancy...every business is different.

A lot of it is instinct...if you feel 'funny'...it probably is 'funny'. You are interviewing parents as much as they are interviewing you.

- I do a quick phone interview and then I always do interviews with the prospective child & the parents together in my daycare. I do it after hours so that I can observe how the child moves about the room without distraction (if I want to see him/her interact with kids, I'll grab one or two of my own children & ask them to play - my kids are nosey so they may just insert themselves anyway).

- I always ask if the child has been in care before...this way you can always follow with... 'what happened' or 'why are you looking for care now', etc.

- If they need care SAME DAY or the next day it can be a red flag. Not always, but sometimes. Did they refuse to pay their provider & get dismissed? Were they late all the time? Did they work poor grandma into the ground & even she can't deal with them anymore? Did they have a falling out? Are they super picky & bounce from daycare to daycare trying to find Jesus? These are just some things to delve into if you're presented with someone who is on the lam for childcare. Hopefully, it's just someone who's new to the area or it's their child's first time in daycare from grandma or aunty's house.
Thanks! This helps a lot! I think I will do the same for the interview process. I am coming from working in a center setting for 14 years where someone else is in charge and if the new children had problems somewhere else, I wasn't the one to have to worry about it! Now it's just me.
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Old 01-02-2013, 09:21 PM
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BACKBONE BACKBONE BACKBONE find it, hold onto it and don't let that baby go!!!!!! It has taken me 3yrs to find mine again and I regret ever letting my parent's take advantage of me! Find the post about contracts, and read through what others have to piece yours together (Vanessa??? always has great ideas) once you get it stick to it!!!!! Don't slack on anything cause then parents will expect it every time! I found my backbone 1/2 way through December 2012 when I read an article on the homepage from another provider, it really opened my eyes and I have to say since I have been stern with my parents (we've had a bunch of sickies and complaints that they had to pay when kids were out so long sick cause another kid came sick) I have felt a million times better about myself and my job!
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Old 01-02-2013, 09:33 PM
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A lot of it is instinct...if you feel 'funny'...it probably is 'funny'. )
This is probably the ONLY piece of advice that I would bother to pass on to anyone just starting out.

The rest is a matter of opinion and/or specific situations all too unique to pass off as a list of simple do's & don'ts.

I think alot of times things veteran providers say are red flags can also turn out to be good or positive experiences.
Starting someone immediately for example.
I've been there and done it time or two before.
A couple times it didn't go well at all and a few times, it actually did.

Another example is taking families that have been booted from other care providers more than once.
Same experiences; a couple of the families were just like I was told they'd be and a couple others are still with me.

Child care is a unique business and although there are many of us, we are so unique that it is impossible to have one big giant book of hard fast or rigid rules.

We all offer different perspectives and different situations. Some of us can afford to be super strict and risk losing a client over a perceived lack of respect and others have to grin and bear things a little more than they want to simply to continue providing a roof over their own heads and food on their tables.

It really does take all kinds and although veteran providers can offer up tidbits of advice and a couple of "I would never's" each one of us has to figure it out for ourselves. We can take the advice and suggestions from others and earmark the wisdom to apply later but really it all comes down to doing what you feel comfortable doing.

If something makes you uncomfortable, don't do it. Don't make it dramatic, just say it doesn't work for you. If something feels right and you are comfortable with what ever arrangement you and a family have made, then do it. Don't worry about what others will think or who will judge. Do what you know is right. Be clear about what you expect from the parents and about what their expectations are of you. Don't assume if they don't tell you. Ask.

Bottom line is this job doesn't come with a job description and a six month review. We have to the power to make it a great job or the worst decision ever. Just make sure it "feels" right. Trust your instincts.
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Old 01-02-2013, 09:42 PM
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This is probably the ONLY piece of advice that I would bother to pass on to anyone just starting out.

The rest is a matter of opinion and/or specific situations all too unique to pass off as a list of simple do's & don'ts.

I think alot of times things veteran providers say are red flags can also turn out to be good or positive experiences.
Starting someone immediately for example.
I've been there and done it time or two before.
A couple times it didn't go well at all and a few times, it actually did.

Another example is taking families that have been booted from other care providers more than once.
Same experiences; a couple of the families were just like I was told they'd be and a couple others are still with me.

Child care is a unique business and although there are many of us, we are so unique that it is impossible to have one big giant book of hard fast or rigid rules.

We all offer different perspectives and different situations. Some of us can afford to be super strict and risk losing a client over a perceived lack of respect and others have to grin and bear things a little more than they want to simply to continue providing a roof over their own heads and food on their tables.

It really does take all kinds and although veteran providers can offer up tidbits of advice and a couple of "I would never's" each one of us has to figure it out for ourselves. We can take the advice and suggestions from others and earmark the wisdom to apply later but really it all comes down to doing what you feel comfortable doing.

If something makes you uncomfortable, don't do it. Don't make it dramatic, just say it doesn't work for you. If something feels right and you are comfortable with what ever arrangement you and a family have made, then do it. Don't worry about what others will think or who will judge. Do what you know is right. Be clear about what you expect from the parents and about what their expectations are of you. Don't assume if they don't tell you. Ask.

Bottom line is this job doesn't come with a job description and a six month review. We have to the power to make it a great job or the worst decision ever. Just make sure it "feels" right. Trust your instincts.
I think we agree here, which is why I said....

"First of all...don't worry! Everything will be fine. Most of these things happen over a number of years in the business & who's to say it will happen to you at all...like pregnancy...every business is different."
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Old 01-02-2013, 10:20 PM
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I think we agree here, which is why I said....

"First of all...don't worry! Everything will be fine. Most of these things happen over a number of years in the business & who's to say it will happen to you at all...like pregnancy...every business is different."
I'm sorry, did that not come across right.... ?

I was 'ing you.

That one sentence though about instincts, I REALLY agreed with.

My reply was in support of that thought.
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Old 01-02-2013, 11:01 PM
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I just opened 3.5 months ago so my experience & 'advice' is limited. My biggest is follow your gut. If something doesn't feel right when interviewing a parent/family-it probably isn't.

I took on one who I got a bad vibe from during the interview & it's been nothing but a headache.
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Old 01-03-2013, 05:34 AM
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I'm sorry, did that not come across right.... ?

I was 'ing you.

That one sentence though about instincts, I REALLY agreed with.

My reply was in support of that thought.
Awwww, thanks for the support Blackcat31. You are one of the veterans I follow, for sure!

As much as I know about instinct, sometimes business is slow & I stomp on that little nagging feeling to fill in the gaps. I usually add up my sanity... x's it by the aggravation, and then equal out the mess it will turn into. Oh yes...scientists & mathematicians we are as well!
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Old 01-03-2013, 07:47 AM
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put as much information on your website as possible so that you don't spend hours having to explain your rules, rates, philosophies, etc. during interviews and even after they start.

Of course verbally go over the very important stuff...

Websites give you an opportunity to even give detailed potty training or drop off and pick up advise so that you are not constantly repeating yourself to dozens of parents.
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