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Old 02-06-2016, 11:28 AM
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Default Calling for Infant Spots Months in Advance

I am one of the few providers in my town who will take infants - other than the large centers. I realize that there is a shortage of infant spots. But seriously, is it normal to start calling and wanting to set up interviews when your only 3 months pregnant?! I am getting these calls at least two times a week. I've been telling the parents to call back no more than two months before they want to start care as I can't predict my openings any sooner than that.
Looking for recommendations or ideas on how to handle these advance calls. Yes, I want to keep my infant spots full at all times, but not sure how to handle this or what I should charge to hold a spot. Right now I don't have any holding fees, etc as every one of my families has always started within a week of the initial interview.
Along the same topic, does anyone keep their daycare to a certain age? I am quickly finding that my temperament is much better suited to the wee ones and not the SA. It even states in my handbook that I won't take SA. I'd like to even just limit it to just under three year olds, but still debating all the pros and cons.
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Old 02-06-2016, 11:32 AM
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In my area, daycares are booked a year out for infant spots. As soon as you get that positive test, you get your name on a wait list even before you even announce to your family.
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Old 02-06-2016, 12:33 PM
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Yes , it is very common. Parents feel they need to have all their ducks in a row before the birth. I know some couples who looked into daycare before they got preggo, just in the planning stages. When they found out they were preggo, they toured the centers they liked in their initial search. You could keep doing as you are now, because situations change, parents move, people get laid off, and the parents don't really know they will be in the same place 9 months later. You could also charge a small application fee to keep their info on file and contact them closer to due date. ( $ 25 or so to keep the ones who are serious and not scare any off with high app fees).
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Old 02-06-2016, 02:41 PM
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I get a lot of calls like this. I always offer to meet with the parents, but do let them know that I have no way of knowing if I will have a spot when they need it. I do a lot of interviews, but I figure it's good to keep people in the pipeline in case I have an unexpected opening. I think it also works as advertising, as they (if they are pleased by what they offer) will tell others looking for care about me.
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Old 02-06-2016, 03:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jenboo View Post
In my area, daycares are booked a year out for infant spots. As soon as you get that positive test, you get your name on a wait list even before you even announce to your family.
Here is almost the same. There are always available slots, but quality ones are far and few between. I think I've had people "time" pregnancies on availability before. Like,
"Miss Laundry, will you have an opening in 10&1/2 mo? "
No. Not for 13.
"Okay, we will take it"
And about three weeks prior they had baby and began paying at that time.
Now, do I "know" they waited for a fact? No. But it worked out fairly nicely for them not to have.
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Old 02-06-2016, 03:07 PM
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I would say they are very good and responsible parents! Better than the parent that contacts you a week before.

I charge 50% holding fee if it is less than 2 months away. More than that and I negotiate a price. People will pay you if they are serious.
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Old 02-06-2016, 03:34 PM
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My center's infant program is currently full until October. At our last staff meeting, the director told us we better let her now ASAP if we're having a baby so she can figure out how to wiggle us in.
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Old 02-06-2016, 04:57 PM
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Alright, so it sounds like the general theme is go ahead and interview. Then start the wait list and possible deposit depending on how far out.
I am quickly learning how important "word of mouth" is. Though I can't say for sure that my current families are recommending me, many of the families from my church definitely are So many of the calls start with "so and so from ...church says you take babies".
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Old 02-06-2016, 09:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Claraskids View Post
I am one of the few providers in my town who will take infants - other than the large centers. I realize that there is a shortage of infant spots. But seriously, is it normal to start calling and wanting to set up interviews when your only 3 months pregnant?! I am getting these calls at least two times a week. I've been telling the parents to call back no more than two months before they want to start care as I can't predict my openings any sooner than that.
Looking for recommendations or ideas on how to handle these advance calls. Yes, I want to keep my infant spots full at all times, but not sure how to handle this or what I should charge to hold a spot. Right now I don't have any holding fees, etc as every one of my families has always started within a week of the initial interview.
Along the same topic, does anyone keep their daycare to a certain age? I am quickly finding that my temperament is much better suited to the wee ones and not the SA. It even states in my handbook that I won't take SA. I'd like to even just limit it to just under three year olds, but still debating all the pros and cons.
YES! This is very common but I won't do it unless they are going to be paying me a holding fee every month of the year that they aren't here....which no one ever does! LOL. I offer infant only care so I can only have up to 4 kids under 2 at a time. Once they hit 2 they are out of my care and on to their next Provider. I won't accept any type of holding agreement unless the child will be coming to me within a month and that is only if they are breast-fed since it generally takes that long to get them used to the bottle before coming to me. Even then I require a holding fee during that month.
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Old 02-08-2016, 10:30 AM
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I have clients or former clients call me to tell me they are expecting before they even tell their parents. I am the secret keeper because they want to make sure they will have a spot. I also have families on my waiting list that are not even trying yet because they want to make sure they will get a spot when they get to that point. I actually just signed a contract for my fall infant opening this past week with a family that has been waiting for space to open. They will be paying a reduced fee for several months to get the spot because otherwise I could fill it now.
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Old 02-09-2016, 11:53 AM
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They do here! My current infant was planned to coincide with an opening in my daycare. (I have his big sis.)

But, I am in a town with a serious daycare shortage. If you don't call early, you won't have a spot.

I don't charge a fee to hold a future spot.
If I had a parent that needed a spot, say in November, but my opening started in August, then I would expect them to pay for the full spot. I am not going to leave a hole in my income that could be filled with another child.
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Old 02-09-2016, 11:59 AM
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With my last infant (sibling of a current enrollment), DCPs talked to me about an opening before they even started trying. It's pretty common.
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  #13  
Old 02-09-2016, 02:02 PM
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Yep, pretty common. I won't hold spots for anyone for longer than 2-4 weeks or so, sometimes a little more if I feel like it but not by much more if I can help it.

I also don't like to hold in-person tours or interviews until their LO is born and not until 1 month or two before they have to go back to work/school. You never know what can happen between the time that they inquire about daycare and when they actually have to go back. I've held interviews early on in the pregnancy only to have them find a friend or relative later on to care for their little snowflake or the mom decides to stay home etc. In one case the couple lost the baby during pregnancy and that was heartbreaking. I've also anticipated an opening before because of a child's birthday only to have a current client find out that they're pregnant themselves.

It's a huge waste of time for me to interview early on in the pregnancy only to find out that they won't be needing the spot after all so I just forewarn them that I'll answer any questions that they might have through email/telephone but that I don't hold tours/interviews until they're getting ready to need the spot. I do tell them that if they're interested I can add them to my waitlist and ask them to call me 6-8 weeks before they're getting ready to need daycare. It's during that call that I'll schedule their tour.
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  #14  
Old 02-09-2016, 04:02 PM
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I have had the same experience over the last year. I had a family sign up in April when they weren't even due til June. I didn't have a spot til Sept anyway so it was fine. I took a 2wk deposit and had a holding deposit contract that says they lose their deposit if they don't start by Sept. They started in late Sept (baby ended up being 2wks late and c-sec so mom got an extra 4wks of leave) PT and then FT in Oct. I know now to put an exact DATE not month.
I have had a few interviews for my mid-June opening and calls as far out as Oct.
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Old 02-09-2016, 06:18 PM
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Hey Clara

Remember the old song "Don't Worry - Be Happy" well if the phone is ringing with folks inquiring about spots -- Be Happy!

Unless you live in a community where there are more daycare seats available than children this comes as no surprise! In particular, if you honestly believe your service is of a higher quality than that of others, then again, no reason for surprise. For the rest of us, this is common, and only getting worse (for families and better for us) as daycare centers and community based daycare organizations begin to exchange their day care seats for UPK seats, resulting in fewer all day daycare seats for children under 4 years old as we see happening where I am located.

Learn how to work with this new group of folks. Develop different styles on selling your program depending on when the parents are looking to start.

Develop your business. Don't make hard promises as far as start dates, just figure out what best works for your business and community. Collect deposits, make sure everyone understands what it's for and how it works. Non-refundable deposits, you will enroll any seat prior to any promised start date in the future if a family is found and ready to go, etc...If they are not willing to fill out a waiting list form or hand over a small check for a registration fee, then they are most likely not serious about wanting to be with you and your business at the time.

Guess what - I am happy - My wife and I have 100% enrollment for over a year, in September 2016, we only predict 2 open seats as they will turn 4 and be eligible for free UPK. FYI-we have 3 families on waiting list already and we continue to be open to new families looking to enroll and tour our facility. This is the only way parents will be able to enroll in the future as best we can determine and we tell parents this.

Now that the competition for seats is heating up, see what you can do about raising your rates. Remember the old rule about supply and demand. Stay aware of the conditions and adjust your business accordingly so you are in the best place.

Best wishes,

Big Lou
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Old 02-10-2016, 05:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by biglou View Post
Hey Clara

Remember the old song "Don't Worry - Be Happy" well if the phone is ringing with folks inquiring about spots -- Be Happy!
Thank you so much for the smile this morning!

Ironically, the calls are still coming in for infants for this fall; but one of my current infants just gave two weeks notice due to dad losing his job. Advertising like crazy to fill that immediate spot... couple of interviews already set up.. fingers crossed.
I do emphasize to prospective parents that I am a infant/toddler focused daycare, not a preschool. Preschools are a dime a dozen here, infant care is not.
So appreciate everyone's advice and suggestions. Taking it all in and working on my own version of wait list/deposits/etc. Don't know what I would do with out all you knowledgeable providers here
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Old 02-10-2016, 10:13 AM
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I actually have what I call a Pre-Enrollment Program (PEP) that I created out of the need in my community to lock down an infant spot months (sometimes several) in advance. I agree with you that the closer to the actual care date is optimal, but with a shortage of infant spots many parents don't want to have to search and settle if they wait too long.

Hence the birth of the PEP program. We accept pre-enrollments 3-6 months prior to the child care need. I even had a parent pay the full tuition each month until they actually used the spot. I thought that was a bit much so I amended it to charge only $100 a month to hold the spot. Last year I amended that to charge a fee equal to one weeks tuition for each month we hold the spot. So if your infant tuition is $175/w the parent would need to pay $175 for each month you hold the spot for them. It is still way less than the full tuition that you would be receiving should a parent enroll in the spot tomorrow. Which, by the way, is what I inform the parents at the tour. Also, the PEP (holding) fee does not go toward the tuition and is forfeited if the family ultimately does not enroll.

One way I make this work without loosing too much $$$ waiting for a spot to actually be occupied is to anticipate the open spots. So for instance, in CA a child is an infant until 24 months. I anticipate the children that will be turning 2 yrs old 3-6 months in advance and begin advertising for that infant spot way in advance so that I can hopefully pull in that expectant or new parent to pre-enroll for the spot.

If you would like more details of how I work my PEP program, just send me a PM with your email and I would be happy to share.
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Old 02-10-2016, 11:26 AM
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I do the same, but 50% of the weekly fee, plus two weeks plus enrollment fee. Mine is all part of my contract. My group is generally stable for years at a time, so I anticipate openings and fill in advance.
Quote:
Originally Posted by thrivingchildcarecom View Post
I actually have what I call a Pre-Enrollment Program (PEP) that I created out of the need in my community to lock down an infant spot months (sometimes several) in advance. I agree with you that the closer to the actual care date is optimal, but with a shortage of infant spots many parents don't want to have to search and settle if they wait too long.

Hence the birth of the PEP program. We accept pre-enrollments 3-6 months prior to the child care need. I even had a parent pay the full tuition each month until they actually used the spot. I thought that was a bit much so I amended it to charge only $100 a month to hold the spot. Last year I amended that to charge a fee equal to one weeks tuition for each month we hold the spot. So if your infant tuition is $175/w the parent would need to pay $175 for each month you hold the spot for them. It is still way less than the full tuition that you would be receiving should a parent enroll in the spot tomorrow. Which, by the way, is what I inform the parents at the tour. Also, the PEP (holding) fee does not go toward the tuition and is forfeited if the family ultimately does not enroll.

One way I make this work without loosing too much $$$ waiting for a spot to actually be occupied is to anticipate the open spots. So for instance, in CA a child is an infant until 24 months. I anticipate the children that will be turning 2 yrs old 3-6 months in advance and begin advertising for that infant spot way in advance so that I can hopefully pull in that expectant or new parent to pre-enroll for the spot.

If you would like more details of how I work my PEP program, just send me a PM with your email and I would be happy to share.
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Old 02-10-2016, 12:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thrivingchildcarecom View Post
I actually have what I call a Pre-Enrollment Program (PEP) that I created out of the need in my community to lock down an infant spot months (sometimes several) in advance. I agree with you that the closer to the actual care date is optimal, but with a shortage of infant spots many parents don't want to have to search and settle if they wait too long.

Hence the birth of the PEP program. We accept pre-enrollments 3-6 months prior to the child care need. I even had a parent pay the full tuition each month until they actually used the spot. I thought that was a bit much so I amended it to charge only $100 a month to hold the spot. Last year I amended that to charge a fee equal to one weeks tuition for each month we hold the spot. So if your infant tuition is $175/w the parent would need to pay $175 for each month you hold the spot for them. It is still way less than the full tuition that you would be receiving should a parent enroll in the spot tomorrow. Which, by the way, is what I inform the parents at the tour. Also, the PEP (holding) fee does not go toward the tuition and is forfeited if the family ultimately does not enroll.

One way I make this work without loosing too much $$$ waiting for a spot to actually be occupied is to anticipate the open spots. So for instance, in CA a child is an infant until 24 months. I anticipate the children that will be turning 2 yrs old 3-6 months in advance and begin advertising for that infant spot way in advance so that I can hopefully pull in that expectant or new parent to pre-enroll for the spot.

If you would like more details of how I work my PEP program, just send me a PM with your email and I would be happy to share.
See I would LOVE to do this!!! This is great idea, for me it probably wouldn't work out right now. My oldest DCK only just turned 1yr so they would be paying to hold for an entire year! Once he is a bit older thought I am totally going to try this though! Great idea!
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