10 Unusual Initiatives to
Shake Up Your Nursery Business
A few innovative ideas, tailored for nurseries.

Looking for ideas to freshen up your nursery setting?

We can all get stuck in our ways from time to time, whatever sort of business we run. But in the childcare industry, it’s not always easy to translate these ‘innovative’ ideas into ways that can actually benefit your nursery.

That’s why we’ve sifted through the lot of them, and come up with ten different ways you could actually make a difference to your business.

1. Swap your staff

Don’t worry, we don’t mean forever. But a temporary swap with another local childcare provider is our top tip on finding new ways to do things.

Start talking to some local providers, and offer to have one of their staff at your setting for a week in exchange for sending one of your practitioners over there. Great ways of developing play, activities, play areas – that’s just the beginning. It’s also a chance to find out how people are managing their setting, and get some ideas on how to promote and run your nursery based on what actually works in the area.

Strapped for cash?
No problem! Of course, you’ll still pay your staff for their time but you’ll have another practitioner to take their place. This one should come for free!

2. Share everything

Many business owners are afraid of sharing too much with their staff. Often they are protective of certain information with good reason.

But whether it’s the revenue you’re making, the amount you’re spending or being more clear on your goals and ambitions, the difference you notice when you start sharing with your staff can be extraordinary. Regardless of the business, staff value transparency. And what is it you’re really afraid of? Giving your staff an understanding of your challenges is key to motivating them and getting them onboard with your mission.

Strapped for cash?
You still don’t need to be afraid. In fact, this is when it can be most beneficial, helping to bring people together and find a way out.

3. Be different.

This isn’t the first time we’ve talked about finding your niche. But it’s really important to make sure that you’re offering something special that parents won’t find elsewhere.

Start by looking at what’s missing in the area. Is there a gap that you could fill? Then, start talking to parents. Ask them what they want from a daycare, what they expect, what they’d love to see in their local area. Once you’ve got these two pieces of information you should be much clearer on what will make you stand out from the crowd.

Strapped for cash?
Finding your niche needn’t be expensive. It could be as simple as working out if some of your existing staff have certain skills that you could utilise to offer special classes.

4. Be more flexible

Working out what parents want? Chances are you’re going to come to the same conclusion as everyone else. Flexibility.

Understandably, this is much easier said than done. Trying to organise lots of different children arriving at different times can be a real headache, and it can make filling up the quieter sessions even more difficult. But if you’re dedicated, and take the time to organise a system that lets you charge a premium for the more sought after sessions, increasing flexibility could increase your sign-ups tenfold.

Strapped for cash?
This one might seem like it’s about money, but really it’s about your organisation. If you can take the time to understand where and when you can be flexible, you should see an overall boost in your revenue.

5. Stop doing the stuff you’re not good at

Nursery owners and managers have to wear a thousand hats. Even more so if you run a small setting. But it’s easy to get bogged down in lots of things that really aren’t your speciality, just because there’s no one else to do them.

Try to look elsewhere. Hiring an ‘admin’ person, even for a few hours a week, can completely change the way you spend your time. You can also look inwards, and see if there are staff who might be interested in learning about marketing or are good with numbers. For a small pay rise, you can offer staff new responsibilities, and free up your own time for the tasks that will really make a difference to how much revenue you’re able to make each month.

Strapped for cash?
Finding help online can save you loads of time and money. Websites like Fiverr allow you to hire people to help you out for as little as $5.

6. Retrain your staff

Don’t feel like you’ve got the skills in your own team? Can’t afford to hire anyone else?

Why not look at retraining some of your own staff to take some tasks off your hands? Find out if there are any areas of the business they’d be interested in helping out with. That way, you get more engaged staff and help with some of your hectic workload. And keeping your staff engaged is one of the keys to keeping the best ones.

Strapped for cash?
This doesn’t mean you need to send staff on four figure courses. Guides, free courses, and cheap training can be found online, and all you need to do is allocate a few hours of paid time a week for them to spend on it.

7. Read

OK, so maybe this one isn’t so unusual. But there’s a reason why it’s an old favourite. If you want to make a change, what better place to find inspiration?

Try to make time in your life for reading a little more. Read some childcare experts, like Alistair Bryce Clegg, or Sue Cowley. Take a little from each one, and see how you can change things up at your setting. There are leadership books too, and business books that are nothing like the heavy textbooks you might imagine. Personally, I love Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, and anything by Daniel Pink. Check them out!

Strapped for cash?
Not everyone’s a book lover. Why not start listening to some audiobooks or podcasts on your morning drive? They’re normally cheaper (or free) too!

8. Treat your parents like they are potential customers

Once you’ve got parents on board, it’s easy to start focusing on attracting new customers. But it’s not always that simple.

Be careful with how you handle the parents. Keeping up good communication, sending them information and loyalty discounts, and making them feel a part of the nursery community. It all matters. Not only are these the people who will be singing your praises to their friends and family, but they might be just the people to help you fill those tricky Friday afternoon slots.

Strapped for cash?

No problem. Taking the time to send out a weekly message to parents, or providing them with a one off discount on their fees needn’t cost you the earth.

9. Make more notes

Specifically, when people first get in touch with you. One great tip we found from Lois Mitten Rosenberry was all about this, and it made a big difference to her business.

She always makes a note on the child’s name, parent’s information and what they’re looking for in a childcare provider whenever they make that first call. When they come in to take a look around, you can make sure to remember their child by name, and run them through the parts of your setting that will matter the most to them. It’s the little things.

Strapped for cash?

No problem. All it takes is a handy supply of post it notes.

10. Time to partner up

It’s time to stop competing, and start working together. The more you can talk to other providers in the area, the more you can learn and improve what you do.

It may even be that you can come to arrangements with other local businesses too. If you can find something that’s mutually beneficial, they may help to promote your setting for free, such as if you offer discounted rates to their customers or staff.

Strapped for cash?
It doesn’t have to be about money. You could simply exchange leaflets, or agree to promote their service to parents too.

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