9 Digital Tools
For a Smarter Nursery Business
A whole load of free tools to make your life easier.

What’s your attitude towards digital? A nursery manager’s job nowadays is more varied than ever before, and they need to make sure that they keep up on where the action is happening – online.

Parents expect communication straight to their pocket. Staff expect to be able to work and collaborate online. And let’s face it, the right technology can make your life more hassle-free, simpler, and save you precious time.

So here’s just some of our favourite tools, many of which we use ourselves in the Famly office, as do the hundreds of customers that we talk to every day.

1. Employee Planning

Pretty much does what it says on the tin. There are various different tools that do slightly different things, but they’re all about keeping your organisation, planning and communication in one place.

Why do I need it?

They’re particularly useful for part-time staff. These tools reduce the never-ending back and forth that comes with trying to fit staffing around holiday, differing schedules and ratios.

Any Suggestions?

  • WhenIWork – Sends people updates of when they’re working and helps you handle time-off requests. Claims to save an average of 8 hours a week for businesses.
  • Doodle Polls – Create quick, shareable polls to get easy feedback on people’s preferences, whether you’re planning an event, need to organise a staff meeting, or need people’s sizes to order uniforms.
  • Slack – Used by start-ups and small businesses all over the world, it’s a free service to help you communicate more easily. Send private messages, or create different group chats with select individuals.
2. Designing Nice Stuff

Using programs to make things look nice used to be impossible for anyone without a design degree. Nowadays, there are loads of free online sites that let you make beautiful posters, collages, displays and posts for social media, all in minutes.

Why do I need it?
Taking steps to market your nursery in your local area can make a huge difference to your occupancy. Design programs can help you make leaflets to distribute to local shops, create beautiful images for your social media accounts, or simply help you make better displays.

Any Suggestions?

  • Canva – This is our favourite tool out there. Super simple to use, it comes with templates for designs of every kind and gives you a hand with getting the right sizes for different formats.
  • Pablo – Specifically designed for social media, Pablo helps you to make posts that catch people’s eyes on the newsfeed, and help you to reach more parents.
  • Unsplash – Need photos for your design project but don’t have any of your own? Most ‘stock’ photo sites are pretty rubbish. Or expensive. But Unsplash is completely free and high quality – we use it for all our photos, and we absolutely love it.
3. Sharing Documents

Send documents back and forth with other people in your team, without having to endlessly email or worry whether you’re working on the latest draft.

Why do I need it?
Whether you’re creating documents for parents, sending out a rota, or sharing key data and figures with your team, these services will help you share easily, and keep everything safe just where you need it.

Any Suggestions?

  • Google Drive – Something we use every day. Share and collaborate on documents, spreadsheets, presentations and more. Starting with over 15GB of storage for free.
  • Dropbox – One of the most popular services out there, Dropbox offers 2GB of free storage and loads of intuitive applications to make working together even easier.
  • Box – A more professional service, with an emphasis on security, Box pricing starts at £3.50 a month for 100GB data and 10 team members.
4. Nursery Management Software

Systems range hugely in terms of features, price and quality, but most are about ensuring that you have everything you need all in one place. They can help speed up invoicing, registration, observations, parent communication, staff management, occupancy control – the list is endless.

Why do I need it?
OK, so we know we might be a little biased on this one. But with every month, more and more nurseries are choosing to take their nursery digital. The software available is leaps and bounds from where it was even a year or two ago, and these more user-friendly systems can genuinely save you hours every single day.

Any Suggestions?

  • Famly – Time to blow our own trumpet. The most user-friendly system out there, Famly can help you with everything you need to run your nursery, all in one place. Join us for a demo and you can see for yourself.
5. Social Media Planning

Instead of posting the same thing to different social media platforms, just make one post and share it across the different platforms with a click. You can even schedule posts to go out later, respond to messages, and see how many people have seen your posts.

Why do I need it?
Part of an effective marketing strategy for any nursery is using social media to talk to parents, both prospective and existing. Being able to schedule all of your posts in one, easy-to-use format can help save countless wasted hours.

Any Suggestions?

  • HootSuite – With the HootSuite free plan, you can manage up to three different profiles at once. It helps you to schedule content, understand some basic analytics, and even get started with some basic advertising.
  • Buffer – This is what we use at Famly. It’s simple, and lets you manage up to five accounts, schedule content, and see basic analytics. It even comes integrated with free image creator Pablo.
6. Keeping Notes

Keep all of your notes, to-do lists and reminders in one place. Even better, they sync across devices. So if you make a note on your computer, it will show up on your phone. Nice.

Why do I need it?
Are you a post-it note addict? I know I am. But when you lose that crucial parent phone number or spend hours searching through your twenty notebooks to find that lesson plan, it can all start to get a little…inconvenient.

Any Suggestions?

  • Google Keep – Linked to a Gmail account, Google Keep is very user-friendly. Make notes or create checklists, and you can even colour code them if you want to find things quickly. The search function is pretty handy, and you can pin notes to the top so that they always show up first.
  • Evernote – A little more complex, Evernote lets you create notebooks, add different tags to order your notes, and add reminders. We like how you easily add website links and images right into the notes themselves.
7. Sending Better Emails

Send emails out to whoever you need to, without having to click the send button 179 times. These services let you send newsletters or short notes to parents with a lot less effort.

Why do I need it?
Parents expect more and more communication these days. Updates, news about the nursery, information – whatever it is, you need to find an easy way to communicate to them that doesn’t take all your time.

Any Suggestions?

  • MailChimp – The choice for small businesses around the world. You can drag and drop elements to make beautifully designed emails in seconds, and it’s completely free so long as you’re sending out to less than 2,000 people.
  • Tiny Letter – Need something a bit simpler? Tiny Letter is your answer. Send clean, unfussy emails quickly.
8. Easier Accounting

Helps you manage your money. Taxes, receipts, invoicing, accounting, direct debits. If you’re handling money, you’re probably going to want something to help you with it.

Why do I need it? To keep track of revenue, and make sure nothing slips through the cracks. If you want to improve your profitability, it’s going to be key to be on top of everything.

Any Suggestions?

  • Wave – This free (yes free) accounting software was made for non-accountants, and is very simple to use. You can do accounting, invoicing and receipt scanning for free, and pay per transaction for money collection. Lacks some of the customisation of more expensive services.
  • Quickbooks/SagePay/Xero – These are the three big guns. Used my most nurseries in the UK, take a look at what they offer to find the service that suits what you need from accounting software.
9. Improve Your Writing

Everything from ironing out those common grammar and spelling mistakes, to helping you communicate in simple, readable language.

Why do I need it?
Reports, observations, messaging staff, communicating with parents – it all matters how you write. Keeping your writing clear and free of spelling mistakes is crucial to making your business look professional.

Any Suggestions?

  • Grammarly – Probably my favourite tool on the whole list. Add it as an extension to your internet browser, and it’ll automatically spell check all your work, and give you suggestions to improve your grammar. Never make a mistake again.
  • Hemingway App – Put any text into this app, and it’ll give you advice on how to make your writing easy to read. It’s that simple.
  • Google Docs – Our favourite place to write anything. Collaborate with other people in your team, leave comments or suggestions, and easily share documents with anyone.

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