Hey Iowa providers, guess what we are doing today? We are learning How to Grow a Backbone for our child care businesses. Think I'm kidding? I have heard too many providers mourn over not having a backbone when it comes to their business. Well no more! Today we are taking deliberate steps for growing that proverbial backbone that we need. I made sure to include actionable items that even an introvert can accomplish. So let's tackle How to Grow a Backbone.
Sounds serious huh? Well, it should. I have written several times about how crucial it is to a child care business to have a contract and policies. The only reason I have addressed it so much is because I truly believe that it is truly MAKE OR BREAK. Having even a basic contract and policies is the center bone (if you will) for growing your provider backbone. Do yourself a favor, get this one done!
A close second after getting your paperwork in order is making sure you are getting paid ON-TIME! So many providers list this as a top pain point. This can burn out an otherwise perfectly capable provider. I have heard all the excuses and maybe you have too. But the truth is, if your income is not reliable it is more than likely you will walk away from this profession. Sooner than later.
Instead, make deliberate steps to get this payment issue under control. Be firm about payment deadlines and your intention to enforce late fees and termination if needed. Think about this way; people pay their credit cards, utilities and other bills on time to avoid additional fees. Why should payment of childcare fees be any different?
Believe it or not, most of us don't think having set hours will be a main concern or issue. The fact is people will invade and take advantage of your time whenever it pops into their heads. I once wrote about how I used to receive child care inquiries during Sunday morning church service. So I made some changes.
I set business hours for my child care and advised my clients when I was available and (more importantly) when I wasn't. Since many of us have home based businesses, clients often get confused and forget that it is a business. Follow your own rules by avoiding business calls and having a way to capture messages so that you can reply at a later time.
Something I had to learn early on was that I had the ability and the authority to make changes. Whenever I had a less than pleasant experience, I made sure to make changes wherever needed to avoid a repeat. That can mean changes in your contract, payment procedures and/or hours. I have made changes to them all. It is so important to realize that "If it don't work ... CHANGE IT!"
Consider making it a habit to review your business practices at least once a year and tweak where needed.
Guess what? You are your child care's Chief Enforcement Officer (CEO). Great, another duty. But hang on, this one is one of the most important titles that comes along with running your child care.
According to the Binary Blogger, "Policies Are Only As Good As The Discipline Of Enforcement Behind Them." Now to be fair, they were referring to security, but no matter. This applies to our businesses as well. If providers are unwilling to enforce their policies they are, in fact, breaking them as well.
As the CEO, deploy strategies to avoid issues. Reminder notes, policy changes and fees deter habitual abusers of your policies. Great! That helps us build our backbone.
And DONE! Well, while I wish I could say winner, winner chicken dinner but I can't. The reality is even having grown a backbone does not necessarily mean you will not experience challenges with clients. You probably won't be able to avoid every issue. But you have created a solid foundation for running your child care.
This proverbial BACKBONE will serve as an advocate for running your business. You can lean against this backbone whenever you find you are having an issue with a client.
Sometimes you might need to make some adjustments to your backbone. But that's ok. Think of it as growing pains. "Straighten up and fly right." You now have a backbone.