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  1. #1
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    Default filling your spaces...

    I have a part time child on my books, and another even more part timer starting in September(2 mornings a week) and 2 before school for 1 hour, for 2 morning per week(£5p/h per child) but I need more work! I love childminding, and started in March but if things don't pick up I may have to look for other work I live in an area where I can only charge a maximum of £4p/h (I charge £3.50 lunch and snacks inc), so with one part timer it's not even minimum wage. I have paid for a childcare subscription for a month (but struggled to afford it) but there are hardly any parents looking for childcare. I haven't got any enquiries through FIS or word of mouth yet! There is no network of childminders in my area, so I can't network that way. I am familiar with the local pre school and they have said they will consider me if someone approaches them (they offer care from 2+), I have attended the local toddler group for the last 6 years but no work that way either. Please tell me everyone goes through difficult spells and it will pick up???? Feeling

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    I completed a business course prior to launching my education consultancy side and the message was definately to find your unique selling point so that if only one person is out there...they choose you. Research local pre schools and nurseries and childminders and find a gap that you could fill in a niche way.

    A local pre school that is near to the railway station gave out flyers to commuters. A friend of mine who runs a catering business purchased little plastic leaflet display stands and filled it with promotional info and took it around to big businesses ....every so often she goes around to refill them and takes biscuits...she has generated a lot of business this way.

    In one of my previous life schools, a childminder had a table and did face painting, profit went to school but she gave colouring sheets out to match the face painting she did with a blurb about herself and contact details...she ended up with a waiting list as everyone loved her, she showed her personality and empathy and fun with the children.

    I was feeding the ducks the other day and heard an aggressive voice coming from the playground, I obviously looked round to see a lady wearing a sweat top advertising her business getting cross with two lads who were not responding to her instructions to leave the park. I do not know what led up to her having to use this voice...but unfortunately it did not sound nice and didn't match the logo being advertised on her top! The moral of this tale is that wherever you are with the children you are on show so you need to show your positive side at all times! Lots of local childminders advertise themselves on their clothing and a magnetic advert on their cars.
    Most of my clientel comes from word of mouth, friends/ colleagues of parents with a couple coming from childcare. Co. UK...but I do get a lot of enquiries via this site...the parents often though don't read about me and want holiday care only or baby care when it says I have no availability in this area!

    It does take a while to build up your reputation though.

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  4. #3
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    I agree with FloraDora.

    Worth offering something that fits the local needs. eg. If you have a hospital nearby, can you offer what the shift-workers need? Can you advertise on the noticeboards of a local hospital or college, f'rinstance?

    Signing up part timers can feel like 'second best', but I've built up my CMing on part-timers alone. There are down-sides, but it does get your reputation and word-of-mouth out there a lot quicker. Three part-time mums will tell 3 times as many people about their CM than 1 full-timer.

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  6. #4
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    I also have spent my career with part timers. I have only has one child full time for one year during the past twelve!!

    Have you mentioned to your current parents that you have vacancies, and what with September coming round so quickly, do they need any extra hours/ days etc?

    Are you able to offer funding? Contact your Development Officer or their equivalent, or department who organise the funding, and ask if they need anyone for funding?

    In my area, it is currently so very busy, I have never known it so before. BUT at other times it can be so quiet.

    While you have your childcare.co.uk membership, keep logging on to get your name to the top of the list, and maybe contact parents directly.

    Don't loose heart, you will get there.

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  8. #5
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    I have seen a few childminders posting adverts on local Facebook pages and they seem to be getting interest that way. A lot of my business has come from word of mouth and talking to anyone and everyone at the local schools and pre schools who have then mentioned me to friends and family etc. I have a lot of part-timers but just lately they are starting to fit in together almost like 2 full timers. Hang in there something will hopefully come up for you soon.

  9. #6
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    thanks for all your kind words, after all this work to get registered I shall work hard as long as I can to get some more work!

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    More specifically, which bit is causing the problem? ie:
    • Are you getting potential clients to visit but they aren't proceeding to contract
    • or
    • Are people phoning up/emailing but not getting as far as visiting?
    • or
    • Is nobody making enquiries?


    Does the range of advertising methods listed represent the full extent of what you've tried?

  11. #8
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    I've had 2 families visit and said they liked me and the setting, and haven't got back to me (I think they think its pay-as-you-go childcare), second as mentioned in a previous post a contract with sure start on behalf of a child/family. Then there is the small point I get no enquiries!

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    Quote Originally Posted by primrosecottage View Post
    I've had 2 families visit and said they liked me and the setting, and haven't got back to me (I think they think its pay-as-you-go childcare), second as mentioned in a previous post a contract with sure start on behalf of a child/family. Then there is the small point I get no enquiries!
    Ok, so 2 families have been, liked it, but not liked the price. It's not a big enough 'sample group' to say definitively that you're too expensive or need to revise your fees. Tbh, if they're looking for pay-as-you-go childcare, they probably ain't gonna find it and you probably don't want them to find it with you ! But if you offered PAYG in the short term, then you're at least up and running. Just make it clear that you can't do PAYG indefinitely, if that develops into more regular work.

    Think 'bout it. If you were selling your house and 2 couples came round and said it was sort-of what they were looking for but you were asking too much, would you immediately panic and phone the estate agent to knock down the asking price by £50k or so? Really? No. But I might want to know why only 2 couples had been to view, and maybe look at casting the net a bit wider to attract more interest.

    There are 4 possibilities:
    1. Nobody wants childcare.
    2. You're a bit rubbish.
    3. You're a bit expensive.
    4. You need to do more to attract enquiries.


    There is absolutely no firm evidence of 1,2 or 3 - so the best thing you can do is concentrate on option 4.

    You've mentioned a childcare.co.uk sub; word of mouth; preschool and toddler group. That's actually not a lot of promotion. There are a lot of free or very cheap places where you can put up a card or small poster, if you just stick your neck out and ask permission. Think especially of places where mums go: health centre, children's centre, doc/dentist waiting room, shop/supermarket 'for sale' boards, post office, community noticeboards, libraries, hospital, uni/college, any big employers, the list goes on. You'll know what's local to your area.

    It might mean a bit of an investment of cash or time. I know a couple who started CMing and needed a lot of clients fast to justify it. They took out an ad in a local quality free magazine and did a leaflet drop around the village. This advertised their service and drew people to an open day they held, to get parents into their setting, meet them and see the place. One clever thing about the open day: parents saw other parents there, which perhaps made them think "hey this place is popular, we'd better get in before all the places go." You never know...........

    It's also worth considering all the 'bits & pieces' work that nobody else wants to do. I know a lot of CMs who sit around wondering why they lack clients, but they reject or refuse too many opportunities. Consider school/pre-school wraparound care; ad hoc; etc. Do mums or grandparents just want a break every week or occasionally for shopping/housework/appointments. I get a lot of business where grandparents provide care for part of the week, but like to know they have a day or 2 to themselves. Even, dare I say it, babysitting. You might need to be careful not to get locked into too many odd hours,etc. that could prove a pain in the long-run, but for now the key is to try and get some parents who use you and promote you. The more people who use you, no matter how briefly, the more you'll get recommended. That adds the element of parental trust that is crucial when you're just starting out.

    Btw, how does all this stack up against your pre-reg business plan in terms of local demand for childcare and how do your fees look against comparable local settings?
    Last edited by bunyip; 03-08-2015 at 11:33 AM.

  13. #10
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    Thanks once again for the useful advice. Perhaps I could pop up a few more ads, and a leaflet drop, perhaps try and see if there is any cheapish ads I can pay to put in the parish news. It's not that I'm desperate to make massive profits, if I was 'in it for the money' I could have chosen a different career, but I love working with children and love childminding I would like to cover my costs initially - including the ongoing outlay of paying for a 7 seater car, which was a must (as we live in a rural area) , then hopefully I can have a bit of pocket money for myself. I'm already approved to take funded children, and although I effectively take a cut in my wage to do so, I would like to offer this option to parents, however, I have had no takers yet! I generally find, there is a consensus of mums at toddlers who will always use these hours at a 'setting' rather than in my home based environment. There is certainly a lot to think about...

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    Sorry just changing the subject quickly for a second Bunyip-- saying this really quietly heats Ad hoc ?????? now hiding.

    carry on with subject

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    whats not heats

  17. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragonfly View Post
    Sorry just changing the subject quickly for a second Bunyip-- saying this really quietly heats Ad hoc ?????? now hiding.

    carry on with subject
    Ad hoc care is an 'as and when' arrangement.

    You do the preliminary visit, make sure everyone is happy with each other, policies, etc. Then get all the essential permissions, child information, etc. done and put a contract in place to confirm the fees, etc. but the key thing is there are no regular days/hours shown on the contract.

    Any time the parent wants you to provide care they call and request (note: "request" - not "demand" a booking). It's then up to you if you accept the booking, depending on availability and/or whether you fancy it.) Essentially, the client is not guaranteeing to offer you any work and you are not guaranteeing to accept if they do offer.

    Depending on people's work patterns and lifestyles it can be a very useful arrangement. I've had some clients who are entirely ad hoc. Additionally, I offer ad hoc for the holiday periods for all my TTO clients, and that works well too. Obviously you have to be pretty confident you'll do some actual work for the client as some point, or it's not worth doing all the paperwork and preparation.

    The key is to make sure the client realises that they are never guaranteed a place on this basis and they must understand you are not at their beck and call 24/7 for PAYG childcare.

    It's also worth putting some thought into a few extra little Ts&Cs for ad hoc contracts. I'll send mine to you as a PM.

  18. #14
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    I may consider some more ad hoc arrangements to fill spaces in the short term, as parents do like maximum flexibility I have found! I would be interested in the extra terms and conditions you would suggest I should include if this situation would arise in the future.

  19. #15
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    oh and the point about retaining the control over what to accept and when to say no is something I hope to get better at as I have more experience under my belt. Sometimes it is difficult to say no isn't it.

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  21. #16
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    Wht about trying your local authority. Ours will add childminders to the list of childcare vacancies. They hand out through FISH (families information service hub.
    Also have you got a local childrens centre, school notice boards?

  22. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by bunyip View Post
    Ad hoc care is an 'as and when' arrangement.s.
    I often get extra bits from my current parents -for hospital visit, estate agent coming round, mum able to do a days overtime at work, wedding anniversaries, parents evenings, meetings, training days, Mum or Dad delayed at work, etc. the list goes on....
    By having part timers and spaces, I am able to offer some flexibility to my parents. If I have a space on that day, i will always say yes. Some of my AD Hoc may be a one off or last a term (which actually ran onto a year, plus next year too!)

    As I suggested in my previous post, let your current parents know what you have extra spaces during week. It might help your parents, if one parent always has to break their neck to get to school on time, or should be at a meeting later in the day.

    When the time comes and your vacancies are filled by proper contracted children, (or you cannot be bothered anymore!), then you can say no to the Ad Hoc care.

    I have found that September and January are the most popular times for parents to return to work, so it's often the most popular time for looking for childcare. Now is the time to put the effort in.

    I am currently on holiday in France, but have my diary with me, and have already penciled in an appointment with a family for when I return for a September start parent. Plus checking childcare.co.uk regularly to keep to the top of the search list and every time someone looks at me.

    Good luck

  23. #18
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    Thanks I shall ask my existing parents whether they need any extra hours. I just think in my area a lot of families are feeling the credit crunch still and are cutting back even on good quality childcare. I hope things will improve as the year wears on with a bit more advertising on my side.

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    Thank you bunyip

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    Simona Guest

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    There are 2 types of Ad Hoc care
    1. the one where parents ring you up and need care ...say tomorrow...no notice but still subject to availability for children 0-8 but not required for over 8s

    2. contracted occasional care...it is still ad hoc, still subject to availability and age but parents have a contract because the care falls in specific times.
    Parents may choose not to send a child but because it is contracted fees are due. It is often used for older children


    FIS...if you feel you are not getting enquiries from them do ring them and 'update' your vacancies.
    Some FIS require cms to update their profile regularly or tend to believe the cm is not interested in advertising on their database and remove the cm's name....FIS are duty bound to advertise childcare vacancies under the Childcare Act.

    Another way of filling spaces is to have a group of cms who pass on their details to other cms when they are full...it can work very well.
    In view of future govt's plans also start liaising with nurseries and above all pre-schools because more and more children will share the 30 hours where preschools cannot offer this.

    Part time childcare...the introduction of the 15 hrs years ago caused part time childcare to boom.
    A non working parent of a 3 or 4 year old can claim the 15 hours as it is a universal care at the moment ...but will not be for the 30 hurs because both parents have to work.
    It will be even more so in future when the 30 hours is introduced

    Primerosecottage....I don't think there is anything wrong in 'making a profit' as you are self employed and running a small business....it gets to be useful when cms apply for credit/loans or a mortgage to show we make some small profit.

    We are all in a way 'in it for the money' in the sense we too have mortgages and families to support but choose a business many really like

    I think when the Tax Credits are abolished or reduced many cms will tend to review their business model and make a profit
    Last edited by Simona; 04-08-2015 at 07:33 AM.

 

 
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