5 Tips on Running a Successful Drop-In Program

Drop-in daycare can be a lifesaver for busy parents. Whether they have a last-minute meeting at the office or need a few kid-free hours to get their holiday shopping done, drop-in daycare gives them a trustworthy source for childcare at the last minute. It can be a lucrative revenue stream for your daycare center, too. Before you start a drop-in program, though, it’s important to know the pros and cons of adding one. You’ll need to know how to make a drop-in program successful with the right tips and tools, too.

The Pros and Cons of Offering Drop-In Programs

What’s great about adding a drop-in program to your daycare center?

  • It can be a nice revenue stream for your daycare business. As more parents are working from home, drop-in childcare is becoming a more popular option for families. It’s the perfect solution for those who need occasional childcare for in-person meetings or for a night out on the town. The added flexibility is appealing to parents, so you can charge a premium price for the service.
  • It could generate more business for your daycare center. Drop-in childcare can act as a “test run” for full-time childcare. If parents and kids enjoy your facility, they are more likely to come back. They are also more likely to sign up for a full or part-time care plan. You’ll get referrals from your drop-in care services, too, which can bring more families to your door.

What should you be aware of before you start offering drop-in daycare?

  • You may need to offer extended hours. Some drop-in programs stay open late into the evening to capture date night business. This can be a great way to boost your business, but be aware of the operating costs. You’ll need staff who can work odd hours (and you may need to pay them more for it). Make sure you are getting a return on your operational investment.
  • You won’t have the same kind of relationship with the parents or kids. When you are seeing the same families each day, you build a strong relationship with them as their childcare provider. When you are only seeing the families once a week, once a month, or even a few times a year, then your relationship will be much different.

Five Tips for a Successful Drop-In Daycare Service

1. Make Sure You Meet or Exceed State Requirements

The requirements for drop-in childcare aren’t the same as those for a traditional daycare program. You’ll want to check with your state to see what the requirements are and make sure you meet them. Requirements will vary depending on the kind of drop-in service you provide. This will include things like whether you serve meals or are willing to change diapers. Make it your goal to not only meet those standards but exceed them. Parents will naturally have more concerns about using a drop-in facility for the first time. Seeing the extra care you’ve taken to prepare the space will put their minds at ease. It’s also more likely to make them a repeat customer.

2. Start a Membership Program

Before parents use your service for the first time, ask them to enroll in your membership program. This allows you to get all their information before the first drop-off and ensure it’s all correct. You can also perform a parent orientation at this time. This allows you to get to know your parents a bit better and helps them understand the process and procedure of bringing their child to your daycare. It’s a good security practice to know your parents before they drop-in the first time, too.

3. Charge a Premium for Drop-In Care

Make sure you are charging a higher hourly rate for drop-in care versus your regular daycare. Remember, you are offering a premium service, so parents are going to be willing to pay more for it. You’ll probably be paying your daycare staff a premium for evening hours, too, so be sure to factor that into your costs. Consider charging a small monthly membership fee for parents to access your drop-in services. This gives you a consistent revenue stream apart from the drop-in rates. Offer bonuses with their monthly fees, such as a welcome package or free t-shirts for the kids.

4. Set Time and Usage Limits on Drop-In Care

Drop-in childcare isn’t a substitute for a full-time nanny. Your hourly rates should prevent parents from taking advantage of your service, but make sure you set strict rules on how long they can leave their child and when they need to pick them up. Some states limit the amount of time a child can spend in drop-in care, too, so be aware of what the rules are in your state. Make sure parents are aware of the rules and strictly enforce them. Adding a fee for late pick-up or staying over the time limit should help prevent any issues. Use a check-in and check-out process to track time, too.

5. Make Sure You Can Reach Parents When Necessary

Make sure you have a quick way to get ahold of parents when the need arises. Calling their cell phone is an obvious solution. Some facilities use vibrating pagers (like you’d use when waiting for a table at a restaurant) to get the parents’ attention. Verify all contact information before parents leave so you know it’s correct. Make sure you know where the parents are going in case you need to contact them there (such as if their cell phone isn’t working). All the parents’ contact information along with details on the child needs to be somewhere your entire team can access. Prime Child Care Software is an ideal solution for drop-in childcare centers. It allows you to keep accurate records for each family. It also manages the check-in process and attendance tracking so you know you are in-line with state regulations. You can even take payments through the software, making it easy to grab fees for those last-minute drop-offs before parents walk out the door. Bring the benefits of drop-in childcare to your daycare center and streamline the process with Prime Child Care Software. Schedule a live demo for your team today.
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