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Fireyesblue
07-15-2014, 03:14 PM
So, I got my first email from a mom saying she was interested in meeting me. I am opening for October.

I haven't replied back - what kind of questions should I reply back with in terms of pre-screening? After we have exchanged our questions, would it be in best practice to send her my policy handbook to review in detail and then set up a time to meet? I have some basic policies on my website (sickness, etc) but my vacation, closures etc are not listed. I figure if she agrees with what I have in place she will still be interested.

Advice? I would like to keep my interview style on the casual side.
Cheers :)

Wonderwiper
07-15-2014, 04:55 PM
Hi!

I also like to keep things very casual...others will offer more detailed advice than me!

I ask pretty basic things like hours/days needed. I always tell people my rates so that I'm not wasting time with someone looking for something cheaper. I also ask if they have backup care(family close by etc.).

Best of luck!

DCMG
07-15-2014, 05:59 PM
I always prefer to speak to them over the phone, it is much more personal and tone can't be misunderstood on the phone. I always ask the basic questions over the phone. Hours, days, where they live (for school zone), what they are looking for from a daycare. I then go over basics, my philosophy, my basic day, how many children I care for, my family (how many kids, married etc.). Then I would set up an in-home interview and after that I email them that same night if I am interested in them as a potential client I email my contract, policies, handbook...all that good stuff. I also always let them know I am also interviewing other families for the spot (even if I am not) and to please let me know if they are interested in the spot so I can choose the best fit for my daycare. This allows me to step back and reflect on the interview to decide if it really is a good fit before I say yes to someone. Good luck.

Fireyesblue
07-15-2014, 07:01 PM
Thanks! I asked her what hours she needed and if she looked over my website (rates, etc) and how old her son was and when she wanted him to start.

She answered all the basics, and said he was currently enrolled in another daycare but that it was costing too much and the place was inconvenient (should I probe further or is is irrelevant?) My hours are 7-5 and she said she needed 730-5 but 5:15 would be ideal. Do I bend my rule to accommodate? I don't know! I think there is a bit of a language barrier, she's quite francophone and I am not (I live in a highly francophone community) she said she loved my website and although they were looking for Sept care they would be willing to wait until Oct if they found the perfect place.

Here's my thing - she asked how many kids I care for and how many will be in my care in Oct and if my kids are leaving and that's why I have availability. I'm just OPENING I don't advertise that unless they ask....how should I respond? I have years of experience working with children and I am a mommy to a 1 year old (and 35). I know this may be a turn off but hoping it's not such a bad thing! Should I answer back her questions and attach my policies to review or should I see how she feels about me just opening? Sorry for all the q's!

Lee-Bee
07-15-2014, 07:33 PM
Thanks! I asked her what hours she needed and if she looked over my website (rates, etc) and how old her son was and when she wanted him to start.

She answered all the basics, and said he was currently enrolled in another daycare but that it was costing too much and the place was inconvenient (should I probe further or is is irrelevant?) My hours are 7-5 and she said she needed 730-5 but 5:15 would be ideal. Do I bend my rule to accommodate? I don't know! I think there is a bit of a language barrier, she's quite francophone and I am not (I live in a highly francophone community) she said she loved my website and although they were looking for Sept care they would be willing to wait until Oct if they found the perfect place.

Here's my thing - she asked how many kids I care for and how many will be in my care in Oct and if my kids are leaving and that's why I have availability. I'm just OPENING I don't advertise that unless they ask....how should I respond? I have years of experience working with children and I am a mommy to a 1 year old (and 35). I know this may be a turn off but hoping it's not such a bad thing! Should I answer back her questions and attach my policies to review or should I see how she feels about me just opening? Sorry for all the q's!

For some it will be a deal breaker...when I first opened I just told the families (in person not email or phone as they never asked) that I was just coming off Mat leave. If they asked if I had been doing home daycare before mat leave I said they we used to live in a condo and were waiting until we had a place with enough space for home daycare then listed relevant experience.

If they ask in email or on phone you need to answer...typically I tried to avoid letting them ask this before coming in person...so I could win them over with my daycare set up and myself.

Fireyesblue
07-15-2014, 07:45 PM
I know! I was hoping for the same thing, Lee-Bee that I would be able to sell myself during our in-person meeting, but now I will have to try even harder to sell myself! I suppose I could have emailed back right away saying "sure, let's meet..." without asking her any questions; but I think it was right to ask some questions so I know what I was working with. She asked the right questions though - kudos to her. Lol bad for me ;) I'll just respond truthfully and sincerely and ask if she would still like to meet. Fingers crossed.

DCMG
07-15-2014, 08:33 PM
I would definitely probe further into her leaving her current provider. As far as her asking how many children...could you give general info about the DNA. Like "I will only care for a maximum of 5 children at a time to stay in line with the daycare act. If she will be your only client come Oct then I think you do need to be up front but if you have a few children starting then you could tell her the amount of children you'd have come Oct. Try to talk with her over the phone instead of email. It's easier to get your tone across and have a easy conversation. Good Luck.

mickyc
07-15-2014, 09:19 PM
For myself I just ask the basics over email - days/hours of care needed, child's name and birthdate. I always send a copy of my contract via email. If they aren't willing to follow the rules then don't waste my time. I have a little blurb at the beginning of my contract that gives info about me and my family. I just tell them to review my contract and if they would like to set up a meeting then let me know what time is the best. DO NOT change your hours for this lady unless you want that to be your new hours. If we accommodate every request we will be working 24 hours a day - 7 days a week. Figure out what is important to you as far as your contract and stick to it. When she comes for the interview then ask if she has a positive or negative experience at their previous daycare. Usually that begins the conversation.

Fireyesblue
07-15-2014, 09:33 PM
K! See, initially, I just was looking for the basics and was planning on sending my contract via email (just like you mickyc) but she caught me off guard when she asked how many were in my care - which are none but come October I am HOPING to have 2+1 (my daughter) do I just say I am opening in October? Keep it simple?

mickyc
07-15-2014, 09:58 PM
Yes I would be honest and just say you are opening in October and then say how many children you are hoping to have in your care (including your own child).

Busy ECE mommy
07-16-2014, 09:43 AM
Just be honest that you're going back to work after mat. leave and how many kids you are allowed for DNA. Do not bend your hours on the first client.
I ask all kinds of phone screening questions about hours/backup care/previous daycare/why leaving/personality/eating habits/sleeping/toileting/do they co-sleep or own bed/allergies/medical issues such as asthma/met all developmental milestones/immunized/socialization with other kids/how they discipline/are they on a wait list elsewhere etc. I find the phone conversation is very telling when you hear their responses and if they hesitate when responding to questions etc. Then if I think it's a good fit, I do the in-house interview with the whole family present. Watching the whole family interact can be very interesting as well.

5 Little Monkeys
07-18-2014, 10:46 PM
I am so sorry....I just replied to your email that you sent earlier this week!! I was on holidays and trying not to be on the computer much!!

Aside from what I said in my email, I also would recommend not changing your hours and being honest about just opening. We have all been in your shoes when we first opened and parents understand this. I have no children of my own which I thought might be a red flag to parents but it actually turns out that it usually gives me an upper hand as parents know I am doing this because I enjoy my job and not just to stay home with my own. (even though that is a perfectly reasonable reason to open a hdc and will be a huge benefit when/if I have my own!! lol)

Rachael
08-14-2014, 06:54 AM
I think everyone deals with this differently so there isn't a firm answer.

This is what I tend to do...

Most of my initial inquiries come via an e-mail. What I tend to do is schedule a telephone conversation initially.

I can tell a lot about a person from a telephone call. Their tone and inflection gives more clues as to how straight forward they are to deal with, their needs, their requirements etc.

I have learned to make sure I ask from the get-go what hours they need for care and if they are seeking full time or part time. So many times an ad for a FT place is answered by someone looking for PT and so many times parents just don't see the opening hours on the ad or feel that they are negotiable. Asking these questions at the beginning of the conversation, saves a lot of wasted time.

I then explain how my day care runs, what a normal day looks like, and I make sure to listen to their responses. I also explain at this stage what my sickness/vacation policies are, and what my discipline polices are. For me, I have learned that if a client and I are not on the same page in terms of discipline, it doesn't work. Carer's who are less structured than a set of parents with their discipline, can make the parents feel like they are being undermined. Parents who are less structured that a carer with their discipline can result in a carer feeling lack of support with any future issues or that the carer is overly harsh. For me, the discipline is a major matter where we need to be on the same page.

Admittedly, these telephone calls can often take an hour or so but it's an hour that can be scheduled during nap time when it doesn't infringe on my attention to the day care children and where it doesn't impact on my family time either. At the end of the call, both the parents and I will have a good feel for each other, are able to determine if my service meets their needs, and are able to make a judgement about if we can work together on a personal level to ensure the success of their child.

If I don't feel they are a good fit for my business, then I say so there and then. There's no need to take their inquiry any further and neither of us has wasted time having a face-t-face meeting.

If I feel this is a good fit for my business, I will then suggest we schedule a face-to-face meeting where they can see my day home, where they can review my insurance, first aid and CPR certifications, my police check etc (I'm a trust but verify person). I also get an e-mail address for them so I can sent them my contract and handbook to review prior to our interview.

This gives them a chance to review all my documentation and to either ask questions via e-mail prior to our meeting or to make sure to raise any issues during interview. The interview itself is then reasonably short because all of the big issues have already been covered and they are merely looking at the environment and meeting me.

I am clear at interview that any vacancy goes to the first person who is a good fit, who pays their deposit and hands me a signed contract. And that until I have both of those, I will continue to advertise. I never hold a place for someone until their deposit is paid and until I have a signed contract. I also will not hold a current vacancy for months and months. The longest I will hold a current vacancy for a future start date is one month - and only then if they pay a 50% retainer on the place. That way, we both have made an financial investment in the relationship.

I will hold a place for longer, if they pay in full for that place as I don't see why I should take the full financial loss for holding a place for a complete stranger for an extended period of time, to give them peace of mind of a placement when they return to work.

The only time I don't charge a retainer for holding a place, is if it's not currently available. i.e. At this stage, I know I have one going to school in September 2015. Since I know for sure that he won't be here after that time, I will likely start seeking a replacement for him about 4-6 months before. In that instance, if I find a suitable replacement long before it happens, I wouldn't charge a retainer, just require the deposit and contract, since I would not be out of pocket in holding that place due to it being occupied anyway.


My hours are 7-5 and she said she needed 730-5 but 5:15 would be ideal. Do I bend my rule to accommodate? Entirely up to you. 15 mins isn't that much but I tend to stick to my business hours. Does the 15 mins impact you negatively in anyway? Will it make it hard for you to meet your personal/family commitments (dentists, doctors) by adding that 15 mins which might take you beyond opening hours of places you need to be.


Here's my thing - she asked how many kids I care for and how many will be in my care in Oct and if my kids are leaving and that's why I have availability. I'm just OPENING I don't advertise that unless they ask....how should I respond? Be honest. These are both reasonable and common questions. Yes, the truth might be a turn off but not being honest could manipulate someone into making a decision they wouldn't have made with the full facts. If a potential client has determined that they want an experienced day care provider, that is entirely their right and choice. For those it doesn't matter to, being honest won't change the outcome.

We are all eliminated from certain potential clients for a number of reasons, hours, location, personal situation, experience level, but being less than honest will ruin your reputation and it's not worth less than full disclosure.