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  1. #1
    Expansive...
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    Ladies, learn from my mistakes...

    What are the biggest mistakes you made? Changed your policies, bent the rules for someone? Share here, anonymously, even just message me and i'll post for you, let us learn!

  2. #2
    Expansive... Other Mummy's Avatar
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    Biggest mistake was not having a contract when I first started! I didn't enforce anything really. I was taken advantage of...being a newbie, I did not screen properly and was so anxious for clients that I took just about anyone who was interested in my daycare. For example, I let 7:30am drop offs become 7:15, then 7:10am...I did not charge late fees, Classic newbie mistakes. Fast forward to almost 2.5 years later and I am a completely different provider. With completed different families (except 1 who started with me and is still a "golden family"). My families know I enforce all my rules, I'm the funny one who dances around with the kiddies whilst wearing a block bead necklace that the kids made me, but I'm strictly professional and downright to business with the parents! I'm my own boss and it feels awesome!

    ...I wish I could go back in time, ring my own doorbell and when my 2.5yrs younger self answers it...slap myself silly

  3. #3
    Euphoric !
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    Other Mummy, I could have written the same post! I started out without a contract and basically without a clue. I was open from 7am to 6pm most of the time because I accepted families into care without a thought for myself and was concentrating on getting my business started. I charged way too little. My first dcfamily ran out without notice or paying. I terminated two other families that first year due to major problems.

    So over the next 4 years I perfected a contract, shortened my hours to 7:30am-5pm, raised my rates, made a website and learned how to interview and choose great families. Now I'm always full and have great references and people recommend me to their friends and families. I'm always turning people away and about 2 minutes ago I recommended a friend to someone who called me out of the blue looking for a daycare space.

    But you know what? Other Mummy (if I may speak for you please?) and I are here to advise others going through what we have been through and we are happy to share our experiences on this forum. We obviously don't want others to suffer.
    Frederick Douglass
    It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.

  4. #4
    Expansive... dodge__driver11's Avatar
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    I had a horrible first 6-8 months doing daycare...And here are some of the reasons why. (Posted this on another thread, changed it a bit and posted it here.)

    People in my building called early learning on me ALL THE TIME!! So did other providers in my community, I cried, I whinced, I worried and I wondered why. But you know what? As soon as I stopped worrying about people's thoughts on me being a wheelchair user...Suddenly my stress level went down and they haven't been here in a long time, hell you know what I have even had a lady call CAS on me (in my building) because she was worried for my son...Well guess what? They found nothing and the social workers who came said "sorry for bothering you" and the report has been shredded and nothing came of it. (that's what the social workers told me happens when no concerns are noted)

    I used to post and post on here about how down in the dumps I was about how people just weren't coming. I lowered my rates, made myself work crazy hours, all because I WANTED THOSE FAMILIES so damned badly, and guess what it got me? Sub par familes who didn't give two s*i&s about the policies I wrote, my rates, or paying me what I deserved and what was fair for the subdivision.

    I now offer contracted hours, get my fees on time, and have a great set of families (until I relocate) one family signed on to come with me when I move. I no longer work hours that intrude on my family..any overtime is offered at a premium fee...I chose to focus on the things I could offer like my ECE training exp. my job in the school system etc.

    I know I made a boo boo when announcing that I was moving but it was a bit hard to hide considering things were disappearing off the wall and out of the house.

    I am posting this because I WANT EVERYONE to know that going above and beyond as they say almost always leads TO SOMETHING MORE AND RAISED EXPECTATIONS OF GETTING SOMETHING EXTRA FOR LESS.

    Would I do "something extra" for a family now? Perhaps... If it was not implied that I HAD TO DO IT. But I would only do it if I got the feeling I was respected and the thanks was truly genuine! Does this mean I am jaded and bitter about my job, heck no. It just means that I won't compromise what I NEED in order to keep EVERYONE in my house happy...It means that I am a business woman who has learned you only garner (SP) respect if you comand it, and lastly..If you dwell on your weaknesses others will too.

    I still love kids just as much as I did when I was starting out..in fact maybe more because I finally have little kidlets and families WHO LOVE ME AND COMING TO ME.
    Last edited by dodge__driver11; 03-02-2013 at 05:18 PM. Reason: more info

  5. #5
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    Allowing parents to pay one rate for the day and then have their child from the second I opened until the second I closed.

  6. #6
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    Oh - reading some of these posts makes me feel so much better. I made a lot of mistakes when I first started out. In no particular order (raspberry please):

    I allowed my first family to not have to pay for days when their child was not in my care. After six months of 3 and 4 day weeks instead of my anticipated 5 day weeks I had a pretty clear picture of what this kind of nickel and diming stuff could do to my bottom line. When I was first getting started I also allowed my families to not pay dues for the weeks that they and their kids were away on vacation. This particular lesson really burned me with one family. I treated this family the same way I treated all my other families, (i.e. no paying for vacation time was kind of my Xmas gift to your family) and they dumped my butt after just 10 weeks. Turns out I was just a stop gap caregiver until their "real" caregiver had an opening. I would NOT have given a 200 dollar gift to a family who wasn't going to be with me for the long haul. Grrr....

    Another mistake I made was taking the deposit and applying half of it for their child's first week of care, meaning that I only had one week of dues in reserve. Now I tell parents that their deposit is applied to their child's last two weeks of care (whenever that may be) It's amazing how much better people are at providing two weeks notice when they've already paid for those weeks.

    I also had one family who changed their mind one week before starting up and wanted their deposit refunded - because I was such a great provider and would have no trouble filling the space. I added a couple of very explicit lines in my contract after that fiasco stating in no uncertain terms that the deposit is non-refundable, and can only be applied to the child's final two weeks of care, and at my discretion.

    I have a much better list of questions that I run prospective families through - ranging from "Is your child on a wait list at any other daycares ?" to "Why do you prefer home daycare versus centre care ?" to "Where are you at in your search for a caregiver?" This last one is gold - it really helps me to identify the families who are seriously looking for a caregiver, as opposed to the "wafflers" who may change their mind about going back to work but want to have daycare lined up just in case.

    I've also become much harder nosed about discounts - daily rates versus registration by enrollment, sibling discounts, teacher discounts etc. I've learned that this gig is hard enough - I'm not working for a reduced rate to save some other family money. If someone wants a sibling discount, or wants to know if I'll cut them a deal for the summer months, it's a big red flag for me. I don't want to work with people who are going to nickel/dime me over little stuff. I've also learned that some things - like Before and After School Care - are (for me) simply too labour intensive for too little pay.

    Overall, I've been very fortunate. I've worked with more good families than terrible ones, and I've managed to avoid a lot of the pitfall's that I've read about on this and other forums. I've never had to terminate a client, and I've never had to deal with abusive parents. However, I am VERY glad that this site exists - I've learned a lot through other caregivers experiences, and frequently it allows me to think about how I would handle the same situation/question/challenge. Frequently, it's only a matter of months before the situation is unfolding in my own daycare and it's nice if I've already had a chance to think about what my response will be/what actions I need to take.

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  8. #7
    Euphoric !
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    I (like most of us) had a pretty HUGE learning curve the first year or so in business.
    Since opening my doors the first day, I have learned:
    - To listen to my instincts. If something seems fishy, it probably is. If a family doesn't seem like a good fit, they probably aren't. If I don't really want to do the extra (hours, type of care, whatever), then I probably shouldn't. It isn't fair to reneg on something I never should have said yes to in the first place.
    - I set the tone around here. Not the children or their parents. This is my home, business and career.
    - Little things can be big things to a family. One of my families was raving about how they love our monthly newsletter. I didn't think it was a big deal. She said it shows how much I care, that I look at this as more than "watching kids" (could have been offensive, but I knew what she was getting at), and that I value open and ongoing communication.
    - For the love of all that is holy.... have a clear and concise contract and/or handbook. And add to it as need be. I am certain that if I still had a copy of my first one, it was about a page and a half. I think I am up to 9/10 pgs now. I don't want it getting any larger, LoL, but I needed to make sure I covered all my bases. And my newest family just told me the thoroughness of my handbook was a plus in their eyes.

    By no means is this list all-inclusive. I am still learning new things about this career, daily. Thanks in huge part to all you wonderful folks!!!

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