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Why do I need to market my business?

As a registered childminder, you are responsible for ensuring that your business is sustainable. Marketing is about ensuring you get the right type of service to the right people at the right price. Only by selling the benefits of your childminding service and raising your profile will you reach the people you wish to and deliver the service you want

Marketing can help you:

  • create and maintain awareness of your service
  • tell customers you are available and what you can offer
  • fill places when children in your care move on
  • let people know if your childminding service changes e.g. more services or limited places

You can start to advertise your childminding business before you register with Ofsted, providing you don't indicate that you are registered already. Consider terms such as "soon to be a registered childminder" or "soon to be registered with Ofsted" or "currently going through the inspection process with Ofsted".

You cannot start to childmind until you have received your childminding Registration Certificate.

Market Research

Market research is essential to ensure the viability of your childminding business

Who will be your customers?

It is important to think about the area you live in and any areas that are easily accessible by road or rail links.

  • Find out about large employers in your area
  • Is there a large retail complex or office complex in the area?
  • What hours do employees work?
  • How much do other local childminders charge?

What is the level of demand?

  • What is the general area like?
  • Are there lots of new housing estates aimed at families?
  • Are you close to lots of schools?
  • Are there any large day nurseries nearby?
  • Are there lots of Out of School clubs nearby?

You need to tailor what you offer to what is needed. For example, if there lots of Out of School clubs in your area, there may be less demand for out of school childminding places and you may need to tailor your service for pre-school children.

Simple Surveys

  • Either ask existing parents what they like best about your service or create a simple survey sheet to distribute in the area
  • Keep the survey as short as possible and make sure you make it easy to return

Act on the feedback obtained

You need to act on any information you gain from your market research as this can determine how successful your childminding business is likely to be.

No matter how successful your childminding business is, the children you care for will eventually leave your care as they become older. This means that filling vacant places is a continuous process. It is far better to continually advertise your business and have to turn callers away than to have empty places waiting to be filled.

You are responsible for ensuring that your business is sustainable. Whether looking to increase or maintain income or provide a valuable service to your community, marketing can help you:

  • create and maintain awareness of your service
  • tell customers you are available and what you can offer
  • fill places when children in your care move on
  • let people know if your childminding service changes e.g. more services or limited places

Childminding Business Plan Resource Pack

Taking time to plan is a great way to make sure you are achieving the things you set out to do. t’s also the best way to make sure that your childminding business is sustainable for the future.

How and where do I market my business? The 4 P's

All marketing is dependent on four key factors which are universal to all businesses regardless of the size or type of business or the service being offered. These are:

  • Product
  • Price
  • Promotion
  • Place

Product (including Unique Selling Point)

Your product or service is what you do!

Unless you are providing a service that children and families want to use, it is unlikely that your business will be successful. Market research can help with identifying what services are needed.

Make it clear what you can offer

Be organised and give parents the confidence that you can meet their families needs. Promote your service on a day-to-day basis simply by being an example of good practice.

Learn from other examples of advertising If you see an effective way of a business advertising their product, use the idea in your own advertising.

Naming your childminding business

Before giving your business a name it is worth checking that no-one else is using that name already. Ofsted will register you in your own name not the name of your business. To check that no-one else is using your business name you need to see if it has been registered as a trademark. Look at https://www.gov.uk/set-up-sole-trader which explains the process.

Unique Selling Point (USP)

State your Unique Selling Point - offer your potential customers a Unique Selling Point; or a reason for choosing you instead of another childcare provider.

Examples of USP's The following examples are not a complete list, but all will make a childminders service attractive to parents who are looking for a childminding place for thier child. Some will be attractive because of the experiences or practical service you can provide for their child, such as large garden with lots of things to do or that you can collect from the child's pre-school etc. Others may make your setting convenient for parents because it is easy for them to travel to work from your home or that because you provide meals, parents do not have to find the extra time each morning to make packed lunches for their child.

  • Hours - flexible or weekend hours available
  • Experience or qualifications you have
  • Location - are you close to major travel routes?
  • Resources available e.g. large garden or close to a park
  • Pets - many parents like their children to be around animals - particularly if they do not have pets themselves due to working hours
  • Sport/creative activities - do you excel or specialise in providing these experiences for children?
  • Home cooked meals
  • Experience of caring for children with additional needs
  • Ability to speak another language
  • Collection from school/pre-school/nursery
  • Collection service for parents without transport
  • Anything else that is applicable
  • Do you provide Funded Early Learning for 2 year olds, Free Entitlement for 3 and 4 year olds and the 30 hours of free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds?

Price

The price of your service is what you charge your customers. You may decide to have a fully inclusive price or a basic price with extra charges for food etc.

Many childminders choose not to advertise their actual fees - but meet with parents to discuss the service being offered and what the fees include.

Consider:

  • The fees you charge a parent are essential to cover your costs and make a living
  • Be aware of what other childminders and other providers in your area are charging
  • When advertising, consider using terms such as "competitive prices" or "fully inclusive prices" rather than to state an hourly or weekly rate

Your rates need to be in line with what is already charged in your area. If your charges are too low parents may be suspicious of the level of service you are offering and existing childminders may think you are deliberately undercutting them. Also, if you do not plan your charges carefully, you may not make enough profit to make your business sustainable. If your charges are too high, you will struggle to fill your places and unless you are offering much more than other local childminders, parents will not happily pay much more for the same level of service.

Parents are looking for value for money, not always the cheapest price

Promotion

How and where do you tell people about your service?

Promoting your service can happen in 2 ways.

  • Indirect marketing which happens through word of mouth and by people knowing you are a childminder and liking what they see.
  • Direct marketing happens when you take steps to advertise your business

Promoting your business should be an ongoing process to maintain awareness of your service. Think about the national supermarkets and other national stores. They don't stop advertising when everyone has heard of them and they are making profit - they carry on to maintain that awareness.

Indirect Marketing

Many childminders fill vacancies through "word of mouth" and personal recommendations. In order to earn an excellent reputation as a childminder you can:

  • Meet regularly with other childminders who may pass on your contact details
  • Aim to be an example of good practice
  • Provide a wide variety of experiences for the children in your care
  • Be organised so that people can see that you take your job seriously
  • Keep up to date with current knowledge of your job through training, reading, newsletters etc.
  • Make sure you talk to parents regularly about their child
  • Ensure you consider the individual needs of each child and family in the service you offer
  • Ask existing parents if they would be happy to provide you with references for potential new parents

Direct Marketing

We have produced a handy FREE guide which has suggestions of places you can advertise your childminding business

Communication Routes for Successful Marketing

This FREE handout gives you ideas of where you may like to consider advertising your childminding business.

Place

The place your childminding service is delivered from is usually set by where you live. Market research can help tailor your service to accomodate the needs of the area. If you are planning to move house you could carry out some market research to determine the most appropriate place for your new home and your service.

For security reasons for your own family and the children you care for, you may choose to not give out your full address when advertising.

Think about how you can best describe your location while maintaining the security you need.

There are many ways you can advertise your childminding service, from designing your own posters and leaflets, buying business cards and having customised clothing made. It is important to consider:

  • What benefits will your customers get from your service?
  • What makes your service seem better than an alternative setting to your customers? (your USP)

We have created a FREE handout which has ideas that will help you to create effective adverts

Things to consider when preparing an advert

This FREE handout has 14 good practice tips included

Related products

Leading and managing a childminding setting

Module

£25

Childminding Business Plan Resource Pack

Resource

£4.00