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 Registration Certificate from Ofsted.

Market Research

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

Who will be your customers?

  • 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?

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

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

  • Act on any information you gain from your market research

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 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

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 regardless of the size or type of business or service being offered.

These are:

Product (which includes 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 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.

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

Examples of USP's

  • Hours - flexible or weekend hours available
  • Experience or qualifications you have
  • Location - are you close to major 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
  • Are you registered to deliver Funded Early Learning for 2 year olds Free Entitlement 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
  • Parents are looking for value for money, not always the cheapest price
  • When advertising, consider using terms such as "competitive prices" or "fully inclusive prices" rather than to state an hourly or weekly rate

Promotion

How and where do you tell people about your service?

Promoting your business should be an ongoing process to maintain awareness of your service.

For suggestions of ways and places of promoting your service in your area, see Communication Routes for Successful Marketing handout

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

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 can 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?
  • Things to consider when preparing an advert handout