The Child Care Business Podcast

Season 2, Episode 3: How Shared Services Benefit Child Care Providers, with Monique Reynolds

February 28, 2022 Procare Solutions Season 2 Episode 3
The Child Care Business Podcast
Season 2, Episode 3: How Shared Services Benefit Child Care Providers, with Monique Reynolds
Show Notes Transcript

Monique Reynolds is the vice president of business support services with Quality Care for Children in Atlanta. She has worked in leadership roles in the child care industry for more than 25 years and has an extensive knowledge of child care business management and early education.

Monique previously owned and operated successful multi-site programs and her passion is helping child care business owners become successful and sustainable through shared services.

When she describes this model, she said she's reminded of the African proverb that it takes a village to raise a child. When you think about child care businesses, it's the same concept. It's basically having a community of people who put tools and resources together to make each business sustainable with increased profitability, Monique says.

In this podcast, she shares more about shared services and how they can help those in the child care industry.

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Speaker 1:

Welcome to the childcare business podcast brought to you by pro care solutions. This podcast is all about giving childcare, preschool, daycare after school and other education professionals, a fun and upbeat way to learn about strategies and inspiration you can use to thrive. You'll hear from a variety of childcare thought leaders, including educators, owners, and industry experts on ways to innovate, to meet the needs of the children you serve from practical tips for managing operations, to uplifting stories, transformation, and triumph. This podcast will be chalk full in insights. You can use to fully realize the potential of your childcare business. Let's jump in.

Speaker 2:

Hello everybody. Uh , and again, welcome to the childcare business podcast. Really excited to have today's guest with us. So I'm gonna jump right into to at Monique Reynolds , um , is the vice president of business , uh, and support services. And I'm gonna let her add a little color to that if needed for quality care for children in Atlanta, Georgia. Um, you know, I've actually worked with Monique for many years and, and she's been in leadership roles in our industry for, I think more than 25 years, she has an extensive knowledge of childcare, business management and early education. She's a great resource. Um, I think not just for centers in, in the state where she works , which we'll get into down in Georgia, but really has expertise that I think will translate , um, to our audience from coast to coast . So , um, you know, in the past, Monique has owned and operated successful multi-site programs and her passion , uh, which I think you'll hear is in helping childcare business owners become successful and sustainable. Uh, and today she's gonna be talking to us a little bit about her role , uh, in shared services down in Georgia. So Monique, welcome to the podcast.

Speaker 3:

Hi Ryan. Thank you so much for having me. I'm so glad to be here. I'm glad for all of you that are listening in, we're gonna have some fun today. I hope that I can share some great information about what we do in Georgia and some shared resources. Awesome. I'm so excited to be here as well. Well,

Speaker 2:

I love it. Bringing the energy on a , I mean, I don't know exactly when this, I actually go live, but you know, for me, it's Monday morning, first meeting of the week, appreciate the energy. I still have a cup of coffee going too. So I agree. We're gonna have some fun. So I, I , I'm gonna start with this cuz I , I always try when we have guests on, I try to do just enough research so that, you know, maybe we can have a little of a roadmap of what we talk about, but I try to do not very much, cause I don't wanna feel like I know about you and about what you do so I can let you kind of hopefully spend most of the time talking. But I did see on your bio on the website that , uh , a hobby or interest of yours, and this is the first time I've ever heard. This is exploring lighthouses. Is this true? Is this a true statement?

Speaker 3:

That is a true statement. So I , um, used to work for the American cancer society. I was the patient service director. So from many years I worked with cancer patients and one , um, patient I actually got very close to and she brought me a lighthouse at the end of her treatment and said that I was lighting the way to so many patients. So then that began, a lot of patients started bringing the lighthouse and I started visiting. So I have over 300 and in my , uh , collection and I travel and I visit different lighthouses. And so I do feel like , uh , it kind of fits me that I'm at guiding light .

Speaker 2:

I love that. All right . So, so I gotta , I gotta dive into this a little bit. So like if Monique's scheduling, you know, holiday vacation, you're gonna take some time away from work and check out. So your vacations, a lot of times will center around visiting lighthouses. So it is that true. And then where , so where is the best? Like if you're like, all right , I can only go to one region to go visit. Li is there like a, like a lighthouse destination for lighthouse lovers that is the like Mecca or is it different everywhere? Where are you gonna go?

Speaker 3:

It's so different everywhere. I haven't been able to go , um, out of state to , uh , out of country to see some of the most beautiful ones that you can. My favorite though is Jupiter, Florida, because it's my favorite color is a red brick. So that is my absolute favorite.

Speaker 2:

Is Jupiter . Is Jupiter an island or am I thinking Bel island? I , I don't know the state that well is Jupiter Gulf coast or Atlantic side?

Speaker 3:

Gulf coast.

Speaker 2:

Okay . It's okay. So Jupiter's number one. Have you been up to like the Northeast? Cause I would imagine like for some reason why I think a lighthouse is , um, I'm from the west coast. So we do have like on the Oregon coast light, but upper Northeast coast. Is that a , I

Speaker 3:

Say I'm more north. I go to North Carolina area. Um, yeah, more that region. I haven't got , I need to go check you at guys out on the west side.

Speaker 2:

Yeah . There's always gonna be places you can go. Exactly. All right . All right . So that's, that's the lighthouse and then walk me through just so, so our O has like a little context on your career path, Monique. So I know that right now we're gonna talk more and more about quality care for children and what's going on down in Georgia. But do you mind just talking a little bit about your path to get to where you are today? Like what's kind of led to that and then maybe, maybe talk a little bit specifically about like, what is your role for the organization right now, if you were to describe it ?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, thank you for that. So I actually wanted to be, be a lawyer. And so I got into childcare with my , um , children , uh , did a lot of research on a lot of childcare programs in my community. I was in Gainesville, Florida. And I, you know, like with anything you want the best, especially for your first child. So I said, you know what, I can do this. And there was a lot of need in lower income areas , um, in neighborhoods that I would often visit. So I opened my own and I started it , uh, just transferring the knowledge that I had from school into that and went back to school to educate myself more on education. And then it grew from there. Um, from there I owned multiple sites, but then I started working in corporations to, I would take low performing childcare , um , center and make them profitable and sustainable, absolutely love that work. But sometimes when you're working for corporations, you go in and you're, you're not, you know, you can work with someone that may not want you there or have a different opinion. So I think when I finally in the last three years found quality care for children, it has been , um , amazing because the passion of what I do is going in and creating sustainable programs with programs that really, really want the support, but didn't have a means or didn't have an organization who can support them in the way that we can

Speaker 2:

Now . All right . So it , and so you were in Gainesville originally, this has nothing to do with what we're gonna talk about either because you were in Gainesville, but I read that you are a seminal right. Florida state. So is that like, so, but how does somebody leave Gainesville university of Florida? And is it just like, Hey, I'm leaving home. I gotta go somewhere else or what, what I ,

Speaker 3:

So that's a great question. So , um, I I'm born, I'm a seminal, but my , um , husband , uh, lived in Gainesville. So that kinda happened there. And then I relocated, I got remarried. And so that's how I came to Georgia.

Speaker 2:

All right . That's how you enjoyed now. We know the story. All right . So still was seminar . Were you there? Were you there during like the glory day ? Seminals cause I know like I'm yeah ,

Speaker 3:

We won the national championship. 93 gold semis . Yes.

Speaker 2:

Was that like the Charlie ward or Chris win ? That

Speaker 3:

Was that's the Charlie ward. Yes. Charlie

Speaker 2:

Ward. All right . Legend. He was , uh , he was one of the greatest. All right . So we got a little bit of football S E foot or no, they're they're ACC ACC,

Speaker 3:

ACC.

Speaker 2:

All right . All right . I got all right . So now we're at quality care for children. And can you define we've actually, so one of the reasons I wanted to have you on the show, you and I were meeting, I don't know, like a month or so ago, literally talking about, you know, some of the work that you're doing in Georgia and you were kind of laying out for me , um, you know, what you guys are doing, the model you create . And I thought we , to be so helpful because this conversation about shared services has gained so much momentum in the last few years. It's just a topic and a structure and , and a , um, I guess a conversation that's happening so much more. And , and I maybe I've asked this to other guests too. We had Louise , um , you know, Stony on the , on the show. Yeah . Love Louise , you know , I guess a few months ago, but can you define, maybe in your own words, what shared services is like, what is a shared service hub? What is a shared service Alliance and then maybe we'll go from there.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, absolutely. So when I think about shared services , um , I'm reminded of an old African proverb. It takes a village to raise a child. So when you think about childcare businesses, it's the same concept. It's basically having a community of people, whether it's individual community organizations coming together to say, Hey, we have an interest in childcare businesses. And so we wanna put tools and resources together so that that business can be sustainable. Profitable can grow, which trickles down to our children and families.

Speaker 2:

I like the , and so did it, is it fair to say that the model stemmed from I , cuz I heard you say sustainability a lot. I've seen it on, on, you know, on , on the website for quality care for children a lot. Is that one of the reasons shared services this model came about because there was the , a sense, or maybe a reality that childcare in a lot of ways wasn't sustainable for small business owners. Is that a fair statement? Like

Speaker 3:

That is a fair statement, especially over the, of course with the pandemic. I think before the pandemic, the focus has been more on program side, making sure that childcare programs were high quality and they had those , uh , assessments and those tools and resources focusing mainly on the child and their families. So you saw a shift even with the shared service model to sustainability because we knew before the pandemic, they were fragile. Now it's like we really need to focus on the business style on the sustainability piece of shared services. Because without that we won't have , uh , uh , high quality care. Even if you had a high quality care, you won't be in business.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. You not gonna be able to stay around. So the sustainability has become a big focus. So rewind for me. If you could now, were you at quality care for children when the shared services pro started ? Were you , have you been there from the beginning or did you come in?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I came in later, so I love our organization. We've been in business for 40 years. So part of the shared service we have is , uh, the provider resource hub. That's our name of our shared services. And that actually came about in 2004 . And it's a site that provides resources and tools for , um, everything that you would need to know to operate a program in the state of Georgia over time, it is grown to something different. And so I came in in 2019 and we've exploded. So from that, if you wanna think about like an octopus or a spider and it has those antennas, our shared service at the core of that is that website. But then expanding from that, we have business coaching and automation. We have provider back office, will we actually go in and do those services for the childcare providers so they can focus on what they love and that's , uh, you know, focusing on their children. We have a staff family childcare network that mimics our center side, where we do business coaching and automation. We have a Facebook page, but all of that centers back to our provider resource hub. If we do business trainings, you not gonna find it unless you go on the hub. If business coaching, everything that we do lives on our hub.

Speaker 2:

Got it. And so the hub is the website. And so going back to 2004, just , just for learning for me too. So in terms of funding for organizations and for like quality care for children is it is government funding that comes in to then support and provide additional resource for providers in the state. Cuz the state of Georgia says, you know, look, if you wanna open up a business as a childcare business, you gotta get a business license, you gotta get license for childcare , but really now you're kind of on your own. And so is it quality care for children is an resource where those providers can go and get more information and support and it's funded by the government or is it funded by like outside

Speaker 3:

Dollars ? And I think , um, what's what works great for the state of Georgia. Unlike some other states, our licensing agency for childcare providers , um, gov pays for our services. So we for we're funded by the state who says, okay, here's some other resources that you can have. But in addition to that, we also house the quality rated system. So our TAs go out , um, to help them get quality rated. So in Georgia you have to be quality rated in order to , um, offer a subsidy care one, two or three star. So that's with quality quality , uh , uh , that's with quality care for children, our nutrition program, we're the largest , uh , childcare sponsor in the state of Georgia. So we have that in our program and we also have early head start and uh , parent services. So my department business support service is just an extension of all of that, which is funded by the state. We have local community organizations United way , um, that really have rallied around , um, this model to say, wow, this is amazing. We need to continue to offer this service. So it's a community of people that fund us

Speaker 2:

That come together to fund, okay . That, that helps understand like the model and the initiative. And then one of the things that I wanted to try to spend time talking with you about, because I , I think you've done a good job of building a framework for your model in Georgia. It can you and maybe this is 2019 Monique, or maybe it started prior to you joining the organization, but specifically around the shared service Alliance where as a provider, I can join and participate and share and best practices. Were you there when that started? And, and can you talk a little bit about like the initial intent of creating a shared certain is what are the things that you wanted to provide to providers in terms of outcomes and how did you guys start putting that together? How did you get the word out? How did you attract providers? Maybe just talk about the process.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. So, okay. This is what I get excited about because we do feel we're the biggest cheerleaders for , um, chat healthcare providers. So in the past, again, you may see programs and services that are offered, but nothing really solidified anything for providers. So we said , you know what, we're gonna change that. We want to be a shared service platform where when people call us, we're gonna give them tangible solutions up to the point. We will do it for them so that they can be profitable, sustainable, and successful. So with our model, initially, it was a service where people had to pay into. So you had a monthly fee that you would have to pay with more funding that we receive , um, around 2019, and then definitely going into COVID , we're able to offer this wonderful service absolutely free. So in general, yeah. So in general, any childcare , licensed childcare program in the state of Georgia can be a part of our platform. They can receive the, the basic business coaching, the tools, resources, all of that, but we wanted to do even more. So what we've developed is business , um , operations trainings, which is about six months to a year and it is a selection process. They fill out an application, we call 'em up on the phone and kind of go into depth about our program. What we're gonna do. We're gonna teach you business fiscal management. We're gonna coach you through the process. We have a Georgia specific budget. That's going to align with everything that you do. We're gonna set you up on automation. We've done our research on nine, 10 different automation systems. And we're gonna show you the one that we use in , in order for you to operate more efficiently, we're gonna show you how to have a work life balance. So you're not putting in 10 , uh , 10, 12, 14 hour, day, weeks. And so we're, we're gonna go through that process. And once you're in our program, it's about a six months to a year. We pay for everything we pay for that automation. We pay for their training. We pay for their laptop. We pay for their tablet, everything that they need in order to be successful. We take care of it, even talking to an accountant to make sure that their taxes are filed correctly, everything, and it is absolutely successful.

Speaker 2:

Wow. That's amazing. So full built in business coach like business like consultants, advisors, you know, providers get all of this as part of joining, you know, I think it's called an Alliance. There's different terms that I've heard, but joining the shared service. So for you guys, like in terms of identifying centers that participate, is it, is it from a supply and demand standpoint standpoint? Is it we're having a hard time finding enough providers to participate or is it there's too many that wanna participate and there's a criteria process, or can you accept as many providers as you as want to participate in Georgia? What does that look like?

Speaker 3:

So this is the beautiful thing. So at the beginning of this new type of, we wanna expand our shared services, we kind of did it as a pilot, but overwhelmingly so many providers were like, I wanna be a part of the group . And we were like, we want you to be a part of the group . So again, it's the focus on, we know that the economy is not gonna get back to where it needs if childcare businesses are not in business. So everyone has rallied around our model and is funding it . So we are able to offer more services to more providers. So within the last year, we've accomplished over a hundred. This year alone, we'll have over 175 childcare programs that we will serve. So , uh, it's never ever , um, a , a situation where people , um, we can't find them. It's more of, wow, we need to continue to scale this model so that we don't have to turn people away because we do put them in different cohort groups. Um, because we just don't have enough staff in order to meet the demand of this service.

Speaker 2:

And that would be the constraint then is , you know, in terms of like, if funding is available and providers wanna sign up, the constraint would become staffing and support on your end, in terms of like, we just don't have enough coaches and advisors to be able to meet with all these individual owners that would, is that inaccurate ,

Speaker 3:

I would say. Absolutely. And because our program, we were very intentional on every single thing that we do , um, to yield the best outcome. So we didn't wanna chop it up. It's very comprehensive. So of course we could have, you know, processes where we just paid for a , or we pay for automation, but that in itself is not enough. We wanted to make sure if we bring anybody into our program, it is extremely comprehensive. It's robust. And that we're gonna take them through a, through Z and we're not gonna short change it. We're not gonna put a bandaid on the issue. We're gonna fix it. We're gonna make sure that they're successful.

Speaker 2:

And so when you first sign up , uh , a new pro , so let's say I'm a childcare owner in Georgia, and I hear about you and I reach out and I talk to Monique's team. When you first meet with me as the owner, Monique, is it, is it kind of like, like I'm a coach at a gym and I'm about to tell you, Hey, look, the outcomes that we're gonna help you, you know, achieve are gonna be amazing, life changing. You're gonna feel better, your business gonna be more successful, but it's also gonna be painful. And it's also gonna require work. Is , is that a fair like analogy? Like, do you sit down with these owners and explain what they're signing up for? Because I'm a , I , I would assume that there's a requirement of them to buy in and participate. Is , is that accurate? What kind of conversation happened with

Speaker 3:

Them ? Yeah, so you have it. And so it's more like , um, the only difference is , uh, when you go to the gym, like you do have to put a lot of work in the difference with us is similar in a way we are your absolute biggest cheerleader. We just need you to say yes, yes. To automation, yes. To we're gonna do this budget. And when you don't say, yes, we'll come and show up. We'll call you every day . Um, we are your accountability partner. So we have this conversation with you to say, look, this is where you are. You can't compete with anybody else. You're competing with yourself. Your facility , uh , costs more money than the one down the street . So we're not even gonna look at, you know, the tuition rate that everyone else is doing in the community. So we really break it down where they understand what the benefit is. And so when we give a couple of examples or show our results, we never ever, ever have someone that don't buy into the program. And we it's , we don't even have people that would drop out . They, they tend to just love it. And, and it's more like, thank God, this is here. We love it. So just for our results, just in our first year alone, we focus on the iron triangle. You mentioned Louise Stoney . So she's the kind of the creator of the E C E R triangle. So we focus on three categories, enrollment, bad debt and revenue covers cost per child . So our results are amazing and they continue to get better. So people participating in our program, their enrollment will grow 24% and it has grown 24%. Their bad debt has been eliminated. So the first year we had $52,000 worth of bad debt, not collecting on time, not, you know, calling the parents when they left out of our program, it was reduced to about 835. And that was just for a couple of centers. But the majority of the centers had zero bad debt and revenue increased by 34% , largely due to balance systems, working more efficiently using automation to make sure that they are working efficiently. There's can balances in there. And there's that cheerleader in the background saying, you can do this. We're here to help. Let's do it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. I love that. And so it's not like you guys are ever like, Hey, we gotta kick you out of the program because you know, that gym analogy of like, all you're doing is sitting on the couch, eating Cheetos and bomb bonds . Like you haven't shown up at the gym in six weeks. This isn't working. You guys, you provide obviously the tools, but the support as well. And so once you're in, you guys don't see

Speaker 3:

Attrition. No, we, we , um, we really do provide the support. And so I tell my team when we're going through the selection process, unlike when I was working with a corporation or where you have to go in and you have to make those changes, whether people want it or not, we have a unique, we're in a unique situation where as we're going through these assessments and these applications, I tell my team, you get to choose out of this bunch of people here, you know, your with , within these guidelines who we wanna work with, do they want to work with you? Do they want to be better? And if they're in our program, guess what, no matter what, you've gotta get them through it. So you may pick someone that, Hey, they get it. They're, they're ready to go. And they do everything that we ask and they're compliant and they're go going forward . And then you have other providers where we have to be very patient. We have to hold our hands a little bit more. So we slow that pace down for that provider. And we make them feel like we are a part of their team and we take them through the process so that they can be successful.

Speaker 2:

That's amazing. And, and then obviously you have outcomes to support that. I mean , I , and that's what I wanna talk a little bit about. I know you talked about the iron triangle about, you know, boosting enrollment, reducing bad debt, increasing revenue, and your program has shown, like, not just that we're saying, that's what we're hoping to do, but it's factual outcomes that we can show you. Our providers have actually experienced these things. So in terms trying to, to get to those outcomes, are there some best practices and , and I'll let you speak to this. I don't know if it's different for every provider or if there's some things that you guys, you know, require like, look, this is standard best practice for providers that are gonna go improve those areas of the iron triangle. And I know a little bit of a shameless plug . This isn't like a pro care podcast, but I do know like management software, as an example, to maybe lead the question a little bit is something that you guys have found. Like you can't provide those outcomes if everything's being done manually. It are there other things like, I know, like automation is one, you've talked about other things that you can talk about around in raw enrollment , bad debt, increasing revenue.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. I definitely think that's key what you said. So we , um, and you mentioned ProCare, but we, we, we use ProCare. And so one of our requirements, when we go in and we talk to a provider is you have to use , um, our system, which is ProCare. And one of the reasons why we use ProCare are system is we're able to use the enterprise version. So what that means is my team. We're able to go behind the scenes. We're able to see if what we're implementing is working. If they need help, if they need additional support, we're able to flag it. We're able to see that. And so we , it is kind of a partnership together. So the automation piece is one, and then the other is their budget following a , a particular budget, looking at their revenue cost per child. Um, having their willingness to say they're committed to not working 15 hours a day. So we restructure their whole program and make sure that they are following those guidelines that we've set. And it's not an option. I think a lot of shared services are a lot of pieces. Um, go kind of crazy because there's so many options. People get so overwhelmed where they get lost again in the shuffle, we kind of strategically say, these are the steps that you have to do in our program in order to be successful. We're called QCC works for sustainable childcare . That's the reason if you follow what we say, if we help you along the way it works.

Speaker 2:

Yeah . That's amazing. And it's amazing to me. Oh , always like in working with shared services, this is the same one as we've worked with you guys. Um, it , there's so many different personalities involved. You know, if we work with like an enterprise, you know, organization, you know, you've got a corporate office that is setting all the, the systems and best practices and requirements and directors and administrators kind of follow what the corporation sets shared service has some of those same, you know, like, like some of those same scenarios where there's the standardization, but you're the difference is you've got 170 different owners that have different opinions that have different personalities. Is that a challenge like for a shared service? Is it a challenge to get it buy in or because of maybe as it's gained more momentum, when you have outcomes that you can point to, it's easier to get people on board . I ,

Speaker 3:

I think when you have outcomes that you can point to you definitely , um , it makes it easier. I do feel there's so much, like you said, there's so many different personalities, so there's different options for people to chew , which we support that as a business owner. However, in our particular program, for that reason, we narrow down those options. Because if you have so many distractions, you're not focused on your business. So a childcare provider in general, they have things that they're working about, the child, the quality rated , um , the food program compliance. And that's great. That's not our focus. Our focus is on the business side. So we're intentional when we're working with childcare providers, yes. You could be on our platform, but when you're in our extended program, we focus primarily on the business. So there is , is one model for us. There are several ways to implement that model, but that's the model that we prefer to use in order to yield the best result.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Cuz then what you guys are saying is like, look, if you can get the business on solid ground, all those other things downstream are easier to deal with. Right? Like all you

Speaker 3:

Got it, you got it, Ryan . Yes . Yeah . Yeah .

Speaker 2:

So are there some common things that you guys see, I mean, working with as many providers as you, do you have a unique perspective? I think in terms of you're , you're constantly hearing from individual owners what their business struggles are, and what's hard for them about in rural and bad debt. Like are there some con like when it comes to enrollment, like, and , and providers that say, look, we can't fill all of our spaces. Are there some common, like misconceptions from owners that they have about why they don't have all their seats full that you guys come in and say, look, you know, you're not marketing your business properly, or it's a staffing issue. Are , are there some common things that you guys constantly hear that you immediately start with when it comes to enrollment?

Speaker 3:

Yeah. So the biggest issue right now COVID is staffing. And so one of the things that we always say, when a provider call, are you on our provider resource hub, are you on our shared service platform? Why? Cause if you're on our platform, we pay for additional services for every childcare provider to advertise free on our platform. So the job board goes out to ND LinkedIn, Google search. So they don't even have to pay for it. So it's more so of are you utilizing all the resources and tools that we actually have have that can put you in a better position? So that's first. So the staffing issue is a major one. The other thing is I'm a firm believer in automation. I just, I cannot emphasize enough that every single childcare program period should be on automation. It just makes your life easier. You can see things quicker , you understand where you need to market. You see where you need to fill your spaces . You see where your teacher , uh, are in and out and you can reduce your , uh , payroll costs . Automation just wins. It just helps you win and be a better efficient provider.

Speaker 2:

Automation wins. I'm gonna , we need to make that a tagline. Somehow automation wins hashtag Leah , just I , our marketing team in the background will have to remember that hashtag automation wins. I like that.

Speaker 3:

Um , yes.

Speaker 2:

What , what about on the revenue side? Because we, you know, just like you Monique, I mean, the reason our paths have crossed is we have, you know, shared, I guess, customers and shared interest in the industry. Certainly the outcomes of providers, the piece around revenue is I've found is always a, like, I don't know if touchy's the right word, but like providers, like I'm scared to increase my tuition because competitively in my area , um, I'm worried if it gets too high people, aren't gonna bring their kids here. You guys go and look at like the financials of a provider and, and you realize, look, your current tuition, isn't going to be sustainable.

Speaker 3:

Right.

Speaker 2:

Walk me through that conversation. How do you help a provider see that, you know what? The link between tuition and sustainability is so key to help them overcome those fears, I guess.

Speaker 3:

Okay. So all of you that are listening in this is key. This is important. This is the number one concern that we have with every single provider in our program. And with every single we tell them, after the assessment, you will increase your rate. They haven't increased their rate. It could be five years or it it's the same thing. What are my parents gonna say? You know, I fear what's gonna happen. And what we tell them again, is our re results. And the first year we had people that were so hesitating. We're like, well, we're gonna raise it be because your , your home, if it's a FA family childcare provider, your home expenses is more than what people are charging in your community. So you're not in competition with miss Sue down the street, that's paying or charging 150. You have to be at 175 in order to even break even. So now let's go ahead and do that. And then we'll talk about what is your unique difference and why someone would pay you 175 versus the person down the street, 150. So we really break all of that down and they are very fearful, but we help them through that. Pro every single provider has increased their rate, and that's why we have the 34% increase in revenue overall. And then we tell them, I'm not a daycare. You are not a drop off service. You are a small business owner. That means that you have to increase your rate every year, just like everybody else to the two to 4% increase so that you can be sustainable. We understand that you care about your families and, and that's great, but you are running a business. And in order to run a business, you have to look at your numbers.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. I love that you guys are, are messaging that message, cuz it , it , it actually translate like for so long, like part of my career in the industry has been, you know, talking with individual owners and, and, you know, an example that, you know, often comes up is, you know, all my families wanna pay us with electronic forms of payment, but we, you know, there's fees for that. And so we just wanna take checks and cash and understanding the cost of, you know , know chasing money and bad debt versus how do I set my business up to make sure I've covered my cost of doing business so that there's a margin left that I can sustain my livelihood and provide great outcomes for my community. I mean, that's kind of the formula, right,

Speaker 3:

Right. That is a formula. And, and the, the point that I wanna make is it's not the parent, it's the provider, because when we've made those changes , um, let's say out of a hundred parents, it may have been two parents that complained or kind of said, oh my God, what , what are you guys doing? But all of the other parents paid. And even those two paid more of, and some parents are saying, wow, I just never, I , I was wondering when you were gonna increase your rate or when I'd much rather pay you through a credit card or a debit, or can have my grandparents pay it or my on , or someone that godparents pay it. I was wondering, were you gonna go through this system? So it's really not the families per se. It's the provider that has been just taught in this industry for so long one way of doing things. And we have to just kind of change with time and embrace it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. I think it's, you know, tell me if you think this state and is true. I think one of the challenges for providers has been for so long, they've been so service minded to their community. Yes . And there's this like almost, they feel like there's this conflict of interest. Like if I'm here to serve my community and I raise my prices, I I'm counter I'm counteracting that, or it's being counterproductive. And so they feel almost like I , customers are the ones that control how I run my business. And I think the shift that you're talking about and the shift that you see between a center that is sustainable and maybe one that is constantly like on the edge of being able to survive is getting to that point where you say, I'm gonna build the business in a way that makes the business wrong and trust that that's gonna attract clients in my community that want to participate in that. Right.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. I agree. And the bottom line is , um, if you are building that foundation, if you are making sure that your business is successful, then you will serve your community and you'll serve your C well , you won't struggle to pay Paul for Peter, Peter for Paul, you're actually in a better situation to support, not just your community, but your staff they'll be able to, you'll be able to raise your rates. You'll be able to have vacation time. You'll be healthier , um, as a business owner, in order to serve the community, trying to serve. So I, I do, I see that we are service-minded, but I feel like we can have both.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. I love how you said that. I love like, if you wanna serve your community, well, build a strong, sustainable business. And

Speaker 3:

There you go

Speaker 2:

Do that and you're serving your community. I, I , I like that . I , I do think if , if I heard you, right, I'm probably gonna paraphrase this, but like the fear of man, if I make a business decision, that's gonna raise my tuition. Parents are gonna lead my program. That's an irrational fear. It's not what you see happening in any way

Speaker 3:

Shape . It's not, that's not, that's the biggest myth that I think I would want to emphasize today. They won't . Now you can't just out outrageously increase your rates, but you should have a plan of action that it will increase every year because inflation increases every year. You have to have that mindset of how can you offer, how can you be sustainable and offer great quality care in your community? And there's ways to do that. And we're behind the whole entire industry is behind. And so now these are the opportunities in the time where we have to fix it now so that we can move forward and be a business that can serve our community will .

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Well said. What , what about , um, what about the bad debt piece? Because that's another one, you know, there's the enrollment, there's the increasing, you know, of revenue, bad debt is a huge issue for a lot of providers. How do you guys tackle that? Like if are there some key, like do these things and you'll reduce bad debt.

Speaker 3:

Yes. Yeah . So it goes back to automation, automation, automation, automation. And here's the thing when you , um, just a segue , when you think about service, like, we don't want to say we don't wanna offend our parents. They know they owe us and we don't wanna have that tough conversation. What I love about automation is you don't have to have that conversation. It's there, it , you , it automatically sends out notices when the parent is behind. When they get ready to clock in for the day, it can stop them to say you owe this balance and so they can pay it. So it really, really is in the administrative and support partner of what you're trying to do, especially when you have a heart hard time, having those tough conversations, automation helps alleviate that, alleviates that process. And then you begin to set up for people that are way behind set up those type of systems, where you can say, I'm gonna, you know, put you on this type of plan. You have to, you know, go through our automated system where it's automat , it's not, you're taking checks and you're waiting for this check to clear. It's just a better way. And you, I , I promise, I promise if you're using automation, you will eliminate bad debt period . It's not an O you will

Speaker 2:

Period , because where you see bad debt is where there's the, the honor system for parents. And there's a lot of annual payments. And I mean, I know this has historically been, it's gotten so much better, but it's been kind of that community minded I'm here to serve. And so parents, if they pay me on Mondays, when they're supposed to or not, it all works itself out. You guys are all about eliminate that mentality require payment on time, reduce bad debt, cuz the that's being a good community minded business. You're you're sustainable

Speaker 3:

And you wanna be a good steward of your finances. So what I tell providers all the time is when you're not collecting your tuition in full and on time, you don't have a steady cash . So that means you are gonna now start paying your bills late. You're you're gonna get into situations where your teachers are not paid on time or you're borrowing money to help pay that. So you're not helping yourself by trying to , uh, offset that to a parent who actually, most parents are willing to do this process and feel that the process is easier. So it's just getting the provider's mindset over the hump of thinking differently. And it's almost like a aha moment. We have all of our providers saying, I wish I knew this many years ago because I would've, I would've done it. They just didn't know.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. That's amazing . Yeah. It's, it's shared service. Like when I think about your team, it's like part business coach, part advisor part, you know, financial, you know, advocate part like just coach, like mentality, coach, like having the right mindset of how to approach your business every day makes all the difference. What , what about like Monique, you guys think in Georgia about your program specifically, you know, as you look down over the next six months, year, maybe two years. Like if , if I were to ask you like, we're , we're talking two years from now, so what's the date February? Well, February, 2024 between now. And then what , what does success look like for you guys? Is it in terms of your program? Is it expanding the reach? So there's more providers, is it as simple as sheer numbers? Like what are the things that you guys are focused on in the next year or two in terms of improving your program and what you're doing?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so we're definitely , um, it's it's expansion. We have over 4,000 childcare programs , um, in the state of Georgia, we want every single program, one on our shared platform. And then more importantly, going through our process, we believe that you just can't teach one side. We want it comprehensive. Like you need the business coaching, but you also need the advisement. You also need the automation. And so we wanna be able to give that , um, service to all of our providers so that Georgia can have , um, childcare , sustainable childcare, not just in, in pockets of Georgia, but the entire state of Georgia. So we look to expand and we also look to have like a substitute pool. We wanna really, we know that that is a , uh , a massive area that , uh, that everyone is struggling to have. So we wanna be able to , um, have a system where it is a great substitute pool that is not costing a provider 19 $20, you know, on our shared platform, they can purchase things from Kaplan and Lakeshore , all on like a major discount. We wanna be able to expand all of our services so that providers win at the end of the day. We want them to be successful.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Nice. So providing more outreach. So you is the , is the substitute pool, is that something that has ever or happened before? That's an interesting, you know, concept, cuz you know, obviously you mentioned staffing and I think on every episode we do on some level or another staffing challenges come up. I mean it is the topic in the industry right now. I saw you guys have talked a lot about a minimum, you know, kind of wage for childcare providers. And so it's just a lot of conversation happening is the substitute pool. Is that, is that a thing historically or is that kind of a new concept?

Speaker 3:

Um, no, I think it's it's is gaining traction. So there some states that are already doing a substitute pool, so in Georgia, we're trying to find what works. It is gonna take resources , um, for us to kind of think about how does that look and how do we make that happen? We are very fortunate because we have the job board, so that's a start, but we want to be able to attract and share that resource. And maybe there is opportunities for us to set that up up where that resource, those teachers have health benefits , um, and different things that providers can afford to pay. And we're able to offer this service where you can get really good teachers at affordable rates.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. That's amazing. I it'll be interesting to see how that plays out. I'm gonna have to keep my eyes on that because I think if you , you, if you're a provider and you have access to that now all of a sudden, I mean, we hear this all the time from our customers that like I have rooms available that I can't open because I don't have staff and at least it provides a pathway to temporarily having teachers and staff in a classroom so that, you know, they can open up more seats for kids. So , um, love to hear that, keep our eyes on it. Um, moving forward, like, so if, if I'm the center in Georgia, Monique I'm , you know, I know we're kind of coming to the end here of our time together, but if I'm a provider in Georgia and I wanna find out more about what you guys are doing, can you just talk about the different ways providers can find you, how they could get , can connected with you get more information? Um, so we can kind of help promote what you guys are doing down there.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, absolutely. So we definitely want people to reach out. It's a really simple , um, QCC works, QCC works@qccga.org . So you can reach us on, you can Google us quality care for tool we're on Facebook. We have a wonderful Facebook page. We do webinars and trainings for our childcare providers. We're on Instagram , um, or you can email us directly. So , um, we would definitely love to hear , um, from anybody, but definitely if you're in the state of Georgia and you haven't connected with us, we're waiting for you.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. I like , I like that . And look, you know, little plug from our side, you know, we've worked with Monique and her group for many years and they're doing amazing work down there. Great resource if you're a provider in Georgia and you're looking for resources, even if you just have questions, reach out to them. They're great, you know, set of professionals that have a ton of experience. Um, so don't hesitate to reach out to 'em you're gonna be down in, in Austin for the OPEX stuff in April. Is

Speaker 3:

That I'm hoping, I guess, with everything that's going on, I'm hoping that I'll be able to participate.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. It's a little, I know it's a little bit crazy for everybody, but um, I , I think it'll be, even if it's virtual for some people, I think it'll be great content. So , um, Monique, I really appreciate you carving out part of your Monday to, to come meet with us. I was excited to spend some time I could chat with you for a lot longer. I think there's a lot to talk about. So maybe we'll have , uh , a session too at some point, but thank you so much for being a part of it.

Speaker 3:

Thank you for letting me be a part of it. Um, I've really enjoyed it. It's kind of like motivational Monday. So I've enjoyed spending this time with you, Ryan and your audience.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Love motivational Monday. I like it. Keep up the good work down there and we'll, we'll stay in touch. Okay,

Speaker 3:

Great. Thank you.

Speaker 2:

You bet.

Speaker 1:

Thank you for listening to this episode of the childcare podcast, to get more insights on ways to succeed in your childcare business, make sure to hit subscribe in your podcast app. So you never miss an episode. And if you want even more childcare business tips, tricks and strategies, head over to our resource center@procaresoftware.com until next time.