Dani Christine has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. From making oobleck slime in 6th grade and selling it to friends to starting her own babysitting business in high school, Dani has taken her enthusiasm for building businesses and combined it with her passion for young children to operate multiple child care sites. Learn about her journey and how she – an introvert – has created a media brand and child care consulting business in just a few short years.
Dani Christine is host of the Child Care Sites & Sounds podcast. Dani has been in the child care industry for a decade. After gaining valuable experience as a babysitter and preschool teacher, she opened her first child care business in 2014.
Since then, she has operated a multi-site child care business and shares her tips and techniques with providers around the world on her YouTube channel. In 2019, Dani expanded her brand in 2019 and launched her consulting agency, Dani Christine, Inc.
In addition to providing support for aspiring and new child care business owners, Dani uses the childcaresites.com platform to offer helpful resources for child care professionals.
To get more insights on ways to succeed in your child care business, head over to our Resource Center at https://www.procaresoftware.com/resource-center/.
Have an idea for a podcast or want to be a guest? Email us at [email protected]
Speaker 1 (00:08):
[inaudible] welcome to the childcare business podcast brought to you by ProCare solutions. This podcast is all about giving childcare, preschool, daycare, afterschool, and other early 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 of transformation and triumph. This podcast will be chalk full and insights you can use to fully realize the potential of your childcare business. Let's jump in
Speaker 2 (00:53):
Everyone and welcome to the childcare business podcast. Once again, my name is Ryan. Gwaltney really excited to have you join us today. And today we're talking with someone who many of you may be familiar with if you're a podcast listener. Uh, Danny Christine is the host of the childcare sights and sounds podcast, and she's joining us this morning. Um, but before we jump in with Danny, I want to give you a taste of her background. Uh, Danny's been in the childcare industry for a decade after gaining valuable experience as a babysitter and preschool teacher. Uh, she opened her very first childcare business in 2014. Uh, since then she has operated a multi-site childcare business and shares her tips and techniques with providers around the world on her YouTube channel, uh, in 2019, uh, Danny expanded her brand and launched her consulting agency, Danny Christine, Inc.
Speaker 2 (01:45):
Um, in addition to providing support for aspiring and new childcare business owners, Danny uses the childcare sites.com platform to offer helpful resources for childcare professionals. Uh, Danny, welcome to the show. Thanks for having me, Ryan. I'm so excited to be here. I kind of just binged all your episodes and the past week. Oh man, I'm sorry. I'm sorry. You had to hear so much of my voice, but gives you a little, maybe a little idea of what to expect. And I, you know, I was telling you this before we jumped on the air. I mean, you know, from, from my perspective, which our marketing team has given me, like, like free reign, I said, I'd love to participate. Uh, if we're going to do it, it kind of just has to be my personality too. And, you know, easy go and, and just try to talk story and have a conversation with our guests.
Speaker 2 (02:33):
So, you know, I'm a huge fan of just hearing people's stories, because I just think even without intentionally trying to draw things out, just hearing about you, we'll allow you to share some of the value of what you bring to this industry. And I think there'll be people always that we'll be able to glean from that. So, um, so with that being said, do you, like before we talk a little bit about your professional experience and what you're doing in the industry, um, can you just talk to me a little bit about, like, where are you from? Where did you grow up and where do you currently reside at this stage of your life?
Speaker 3 (03:08):
Sure. Yeah, so I'm from New York and that's where I grew up. I moved around a lot when I was younger in my elementary school years. Um, I was born in Mount Vernon, New York, which is in Westchester County. Um, and it's near the Bronx. So like it's about 45 minutes away from Manhattan for those that might are not familiar. Um, yeah, so I was born there. I moved around a lot to different parts of Westchester County. And then I spent the most of my childhood years in long Island, New York, and, um, a couple last going on two years now. I moved out of New York for the first time and I'm currently in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. So I made that move in June of 2019.
Speaker 2 (04:00):
Got it. And what was it like as a, as a child, like growing up, you talk about moving around a lot. What, what were the causes for moving? Was it like job situations for family? Was it just, um, finding different places to live? What was, what was the, the moving around back in the day?
Speaker 3 (04:16):
You know, I not going to lie to you, Ryan. I'm not too sure because I have never had those conversations with my parents. I know my mom is in the military and I think it had a lot to do with like the jobs that she was working at the time. Um, so yeah, I did move around a lot when I was living with her in my elementary years. And then she was deployed overseas when I was 11. So, um, or she was supposed to be deployed overseas when I was 11 and ended up being stationed in New Jersey. And at that time I had to move in with my dad and started going to school in long Island. And that's kind of where I had my teenage years. Um, a few years after, after that, um, when I was in college, my mom actually did end up going overseas and yeah. So now she's, she's still in the military. I have started moving around again. And, um, yeah, that's just what I've been used to.
Speaker 2 (05:22):
Yeah. Yeah. What, what branch of the military is your mom? And if you don't mind me asking, got it. Yeah. So she didn't go overseas, but from New York to New Jersey, maybe as like a young person that seems like overseas, New Jersey is a long ways away.
Speaker 3 (05:34):
I, you know, I don't want to, I'm not going to complain. I did get the opportunity that many children that are, um, of military parents don't have where I was able to see her often. Um, because she wasn't so far. So I'm appreciative of that. I saw her at least like two or three times a month when I was, um, away from her and when I was growing up. So, um, I don't want to take anything away from that, but when I, she waited until I went to college to have to go overseas. So,
Speaker 2 (06:08):
Yeah. Overseas. And so both parents were, were present for you, like growing up, like what about, what about Danny as a young person? Like if we, if we look back as like eight year old, 10 year old, 12 year old, Danny, like, what would we find you doing? What was your, what was your thing? Was it sports? Was it creative? Was it the arts? Was it hanging out with
Speaker 3 (06:27):
You would actually that young, you would actually probably find me playing school with my little cousins. I'm an only child. So, but I do come from a big extended family. I have so many cousins and I'm kind of like right in the middle age group, I'm on both sides of my family with like the ages of the cousins. Um, and I was always playing with my younger cousins, like acting as if I was a teacher teaching them different things. And that's really, I think I remember looking in my kindergarten yearbook and seeing, um, at that time they had us tell our favorite color and what we wanted to be when we grew up. And I actually said when I was five years old, that I wanted to be a teacher and that stayed with me all the way until I got to college. Um, and I was constantly just interested in, um, education
Speaker 2 (07:28):
[inaudible] you must've read my mind. My followup question was going to be like growing up. Do you remember thinking about like as an adult or what I dream about being, do you know what it was about being a teacher that you were drawn to? Was there a teacher early in your life that was influential to you or was it just you enjoy?
Speaker 3 (07:47):
Yeah, I think that I enjoyed school for the most part, but I do, I can probably tell you every single one of the names of my elementary school teachers for every grade do think that my teachers made a really strong impact on me. And I don't know if it's because, especially in elementary school, I moved around a lot. So those memories are like my first day of school experiences were really often like in a new environment. So maybe they stuck with me more, but my teachers definitely did have a significant impact on me growing up. And I think that is probably what caused me to feel like I wanted to also be a teacher when I grew up.
Speaker 2 (08:34):
Yeah. Yeah. Do you remember like what those first days of school as a young person, like probably walking into schools, you don't know anybody everybody's got friends. Was there, was there any teacher specifically, like anything you can remember about like a first day of school where, where you're like that teacher made a difference? Like literally I remember they made me feel welcome or had an impact. Is there anything that stands out and don't feel like you have to say yes if you can't remember something, I'm just curious if there's something that, that comes up.
Speaker 3 (09:07):
Um, I would say that I do have, my fourth grade teacher does come to mind that year was not a transitional year for me. I, I wasn't, um, I didn't move in fourth grade. Um, I think at that point it was probably the longest amount of time. I stayed at one school and I just really enjoyed being in her class. Um, she definitely made us feel all of us, not just me, but in the class made pretty much all of us feel like we were having fun in school every day. And I just have the most memories from her classroom. I can't really put my finger on why, but it just felt fun and special to go to school in her class every day.
Speaker 2 (09:57):
Yeah, no, that's actually a great answer because I think that is without having to think about it, what comes to mind as a young person, when we think back on school and the fact that you think of fourth grade, obviously, you know, speaks to, you know, that teacher's ability to connect and, you know, make kids feel special and make kids feel like I'm excited to go to school and be a part of this. And then as you traveled through school, I was reading a little bit of your, your background. I think you ended up after high school going to school in New York at St. John's. Did you, did you study early education or what was your path when you first entered, you know, your undergrad program?
Speaker 3 (10:35):
So I went to St. John's thinking that I was going to graduate and begin teaching in a public elementary school. Like that was my goal. So I went and studied childhood education grades one to six. Um, so that's where I thought I was going to be
Speaker 2 (10:55):
One through six. And then, so you and I also think that you had an emphasis, did some psychology work or took some psychology courses?
Speaker 3 (11:05):
Well, it was mandatory at St. John's for some reason. I don't know if they still do this, but in the school of education at St. John's, they foresee to take a, what they call a concentration. So it's not necessarily a major and a minor, a minor, but it's a major and a concentration, which was, I believe, 18 credits in, um, something. So either, um, I just remember not being too sure of if I wanted to pick psychology or sociology and for whatever reason, I just leaned more towards psychology. So I took 18 credits in psychology classes in addition to the hundred plus credits in, in education. Got it. And
Speaker 2 (11:54):
Then, so during your time there, obviously you went in thinking it was going to be the elementary track and first through sixth grade, was there a point through that process where you realized, like that's not really what I'm passionate about or where I want to head? Or was it more like doors just opened for you and maybe if the followup to that would be, what were the doors that started opening that led you kind of towards the early education path and childcare?
Speaker 3 (12:21):
I would definitely say it's the doors, doors definitely started opening and I've just kind of been living my life and running my business in that way, up until this day, like just being prepared for different opportunities that present themselves. So with that, to answer the followup question, I'll start with when I was in high school, um, I believe I was 15 or 16 looking for a job, a part-time job. And one of my teachers, um, in home act mentioned that she had an older student, like, because she was in, in that high school for so many years. So she now has a student that has their own child that needed babysitting. So, um, she connected me with one of her old students and I became her child's babysitter. So that was my first job while I was in high school. And from there, I remember if I remember correctly, like the hours that she needed me, it just wasn't consistent.
Speaker 3 (13:23):
It wasn't enough money for me back then. So I was looking for something more as the years went on. And especially in my senior year, I was looking for like, like a more consistent like part-time job. So I remember driving around in my neighborhood trying to find different places to, um, get work at that involved working with children. And one day I was literally sitting at a stop light. I looked over to my right and I saw that there was a daycare center that I I've lived in that neighborhood for so many years. I'd never seen it before. And I think the reason is because it was just kind of pushed back off the street and you probably wouldn't have seen that. It was there if you didn't literally just turn and look at it. So I was at the stoplight, saw the daycare pulled in, cause I happened to have a copy of my resume because at that time we were working on our resumes in high school, in our career class or whatever it was I had that walked in, handed my resume to my former employer.
Speaker 3 (14:33):
And, um, she didn't call me right away. It was probably a couple months later, um, that she gave me a call and said she needed an assistant teacher for like after school and I didn't interview. She just gave me the job. Um, which might've been that just for me now, thinking about it, it was just meant for me to be thrown into, into this, um, field. So I started working in childcare at seven. I think I had just turned, Nope, I've just turned 17 years old, um, working during my senior year of high school in that childcare program. And because I ended up going to St. John's, which was only 20 minutes away from my hometown from that daycare, I was able to stay employed there through college. Um, and I just took on more of a full-time role while I was at St. John's while also being a full-time student. So that's kind of where the introduction to early childhood came for me.
Speaker 2 (15:42):
Got it. So you're going to school studying kind of, to be on track, to be in elementary, but during that you're working actually in a childcare program, do in those days, like working at, at the center during college, were you teaching, like, what was the age that you were working with and do you remember some of the early lessons that you were learning about the business during your days working in that school?
Speaker 3 (16:08):
Yes, absolutely. Um, I was teaching, um, sorry for that noise. I was teaching three year olds. I was in a classroom with predominantly three year olds. Um, and I remember just being really excited about the different creative things that I could do and just being able to organize things creatively. I'm a Virgo I'm so organized location is something that I love doing. And I remember staying there after, after my shift had ended. I don't remember on my first week, my boss had come in a couple of times, like, you know, you can go home now, but I was in the middle of like, you know, fixing our bulletin board or doing something creative that I really enjoyed doing at that time. Um, and as far as lessons learned, um, working with the children, it definitely in itself was like, I really enjoy. Cause at this time I had already had some experience, um, St John's was really good about making sure that if you want to be in education, we're going to put you in classrooms, um, as early as possible for observation hours.
Speaker 3 (17:24):
So I had been in elementary school classrooms, um, for the first, my first and second semester of freshman year, uh, observing how things went in the classroom. Um, and I was comparing that experience to my experience, uh, teaching in this preschool. And I started to realize really quickly, uh, within my freshmen here that I would probably prefer early childhood. The issue was, uh, with, you know, the track that I was on St. John's they did not offer a early childhood degree program underground. So I couldn't like switch majors and, um, I just, wasn't going to go through transferring schools. Everything was too convenient for me. Um, I already made my friends, I loved the consistency. I was just gonna finish my program. So yeah, I think that was the major lesson for me that I preferred younger children. And also I started to get a taste of like what a not so great work environment can be as far as like your coworkers or things that go on, I guess, on the business side. Um, but yeah, those are the two biggest lessons for me.
Speaker 2 (18:46):
Yeah. Which are really big lessons. I mean, you learn, you know, oftentimes what things are going really well and things that are, are good to emulate. And then you also learn about, you know, things like, Hey, that's, there's a better way to go about it and things that aren't constructive. Do you remember, like as a teacher for three year olds from day one walking into that classroom, was that a comfortable feeling for you? Like, Hey, I feel comfortable in front of this group and feel like I'm kind of called to do this, or was it more you had to grow into that and certainly there was development along the way, but were you comfortable from day one or was it outside of your comfort zone?
Speaker 3 (19:22):
No, I was definitely comfortable with the children. Um, I am a naturally shy person, believe it or not. And being around the other adults in a new, like our real job is what I considered it at first was definitely intimidating. I felt like, you know, I didn't really have a warm welcome. Um, it took me a while to make friends at the job. Um, and I just, you know, the way that I came in there wasn't really a onboarding or an orientation or anything like that, or introduction to other team members. I was just in a classroom and, you know, so dealing with the kids was definitely comfortable for me. Um, when I am around older children, I'll say like, when I go into the elementary school settings or even how to experience, um, substitute teaching for middle school. And I can tell you about that a little bit later. I do not feel this thing. I'm more competent and comfortable around the little one
Speaker 2 (20:35):
Younger kids that one's a little bit more like getting thrown into the fire hall with middle-schoolers. Yeah. I bet you have some war stories with that in any where you also cause this kind of threads in a little bit with your experience and what you've done since then to Danny, but at that time working in the daycare, did you know that you had an entrepreneurial spirit, did you know, like opening a business or, uh, kind of running something of your own was something that you would want to do or were kind of the seeds being planted at that time when you were working in the school?
Speaker 3 (21:06):
So I definitely have memories of doing things, things that would demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit, um, from when I was in elementary school as early as six grade. Uh, I remember, um, I don't know. Do you know what Uber black is?
Speaker 2 (21:23):
I do not know what Uber is, but I think I'm about to find out I'm looking forward to it.
Speaker 3 (21:29):
Ooh, black. I think the term comes from don't quote me. I could be wrong, but I think it's from a Dr. Seuss book, it's basically like slime or what kids nowadays would call slides. So when I was in elementary school, um, we used to have a science project. I would say probably I did this two or three times in different grades growing up, but it was putting glue and baking soda or baking powder into a bag with food coloring and water or something like that, mixing it up and it would be Uber black. And I think we just, it was a project based on a book that we were reading or something that we watched or something at that time. Um, so during that unit of study, I took it upon myself after learning how to make blue, black, I went home and made a whole bunch of it. And I started, I brought it with me to school the next day and was selling it to the kids I got in a lot of trouble for doing that.
Speaker 2 (22:38):
Yeah. Okay. So you had little zit, like little baggies, little Zippy Ziplocs. Okay.
Speaker 3 (22:45):
Of who black. And I remember the principal found out about it. I had to, there was some sort of fundraiser for a natural disaster that happened at that time going on. And I had to give them money that I took from other children to the fundraiser, which was fine. But, um, yeah. So I remember doing that. I also remember during my freshman year of college, at one point I was really into, um, different like beauty products and hair products and things like that. That's actually how my YouTube channel got started with doing like beauty reviews on YouTube. And, uh, I started selling hair or I thought that I was going to start selling hair products. I didn't really go anywhere. I didn't feel the need to, I didn't want to invest as much time as it took. Um, but I had a whole business plan mapped out for what I thought I was about to do. Um, so yeah, I've always had the itch in, uh, doing something honorable.
Speaker 2 (23:53):
Yeah. I mean, it must be correct me if I'm wrong on this, but it must be. So your worlds are kind of starting to collide a little bit, both the childcare path, the entrepreneur path, what you were doing on YouTube, but you made reference earlier that, you know, you're naturally a shy person. So was that like, like even like the YouTube piece and putting yourself out there was that early on, like, I feel called to do this and I want to push into it, but it was hard for you or did that also come naturally to just kind of start your YouTube channel and go for it?
Speaker 3 (24:25):
So YouTube wasn't hard for me because I don't think that it's necessarily like breaking out of my shell, get on camera in a room by myself and just talk to the camera. Right. Cause that's, that's how it feels. What I couldn't do that I am better at doing now in the beginning when I have made to channel, it was hard for me to tell people about it. Cause that's the part that was embarrassing or that I was too shy to like announce it to people that this is what I'm doing. Um, and when it, especially when I first started, I was talking about like beauty related things. So who am I, you know, in my mind, lingual, might've talked about that. Like why that's, um, sub subject to what people believe. So I just, I didn't really push my channel at that time. It kind of grew organically.
Speaker 3 (25:22):
Um, and then the reason that it switched gears to daycare related stuff is because when I did open my home daycare, um, I mentioned it in one of my regular YouTube videos that I would post about something else. And I started getting a whole bunch of comments and questions from people about like, Oh, you have a daycare now I want to open a daycare. How did you do that? What website did you go to? Do you have to do that? Like, I got a whole bunch of questions at one time. So I made a Q and a video to answer all those questions and then it just kept rolling in and I kind of just switched gears completely, which I'm happy with.
Speaker 2 (26:07):
Yeah. Which you realized like this is where I have some experience now and some talent and there's an audience that needs some of the information that I have. So, so talk to me about that path. You were working in the daycare, going to school at St. John's, obviously you finished school. How did you move into opening your own daycare? What was the Genesis of that? And then yeah. What were the steps that you went through to actually make that happen?
Speaker 3 (26:32):
Sure. Yeah. So around my, um, towards the end of my sophomore year at St John's like beginning of junior year, I started to get that entrepreneurial itch again, of like, you know, what do I want to do next? Or I, I remember thinking about, um, what I think I saw the tuition rates at my, uh, at my job at the time, like what the, my boss was charging families. Um, and I started sitting down and counting like how many kids there are here. And I remember in high school, my senior year of high school before I went to college, us doing an activity of like, where we want to be in five years in 10 years in 20 years. And I remember saying that I wanted to, after working in a public elementary school setting for, I think it was, I think I said 10 or 15 years that I wanted to open my own school.
Speaker 3 (27:36):
I had no idea what that entailed or I didn't know. It was like, I'm, I wasn't thinking childcare business or anything like that. I just wanted to open my own school. Um, and I started to think at that time, fast forward into now my junior year, right before my junior year of college and looking at, you know, the amount of children and the school, I was the preschool I was working in. Um, I'm wondering if this would be a good business opportunity. And then just being curious about the process of opening a daycare in general, I didn't know that daycares needed a license. I didn't know that there was like zoning associated with like a commercial property versus a home, a residential property or anything like that. So I started doing research about like, how do you open a daycare? Like this would be something good for me to know in the future.
Speaker 3 (28:35):
If I, if the school that I want to open is a childcare center. Like how would I do it? So I started talking to the friend that I finally made out, um, about it. And she had mentioned to me that like her, I think she said her, her friend or her family member has a home daycare. And that's what she is looking to do. I think she mentioned like the following year, I had no idea what a home daycare was. I hadn't seen too many of that, any of them where I was from, or maybe I just didn't notice. But when she told me about that, I looked into home daycares and the licensing process, and I saw that it was much easier then, um, opening a center and the regulations were much less strict on top of that while doing that sort of research.
Speaker 3 (29:30):
I was talking to my dad about it and he was like, you know, if you're serious about this, I can, um, introduce you to my friend. And he can talk to you about business because his, his friend owns a lot of businesses and a lot of properties. And he was basically saying he could, I guess he could mentor me or provide some guidance in general about how to run a business. So we had a couple of dinner meetings with his friend and we ended up going to a daycare that was for sale. He CA his friend came with us as we walked through and started, like, just having those conversations about like how much it costs or what we would, what the requirements would be, or how much, uh, how much square footage the property is. And just me listening to those things at this time, I was, I think I was 19.
Speaker 3 (30:26):
Um, it, it was really beneficial for me and like launching the following year, actually my own home daycare business. Um, so I chose to leave my job at that, which are really hard decision the summer of 2014, right before my senior year at St. John's one, because I was kind of getting, you know, um, bored honestly, of the job that I had. And secondly, because I was moving out of the apartment that I had lived in with my friends at the time, um, and needed some other place to live. And I knew at that time, what home daycares work, and I knew that this was something I could take on right now. So I challenged myself to do that. And that's really just, it happened so quickly, the decision from like, what is a home daycare to now? I have one, it was probably like six to nine months in between
Speaker 2 (31:28):
Quick turn around. And did you immediately, as soon as you open that, Danny, did you have kids enrolled and kind of had a built-in pipeline in terms of families that needed care or did you have to go market yourself and find,
Speaker 3 (31:43):
I wasn't even in a neighborhood that I was familiar with. So my, I grew up, went to high school in long Island, New York, and I went to St. John's in Queens, which it's only about 20, 25 minutes from the house that I lived in, in high school. And I would say that the home daycare was right in the middle of it. So, um, about 10 minutes from St John's and about 10 minutes from my hometown, but for me at that age, when I did, I didn't get around much or didn't drive, it was completely different neighborhoods. So I did not have anybody that was interested in bringing in their child to me at that time. I just was very confident that I would be able to do it and passionate and just, you know, hoping that I'd figure it out. And I was really disappointed, um, because I left my job and did not have, you know, uh, any children until about three months into me having the home daycare. Um, I, I remember the first two students I had was the older sister and a young, younger brother. It was a mom that was just walking by and saw my sign outside and she wanted to sign up. So I had them the first two students for, uh, about three or four months by themselves until I started figuring out how to do this better, how to market better.
Speaker 2 (33:16):
Yeah. Being, being young. I mean, at 19, I think you said as the age you were at, when you started that, you know, I think sometimes as, as we move through our careers, you lose some of that youthful. Like, let's just go for it. You know, I, there's a house I learned about a home daycare. I love what I'm doing, working in the daycare. All of these pieces are coming together. Let's go for it and see what happens. And then you figure it out as you go. Um, you know, I think that's actually extraordinary because we need more people to just follow after the things that, um, that they're passionate about it. And then how long did it take you Danny after that to move? Cause I think, do you still have that home daycare or did you eventually kind of move that into like a center-based program?
Speaker 3 (34:00):
Yeah, so the same friend, um, that was helping to kind of give me guidance in the beginning prior to me opening a home daycare came back to me about two years later to ask if I would be willing to partner with him in opening a center, because he had seen what I did with the home daycare. And, you know, at that time we were full, he spoke to me for a while about, you know, what my experiences were and, um, how I could like basically feeling out what there, I knew what I was talking about or not, and then offered to partner with me to open the center. And that was a conversation that took a couple of months and planning and figuring that out. And that started in the winter of 2016. So it was about two years before, um, I transitioned to a center-based program and it was also in a completely different neighborhood. So I couldn't move the kids that I currently had into the center-based property, because it would, it would be too far for the majority of my families who were a part of that, you know, a small neighborhood who kind of walked to drop off their kids off to me for the most part.
Speaker 2 (35:17):
Sure. Yeah. So you, so you kept the home daycare open, would you say for you and I, I think everybody's situation is different, but obviously a lot of people I think that will listen to our podcast are in the industry, running centers, teachers, directors, or maybe, you know, individuals potentially looking to start a center or enter the industry somehow for you, was that path of starting in a home daycare valuable and beneficial, or looking back, what would you have gone straight to a center-based program? What, what was your experience or perspective?
Speaker 3 (35:52):
Well, honestly I did have the oppor, I didn't realize at the time, but I did have the opportunity to start in a center-based first, I think, um, I'm pretty sure that his, my dad's friend was trying to partner with me the first time that he was speaking with me and he showed me around the center that was available at the time. Um, and kind of talk to me about how it would work, but me being young and ignorant and just not really, I didn't have any money. I didn't know like what he wanted me to do. I kinda just let that go and didn't really continue communication with him because it felt impossible. Um, I'm kind of glad that that even though sometimes I think like, Oh, where would I be now if I started at that time, but I'm kind of glad that I did that because I do think that, like you said, there is a value and starting off smaller as a home daycare provider first because, um, if you recognize that whether you're in a center or a home, uh, childcare is a business, if you're taking money in exchange for watching other people's children, it is a service that you're providing.
Speaker 3 (37:09):
Um, and you should treat it as such, no matter how big or small it is. And I learned that, you know, over time, over those first two years as a home daycare provider, only because there were a lot of mistakes that I made that like, I, it would probably be really detrimental if I made those mistakes on a much larger scale, as far as like, you know, issues with employees or parents, not respecting policies or me just not even having a certain policies written about, about things like having the smaller, um, experience definitely helped to prepare me for when I had 10 times as many children to be responsible for it.
Speaker 2 (37:58):
Yeah. That's a, that's a good perspective on it because I, you know, I don't know if it's a sandbox or a test period. Not that you went into that as the idea of, I'm just going to test this strategy and philosophy, but it does give you the ability to work out some of those kinks around your business model and how you want to operate. And I, and I wanted you to share a lot of the story about your background and how you got into the industry and kind of where you came from, because I think it also then frames what you're doing now with, you know, your, your childcare center sites.com and the consulting that you do, because I want to ask you, like, as you look at your business today and you think about what you're trying to provide for the industry for other owners, can you just talk about like what you want to try to pass along and what you're trying to provide in terms of value with your brand and with your company as you look at it today?
Speaker 3 (38:52):
Yeah, absolutely. Um, so I am really just all about sharing my experiences. However I can, um, childcare sites dot-com is still really new and really I'm really trying to develop it to reach its potential, but it's brand new. I honestly want to say, I don't even know what I'm doing. I'm just answering questions that still comes to me except, um, where it, where it started five years ago with just people commenting on YouTube videos. I've now finally developed a system of like actually, um, replying to people, keeping them private book, uh, doing virtual, um, personal consultations where they can ask me questions. It took me a long time just to think of the concept of like, Oh, people want to talk to me. I'm not really comfortable giving phone numbers to strangers on the internet so I can use zoom. You know, it took me like two years to figure that out.
Speaker 3 (39:57):
Um, and I just, I childcare sites.com is still developing, but in general, I just want to share my experiences with other people. Because when I first started as a home daycare provider there, like I mentioned, there was so many mistakes that I made. And on top of that, even if I didn't feel like I was doing something wrong, it was just a really hard, um, hard job in the beginning. And it feels lonely at times, if you don't have a community, if you don't realize that there is support, if you don't realize that other people are going through, honestly, the same exact situations, um, you'd be surprised how many times I get on a consult with people or, um, nowadays with social media, the different Facebook groups, or I don't know if you've heard of an app called clubhouse, uh, I'm on clubhouse talking to a lot of childcare providers and everybody shares their stories and others are so surprised that like, Oh my gosh, this happened to you.
Speaker 3 (41:01):
Um, I put out a, um, I'm, I'm trying to get into like, uh, either Tik TOK or Instagram reels. And I put one out yesterday about how we're struggling with the hiring process and people were commenting. Like I thought it was just me. So knowing that there's some, someone else, thousands of people going through the same thing is really important to me because they can each, they can give each other ideas. So I'm really trying to build a community on top of sharing my experiences and kind of giving people whatever solutions to their issues that I possibly can. Um, most of the people that book me for consultations just have no idea where to start. They don't just like I did. I didn't know that you needed a license. I didn't know who to go to, to get that license. So I do a lot of pointing people in the right direction, um, of like who their local licensing agency is, um, what they need to pay attention to in the regulations when they're looking for properties, uh, and just different startup, uh, stuff like that. So that's really what I'm trying to do.
Speaker 2 (42:19):
Yeah. Is that what you're finding, like for a lot of your consultations, a lot of the individuals we're reaching out to, is it a lot of people who are looking to start their own programs? Is it a lot of people already running programs? Is it a mix? What does that look like for you?
Speaker 3 (42:34):
I would say it's probably about 65 to 70% people who don't have any programs yet and are looking to start and just need some guidance on either how to do it or the best way to do it. Or like, you know, the encouragement, like go do it. You've got it. You got your plan down. Like, you don't need permission, just go do it, try it, um, start where you are with what you have. Right. Um, and the other 30 to 35% are people that are in the very beginning stages of they have their programs. They just need some help getting the first few kids through the door, or they don't understand how to find employees and, um, or how I get questions. Like, how do you, how do you do payroll? Like, um, like there's companies for that, you can just get it, make sure your taxes, you're not messing up with your taxes, just answering those simple questions that I now realize are simple, but I understand why it's not so simple for them. They don't know that certain things exist.
Speaker 2 (43:42):
Yeah. If you haven't done it before, is there any, maybe just as kind of a, like a tying together, like this conversation a little bit, when you talk with your clients and when you're engaged with your community, is there just from your experience to this point, is if there's any advice that you would give to potential childcare entrepreneurs, like at this stage, knowing what, you know, listening to the conversations that you have every day, if there was because we need, there's so many childcare deserts across the country and, and coming out of, you know, COVID, I know you've referenced this, we keep hearing it too about the need for really quality teachers and staff for our industry. Um, so we need resources like yourself that are educating people on the benefits of coming in and being successful. Is there, is there that comes to mind, like, if you're like, Hey, if I have a billboard or I have the ability to stand up in front of a group of potential childcare entrepreneurs and share one or two pieces of like, you know, insightful, you know, information, anything that comes to mind that you share.
Speaker 3 (44:49):
Yeah, absolutely. Um, I would definitely try to encourage everyone not to be afraid of what they think is competition. Um, I'm very much, uh, understanding that not every program is right for every family and not every family is right for every program. And no matter how much, you know, um, centers or home daycare programs might be in the area that you're considering opening, don't feel like what you have to offer is not needed in the area where my first center-based location is it's one square mile and there's five other daycare centers within that one square mile. Um, if I'm not mistaken and our program prior to COVID was full over capacity, um, with different scheduling options and stuff with a wait list, um, it's definitely possible to be successful. If you just focus on your own business, I don't want to be mean and say mind your business, but focus on your own business.
Speaker 3 (45:56):
Don't, um, don't worry about the competition acknowledge that they're there. And if you can, you know, develop friendly relationships, that's great. Because like I said before, if you have a family that's not a right fit for your program, maybe the one down the street would be a better fit and you could refer families back and forth as needed, but I don't want people to be discouraged about, you know, whether or not they'd be a right fit to open a program where they're thinking I just opened my second center in September of 2020 during COVID in an area where there were already again in a different community, five other centers in that area. Um, and where we last month got to the point where we were full after just six months. So it's possible to be successful if you focus on your business
Speaker 2 (46:50):
On you. So I gotta ask about that. I know I said that was maybe my last question, but were you already planning to open that center prior to all the craziness of last year? Or was it an opportunity that presented itself because of some of the things that happened last year?
Speaker 3 (47:06):
So both, um, I have a goal to open as many centers as I can, as you know, how whenever, however, they come about, I'm open to continuing to open centers. So we were always preparing ourselves and preparing my team, you know, to like, I would always say things like, you know, when, when we get another location, whatever, whatever, I'm not even being close to having another location, but just preparing our operations for shifting to that way to being multi-site multi-site. Um, and because of COVID, I, you know, in doing research realize there was a lot of centers that closed down and didn't reopen. I reached out to some centers that I knew were closed at that time for months to find out if they would be willing, if the owner of the business was the owner of the property, if they'd be willing to either sell or lease the space and where our second center is located right now, that's exactly what happened. The landlord, um, that we have now was the owner of the center that was there and he didn't want anything to do with the business anymore. So he sold us his, um, equipment and furniture and stuff inside and, uh, leased the space to us. So it was, it was a quick transition and it was perfect.
Speaker 2 (48:34):
Yeah. Perfect turnkey opportunity. Good stuff. Do you last question, cause I know I want to be respectful of time and, and I could continue this conversation. There's other things I want to kind of, I want to keep asking about, even about that new center you open, but just for, you know, maybe a fun question. I know you moved recently from New York to Philly. Um, what's the transition been like? What's the greatest thing about Philly that you found so far? Um, or maybe something you've been surprised about Philly that you'd, weren't expecting anything that stands out.
Speaker 3 (49:09):
You know, I moved here in June of 2019 and spent a lot of time, those first, like three to six months going back and forth to New York because of, you know, I have my center there. I wasn't sure like how things are going, just trying to learn how to be an offsite owner. Um, so I didn't get to experience Philly as much as I wish I could have before COVID came around. Um, because within a six to nine months, I think after that was when we were on lockdown. But I will say that I found a lot of great food here. Not even just Philly cheese steaks. I've never, I've never had them before moving here. So now it's one of my favorite foods, chicken, cheese, steak with provolone cheese. But there's also just a lot of great restaurants in the area that I'm in. Um, and that's what I love so far, but I hope to like get out more, hopefully as things go to a new
Speaker 2 (50:14):
And find more. Yeah, that's what I was going to ask if that Philly cheese steaks were, you know, if they, if the reputation was accurate, not, it sounds like they are. Um, and then, and then Danny, how, how can people find you? So just as a, of a closing, I obviously really appreciate being on the show, but you know, if our listeners wanted to, you know, find you online or access some of the information you've shared, can you talk about where people can find you?
Speaker 3 (50:38):
Sure. So pretty much everything like the way to contact me, access to my YouTube channel, my podcasts that you mentioned, um, in the beginning, all of that is on childcare sites.com. Anything that I do is usually published there. I also host webinars, um, a couple of times a month that are free. All of that's on childcare sites.com.
Speaker 2 (51:02):
Perfect. So they can find you there and, and I'll tell you what, this is our first opportunity to, you know, spend time with a YouTube star, you know, influencer. So it's been a lot of fun and, you know, hopefully in the future we can, we can do it again, Danny. So just want to thank you for your time and hope you enjoy the rest of your day. Thank you, Ryan.
Speaker 1 (51:22):
But thank you for listening to this episode of the childcare business 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 [email protected] until next time.