Last week when listening to a feature on the cost of childcare in Ireland on Today FM’s Last Word with Matt Cooper, I was struck by the rather alarming findings from Early Childcare Ireland on the cost of doing business in the sector.
Their report states that the average childcare service in Ireland, whether private or community run, urban or rural, is operating on a break-even basis.
For those that do make a small profit, it’s usually too little to re-invest or provide good career opportunities for staff, making recruitment and retention of good team members a huge challenge.
Consider the additional external factors coming down the tracks such as an increase in minimum wage, increases in refuse costs, rents, rates and insurance, the task of building a sustainable, profitable childcare business may seem unachievable!
Making a Profit In Childcare
Fortunately, that doesn’t have to be the case. Just like any other type of business, you can build a very successful and profitable childcare business by implementing some small but significant changes to your business model, and introducing systems to measure the numbers.
Hear Nessa from Little Learners Success Story…
Case in point is one of our clients Nessa McNamara who established the award winning Little Learners Montessori & Pre-School in Drumcondra in September 2011.
Back then Little Learners was a preschool running for 3 hours a day, catering for children aged 3 – 5 years, with a maximum of 33 children.
Nessa’s business concept was an instant success. Parents loved her unique combination of a creative curriculum delivered through the Montessori method. The business strived to be a friend and support the family first. The business end of things came second as a result it struggled to keep it’s door open at the end of its first year.
Nessa sought help and funding from her local bank, and her AIB bank manager suggested she consider a Business Training and Coaching programme run by ActionCOACH. This course informed and opened Nessa’s eyes on how to structure a business without losing its essential charm.
Today Little Learners is starting into its seventh year, employs over 30 team members, has 3 locations and caters for over 380 families. Nessa has turned what she originally described as a ‘hobby’ business that was just covering the costs into a highly profitable enterprise that has won multiple awards, has a firm plan for the future and most importantly of all has not lost its heart.
Please take a moment to listen to Nessa’s success story in her own word’s in this short 1 minute video:
If you would like more information on how you could achieve similar results to Nessa, we would love to speak with you, so please take a moment to fill in your details below and we will be in touch:
A system is a set of principles or procedures that specify how particular tasks are done, and that trained team members can replicate without you.
As your company grows it’s not possible to keep your finger in every pie. In order to build a successful business, you need to introduce systems and processes that can be automated as much as possible.
Good system’s implemented properly, should not only guarantee that your customers are receiving a consistent level of service, they will also enable your business to operate more smoothly and profitably. As we say at ActionCOACH – People run your systems, systems run your business!
Some key systems you will need to build as your company becomes more sophisticated include everything from the simple daily office operation systems (e.g. how the phone is answered), to your sales process, customer support systems, inventory systems, invoicing and accountancy processes, recruitment, training and appraisal systems, among others.
In order to help you get started, there are 4 basic steps to systemisation:
1. Flowchart your processes
The basic rule for systemising is ‘Systemise the routine – humanise the exception’. Make a list of all the things that are done in your business that are repetitive, or perhaps that a lower paid team member could be doing if it were systemised. Then flowchart each process. This will show you how it all fits together.
2. Document how it gets done
Ask the team member who is currently doing the job to write down every step in performing a task. This person then gets a different team member to complete the task following the process. If the person currently doing the task has to step in and explain anything to the new person then that information is added to the step, etc.
3. Manage & measure using Key Performance Indicators
There’s no point having a system in place if it’s not effective. Once you’ve set up a system, make sure you’re measuring the results as you go along. If people are still dropping the ball and you’ve got a system, it means there’s something wrong with the system, not with the person. Typically, your KPI’s will be the top five measures to show system performance. Get these from the person doing the job (i.e. in sales you could use number of leads, conversion rate, average euro sale etc.)
4. Allow the system to change/grow as your business changes and grows.
Ensure that each system is reliable, self-correcting and scaleable so as to allow it to evolve at the same pace that your business evolves.
Some final tips:
Don’t over complicate systems or people won’t follow them.
Use lots of photos, videos etc. This may be as simple as printing a computer screen or videoing someone doing the task at hand. This will make the systems much easier to follow.
Document your system in a policies and procedures or operations manual in an easy to access format. And make sure everyone has a copy or knows where it is! Require all of your team members to periodically review the manual with the goal of identifying needed changes on a timely and qualitative basis.
Communicate who is responsible for making any changes to policies and procedures.
If you would like more information on how to introduce systems into your business, or if you would like to avail of a complimentary Business Review with one of our top Coaches to uncover ways to grow and improve your business, please fill in your details below and we will be in touch to arrange your appointment:
There is nothing more frustrating than a sales person trying to sell you something you don’t want! Don’t you agree?
If a prospective customer gives you a call, drops you an email or visits your store they are interested in your product or service. If they don’t make a purchase something has gone wrong in your sales process. And more often than not, the problem is that you have not uncovered your potential customer’s true needs.
With so much information now at our fingertips, and the ability to purchase almost anything online from the comfort of our couches, the modern sales professionals must really prove their value as consultants, rather than pushy sales people trying to sell their most expensive product. You must offer the right mix of assistance, understanding and advice to help clients make better decisions about what they buy.
By incorporating these 4 simple steps when first connecting with your prospects, it will help build their trust in you, guide them through the sales funnel faster, and if they’re a fit for your offering, it will most likely result in a sale:
To make the experience useful and genuine for your prospective customer, you must be an expert on the product or services you are selling and which they are interested in purchasing. Be one step ahead of your competitors. Advise your prospect about how your product or service differs from competitive offerings. Without this knowledge, the customer will soon see that they are better off going to the internet for answers, than talking with a sales person who doesn’t know their stuff!
Ask Relevant Questions
I cannot stress how important it is to understand your prospects needs. In most instances you are not selling a product, but rather a solution to a problem. Here are some good probing questions to get your prospect to open up so you uncover their real needs and present the perfect solution:
What are you looking to improve on?
Do you have any initial ideas of what you’d like and why?
Who will be the users? Do they need to be involved in the final decision?
How often will you use the products or services?
What’s most important to you?
It’s also really useful to discover what the budget is to ensure you don’t waste your own, or their time going through products or services they are never going to buy! A good way to open up this discussion is by saying:
If you’re working towards a certain budget, and are happy to tell me broadly what it is, I can try and point you to the most relevant options.
The point of these questions is to find out enough to be able to advise your customer well.
Now that you have a full picture of your prospects needs, it’s time to offer your thoughts and solutions. Frame your suggestions with phrases like “I think I understand that A, B and C are most important to you. With that in mind, you may want to explore products X, Y and Z as they most closely meet your requirements.” Explain the differences between each product so that customers can prioritise what’s most important to them. Remember to keep it simple though – you don’t want to overload your prospect with too many options as this could lead to confusion and delayed decision-making.
Be Patient but don’t forget to follow up!
When you have presented your solutions, don’t rush the sale. Ask their opinion and develop your listening skills to give potential clients the opportunity to tell you what they really want. It’s important to not apply pressure, just offers of genuine help.
Finally, not all prospects will be willing to close the sale there and then. This doesn’t mean the sales process is over. Make sure you get their contact details, follow up to see if you can provide any more help or assistance and check in to see if they are well enough informed to make their decision and follow through on the sale.
If you would like to learn more about perfecting your sales process, come along to our next Sales Success Workshop Friday 5th February. Click here for more information and to register your place or call us on 01 891 6220.
Technical skills can only take you so far, what you really need in order to climb the success ladder, are leadership skills. With the exception of the few who are born great leaders, the majority of us needs to nurture the right set of skills to be able to lead well. The focus of this post is to to tell you how to improve your leadership skills, and we start by listing down some of the primary traits you need to work on.
1. Be Likeable
Most employees complain of a grumpy boss and the lack of a positive work environment. The boss being not likable has also been identified as one of the major factors for people to consider switching jobs. Being likeable is therefore integral in the corporate environment. Appreciate people’s efforts, have a sense of humour, offer advice as needed – your employees should see you as someone they want to learn from.
2. Listening Effectively
For a leader, one of the most important skills is listening. You won’t be able to get feedback from the employees without listening skills. However, be mindful of the non-verbal communication as well. To determine what people really mean, you should be able to read gestures and body language well.
3. Dealing with Difficult People
Disciplining your team members when they are not doing well is tricky. Resolve the problem while it’s still fresh. Speak to the responsible person alone. Even if you do reprimand them in private, do not humiliate them in public. Give them a chance to explain, and by all means avoid, getting petty and personal.
Integrity is one of the qualities you need to work upon if you want to improve as a leader. Whether or not something is in your personal best interests, should be an irrelevant factor if it doesn’t reflect integrity as a leader; you need to be a role model for your workforce.
The standard of successful leadership has shifted from exerting authority to influencing people. Think about actions you can take to be more influential if you want to improve your leadership skills.
If you would like more advice on how to improve your Leadership Skills please complete our short expression of interest form or join us at our next workshop How to Create A High Performance Team, Friday 27th November.Click herefor more information and to register you place today.
As we are in the final quarter of 2015 and the award season has just begun, now is the perfect opportunity for your business to stand out from competitors and gain the recognition you deserve for your outstanding results.
Becoming an Award Winning Business comes with big rewards:
It’s always nice to receive praise for doing something well.
Winning gives you a reason to reach out to the press and social media and share your success story. In addition, the event itself provides a great opportunity to network with other business owners and with local or national press.
Promoting your success through the right channels will naturally bring new leads to your door as they hear you are the best at what you do.
Such accolades help to keep you and your entire team motivated.
You will attract the right kind of team into your business – the best want to work for the best!
Finally, if you set yourself and your team a goal to win a business award the level of service in your business will improve. If you win you will strive to maintain your great standards.
We would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate some of our clients who have already been successful on the awards front this year.
Winner of Best Traditional Pub of the Year: National Hospitality Awards 2015
Damien Joyce – Lowrys Bar
Winner of Paint Distributor of the Year: Irish Auto Trade Awards 2015
John O’Hanlon – National Autoparts
Winner Best Customer Service: Carlow Business Awards 2015
Balazs Stumpf-Biro – Carlow Dental Centre
Well done again and we hope you reap the awards of your recent success. Best of luck to all the other business owners who are waiting on awards yet to be announced. We hope to see you on the award stage soon and would love to hear your success story.
If you would like some help achieving award winning results please get in contact with us or complete our short expression of interest form as we would be happy to help you and your business to future success.