The Secret To Building a Profitable & Sustainable Childcare Business In Ireland

The Secret To Building A Profitable & Sustainable Childcare & Early Education Business In Ireland
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:

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How To Leverage Your Way To The Top


It was Archimedes that said – “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world”. Well, the same can be true in business. Learning to leverage your time can make a huge difference to your business.

One of the biggest challenges that business owners have is that their business never truly runs without them being there on a day to day basis. Our definition of a business is: a commercial, profitable enterprise that runs WITHOUT YOU. If your business does not run without you, you have a demanding job, rather than a successful enterprise.

Your time is one of your most valuable assets. The most successful business people recognise this;  they invest in people, computerised systems and other types of technology that will save them time. So ask yourself – what resources can I  investing in to save me valuable time?

The best use of your time as a business owner is not troubleshooting, being the number one contact for your customers or sorting out problems your team have made, but is in seeing new business opportunities, providing leadership to your team and mapping out the future of the business.

It is vital to remember that if you do something once without writing it down, you are destined to repeat it forever, so the key to leveraging yourself out of the day-to-day of your business is to have written systems and processes that enable it to happen.

Think of systems as ways of Saving Yourself Stress, Time, Energy and Money. Although there is an up-front investment of your valuable time, in the long run it will pay dividends as it gives you the following benefits:

  1. You can constantly improve systems;
  2. Other people can be trained and can then do the work for you;
  3. Customers will get a consistent service;
  4. There may be the potential to replicate the business in the future.

If you need further proof that systems can make you money, just look at McDonalds restaurants. These are found the world over all producing the same quality product and service, employing low skilled staff and making very good profits. While we would not expect your business to be as systemised as that, most business we come across can systemise 80% of what they do and train the human element to take care of the other 20%.

The problem is that for most established business starting to write the systems is a daunting task. Where do you start and who should do it?

Well like most goals the best thing is to break it down into manageable chunks and choose the areas that are most used and can produce the best improvements. We normally find our clients start with the sales and debt collection processes. Then go through each stage of the business bit by bit and delegate as much as possible to those that are currently carrying out the work. We had one client who employed 3 students over the summer to come in and write their entire operations manual for them as part of their university degree, a real Win:Win.

The key to making systemisation work is to make sure your staff are properly educated and trained to use the systems and processes. Your team really is your best asset, and frankly they are the only way your business will truly work without you.

Some business owners tell us that they are scared that if they train their team that they may leave and take their skills somewhere else. Our response is that if they don’t train them they might stay!

In addition to people power, you should be looking to use whatever technology is available to make your systems more efficient, such as computerised Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, stock control, accounts, payroll, quoting, estimating etc. Don’t forget you are investing in the future, so always select a system that you can grow into otherwise you will limit your growth.

So stop thinking you are stuck in your business, and start leveraging yourself to the top.

If you would like to find out more about Systemising Your Business, then come along to our workshop Thursday 25th June, 15. Click here for more details or to register today.

How To Close More Sales


A critical success factor for all businesses is how good they are at selling.

Every business is selling something, a product and/or a service, but very few are actually trained in the art of selling.

Here are seven keys to selling to help you on the track to greater business success:

1. Ask More Questions:

Questions are the answers in sales. Too many sales people tell their customers the features and benefits of their product or service but never take the time to find out which of the benefits the customer is actually interested in. So, ask them to tell you what they want.

2. Set Daily Targets:

A common theme in sales- chase enough customers in the hope that one or more will buy. In reality this leads to sales people only selling to the early adopters or price shoppers who would probably buy from anyone. However by keeping track of how many customers buy on average from a given number of leads and then introducing strategies to convert a higher percentage will ensure your sales team learn how to improve their results. Set daily targets and assess your performance against these targets.

3. Use Sales Scripts:

No one likes to hear someone read from a script but customers do expect us to be consistent. So how do you ensure all your interactions with prospects are consistent and that you deal with objections in a professional way? By writing down what it is you say in any given situation and by training your team to use the same questions and language you can bring a lot more productivity to your sales process.

4. Offer / Guarantee:

Why should someone buy from you and not a competitor who can provide the same product or service at a lower price? What is it that you offer them or can guarantee them that will differentiate you from your competition? Your offer must generate excitement to get prospects to make a decision to buy now.

5. Ask For The Sale:

One of the biggest common failings in sales is not asking the prospect to buy. A fear of rejection, that the sale will be lost, prevents many sales people from actually asking the final question. Just do it and learn from those that say no so you can improve your conversion rate over time.

6. Learning:

To be successful in sales there absolutely must be a habit of learning. Learn from other sales experts, learn from books, learn from your best customers and learn from past experience. Both your good and bad experiences can be a huge help in improving your sales success. You must record these experiences and build your knowledge over time. Write it down so you do not keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again.

7. Testimonials:

We all need to be reminded of what we are doing right and why our best customers love dealing with us. Sometimes we focus too much on what is going wrong rather than what we are doing right. Focus on the good stuff and we will do more of it! Get your customers to write down their testimonials so you can use it in your marketing and attract even more great customers.

Here a example of a video testimonial we made at our last Business Planning Event.


If you would like to learn more about Sales and the How to close more sales then come along to our half day Sales Success workshop Thursday 30th April. Click here for more details and to register your place today.

ActionCLUB Email Signature Sales

How To Get Award Winning Results In Business

how to get award winning results in your business


Congratulations to all the finalists in the SFA Awards 2015. It is a great         acknowledgment of all your hard work and a fantastic opportunity to celebrate your achievements as a Small Business in Ireland and to recognise the vital contribution of the Small Business sector to the Irish economy.

Check out these fabulous results from our clients and programme participants:

ClevaMama, Co.Dublin

Finalists in the following categories:

  • Innovator of the year (up to 50 employees)
  • Small Business Exporter of the year (up to 50 employees)


  • Overall National Small Business of the year 2015
  • Innovator of the year 2015ClevaMama Overall National Small Business of the year 2015
Clubstohire, Co.Dublin

Finalists in the following categories:

  • Innovator of the year (up to 50 employees)
  • Small Business Exporter of the year (up to 50 employees)


  • Highly Commended in Small business exporter of the year
Eight Degrees Brewing, Co.Cork

Finalists in the following categories:

  • Manufacturing Category (up to 50 employees)
  • Food & Drink Category (up to 50 employees)


  • Highly commended in the Food and Drink Category. Eight Degrees Brewing, Highly commended in the Food and Drink Category.
Kevin Egan Cars

Finalist in the following Category:

  • Outstanding Small Business (up to five employees)

So how do you become an Award Winning Business like these companies?

The answer is simple really – you need plenty of focus which in turn leads to results in your business. Here are some top tips to help you achieve the award winning results in business :

  • Have a Strategic Plan which outlines your businesses Purpose, Values, Goals and Envisioned Future. This allows you to identify and put in place the correct management structure to bring the company forward.
  • Make sure you allow time to work ON your business rather than IN your business, focusing on key areas to develop in such as innovation, strategic alliances and planning.
  • Communication with your team is vital to ensure everyone on the team has the same vision for where the company is going and how it is going to get there.
  • Always be learning and make time for education and training for your team. As your business is growing and evolving your team should be to.
  • Have Systems in place for all areas of the business.  This ensure your business an run efficiently and effectively without you! An example of such a system would be a Sales Pipeline with specific targets, sales process, scripts, KPI’s and incentives.This will help the focus in the business and will achieve better results.

Best of luck growing your business and achieving brilliant results, we hope to see you on an award stage soon!

6 Great Ways to Increase Cashflow in Your Business Today

At ActionCOACH, we often refer to cashflow as the life-blood of your business. By managing the money that is coming into and out of your business well, you will keep your business alive and allow it to thrive. However, even the most profitable business ventures will fail if they run short of cash.

If you are experiencing cashflow problems you are certainly not alone. In fact, cashflow is one of the most cited reasons why more than half of Irish businesses fail in their first four years.

Here is just one example of how we helped one of our clients in the retail industry improve cashflow and increase sales in their business:

The Challenge:

Our client had a very profitable retail cash business but were constantly at the top of their overdraft and could not see a solution to their problem.

When we started to work with them, one of the first things that stood out for us when analysing the numbers, was the high level of stock held –this was the core of their problem.

This particular company held over €500k of cost price stock, their belief, as with most retailers, being that they needed to have stock in place just in case.

We conducted an inventory check and found that over €350k (70%) of the stock was on hand for over 12 months. Therefore the bulk of the businesses profit was tied up in stock,  and in reality 60% of this was now out of fashion and unlikely to sell at full price. 

We also identified, when reviewing their sales figures, that our client was purchasing stock that they felt people wanted as opposed to what people were actually buying. For example 27% of the value of stock was one particular type of product, however this product was only 11% of sales.

The Solution:

The key strategy employed was to put in place a new purchasing policy to identify their A/B products – those that sell and have the best margin, and stop ordering C/D products.

Purchasing was reviewed weekly as opposed to the previous ad hoc strategy of waiting for the salesman to call.

We also renegotiated credit terms with our suppliers from on average 45 days to 60 days, which gave us more time to sell the inventory and reduce our Cash Gap liability.

Finally, to reduce the amount of stock on hand, we also opened an Outlet Store at a nearby premises to sell on the stock that was on hand for more than 12 months.

Year on year, we helped our client to reduce the amount of stock on hand held at year end by 27%.  Their gross margin also increased by 11% from 56% to 62%. We also reduced the amount of days spent in overdraft from 198 to 76 days.

Our 6 key take-away’s from this case-study in order to help you to improve your cash-flow today are:

  1. Conduct regular stock-takes and review your purchasing on a weekly basis.
  2. Measure your best selling & highest margin products.
  3. Stop purchasing those ‘hard to shift’ products.
  4. Implement a strict purchasing policy.
  5. Reduce old stock and increase your cash-flow by having a stock clearance sale.
  6. Contact your suppliers to renegotiate your credit terms in order to give you more time to sell stock and reduce your cash gap liability.

If you would like any further information on how ActionCOACH Business Coaching can help you grow your business in the right direction get in touch on 01-891 6220 or email:

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