If You Build It They Will Come
Just like any business, there is basically one central event that will mean the difference between success or failure in starting your own customers. It isn’t a difficult issue to figure out either. You have to find customers. And for you, customers are parents who need a quality day care that they feel they can trust to put their children in as they go off to work. The title we chose for this article is a famous quote from field of dreams where the voice tells Kevin Costner to build a baseball field for ghosts to play on with the encouragement, ‘If you build it, they will come.” While that is an inspirational line, you need more than that before you take the plunge of building a day care center.
Starting a business is costly. Before you collect a dime of income from parents, you have to set up your day care center, pay licensing fees, hire workers, buy supplies and invest in many other ways so that when the doors of your day care open, it is a happy, professional and welcoming place that children will want to be in and that parents will want to use for their day care.
Many times to secure the funds to build a day care, you get a small business loan. And any bank or financial institution that is going to fund you is going to require that you can demonstrate that you can find customers and that you have a real and identified market to serve when you open your business. So not only do you have to know that “they will come”, you have to know who your customers are and that they are eager to use what you have to offer.
The single most sure fire way to be able to know for a fact that you are building a day care business that is going to be a success is to already have your core customer base identified. So doing that market research must be in the top five of activities you do not after you have opened but before you even decide to go for it and build your day care. Market research is a fancy business term for identifying your customers and validating that they are there and need your services. One way to verify this is to produce a study that shows that there are a high concentration of homes with two working parents in the geographical area where you will place your day care and that there is a low concentration of day cares serving the needs of those parents. That is solid market research.
Another way to approach documenting the market for your new day care is through a population study of existing day cares. Most day cares have a limit to the amount of children they can legally accommodate. If you already know where geographically you are going to open your day care, you can do a thorough study of the day cares in your area and then interview them to see how full they are. An even more telling statistic would be how many of those day cares are at capacity and are turning away children because they cannot accept any more. If that is a common occurrence in local day cares, then there is a market need for one more facility and that one can be yours.
But probably the most sure fire way to identify your customer base it through networking with other parents about the need for a new kind of day care. If you have your children in a day care, you can easily find ways to socialize with the other parents. There may be a lot of dissatisfaction with a day care because of the way it is run, because of the attitude of the workers, because of cleanliness or safety issues or because of overcrowding. By networking, you can develop a list of parents who will commit to bring their children to your day care when it opens. And that list is the most convincing market research there is it because those commitments who for certain that if you build your new day care, they will come.