There is no doubt that it is a difficult time to have a childminding business given all the current challenges and demands that you face.  Below are some suggestions which may help you to sustain your business.

Promoting your Service

As a member of Childminding Ireland you have free adverting space to promote any vacancies you may have.  You can also choose to share your contact details with parents through the phone vacancy matching service available through our office.  You can also place your membership sticker, which you receive on renewal, in your car or in a prominent window in your home.  This year we have had Membership Certificates printed professionally and we plan to distribute frames for these at next year’s AGM to all attendees.  Remember to display any other certificates that are relevant to your childminding business.  These provide great reassurance to parents, who are ultimately your strongest form of advertising – word of mouth is still one of the most successful forms of promoting your service.

Building Sustainable Relationships with Parents

In order to ensure your working relationship with parents is long lasting, it is important that you are both clear about your expectations of each other from the start.  We would advise that you create your own contract with parents.  There is a sample contract included in your membership pack but you should customise this to suit your own needs.  You can use this document to control the “awkward” conversations around money, holidays etc.

You should have your own “terms and conditions” clear in your own head.  This is so important when it comes to negotiating with parents so that you don’t end up agreeing to something that really doesn’t suit you or your family life.  Remember to always take your time to think about any agreement or suggested changes to arrangements – use phrases such as “can I come back to you on that?” or “I will have to check that out”.

Regular communication is critical with parents and it gives an opportunity to flag any concerns that you have before they become issues.

Be Aware of your Costs 

One of the most important questions any business should ask itself is ‘Am I making a profit?’  Childminders tend not to focus on how much childminding actually costs them.  It is important to create the habit of logging or recording your costs weekly.  This is a particularly good idea as generally childminders are paid weekly so you can quickly establish if it is working for you financially.  Childminding Ireland has a tax calculator (excel spreadsheet formatted) available for members which is helpful as it allows you to record daily/weekly costs and income.

Invest Time in Training

Everything we learn is of value to us and those around us.  In being open to training opportunities, you will benefit in your professional and personal development and equally important, the children you mind will also benefit.  Training can increase self-confidence which is a real positive.  Whenever possible, avail of any training that you can manage – time wise or financially.  Given the tight margins that most childminders operate within, it is often difficult to partake in training. Childminding Ireland promotes any free training to members that we are aware of. Tusla has developed a free universal e-learning training programme called ‘Introduction to Children First’ http://childrenfirstuniversal.hseland.ie/ In order to support members attending First Aid training, Childminding Ireland run Paediatric First Aid for Childminders throughout the country and are working to ensure to keep costs to a minimum.