Meeting local need
As well as working together with your local authority, now is a good time to carry out your own market research to find out how you can best meet local need.
The term ‘market research’ can sound daunting, but it can simply mean talking to local parents and finding out about other childcare settings near you.
Think about the following:
- Who are your current and prospective customers? Are they going to change? Can you amend your offer to meet these changing customers?
- How have parents’ working patterns changed in your local area? Could you offer flexible hours? Many childminders offer core hours within 8am to 6.30pm, but with parents’ changing requirements, you might consider adapting your hours to suit both you and the families you work with.
- What would parents value the most right now from childcare settings? Is this flexibility? or maybe the option of additional ad-hoc services?
- How can you help parents to feel confident about the safety of childcare provision? How are you currently demonstrating this? Are there new ways you could showcase this to parents? We have some useful downloadable graphics for PACEY members in our Coronavirus spotlight.
- Who are your competitors and what are they currently offering? Look at other childcare settings in your area, are you able to be competitive with their offers?
- Are there long waiting lists at local nurseries, or are they struggling to fill spaces at the moment? This could be an opportunity to work with your local childcare services, to make sure children are able to access care and not stuck on long waiting lists.
- Is there a gap in out-of-school care provision? Is there more demand for this than early years provision? Could you offer both? If you’re offering both early years and out-of-school care, consider how to balance the two (as the rules for over 5s differ).
- Is there anything that you’re able to offer that would help you to stand out from the crowd (your unique selling point)? Do any parents need weekend or evening childcare? Would it work well to swap some of your working days or hours?
Market research is something we tend to think about when starting up a new business but, even if your childcare business has been established for many years, revisiting local demographics and exploring how parents feel about childcare provision will help you to understand the changing landscape of childcare.