Mike Garatoni of Growing Kids Learning Centers in Indiana joins the show to talk about scaling up, growing, and advice for schools of any size to grow and expand even more. He and his wife Beth found high-quality care quite limited as parents themselves and knew they wanted to help be part of the solution. Mike and Kris talk about the importance of starting from the end goal and working back, delegation, how he empowers his directors, and challenges they faced in the early scale-up phases. They also talk about simple tweaks that have made a huge difference and what we can expect from Mike and Growing Kids in the future.
Key Takeaways From This Podcast:
Mike and his wife Beth started with one Growing Kids Center that was a franchise, and have since developed nine schools with a total capacity of 1,750 children and 350 staff. They are also very busy with their own six kids ranging in age from 25 to 11, and four dogs!
Start with the end game in mind, and work your way backward from there. When you define clearly what it is you want, you can work from there and make sure you aren’t wasting your own time and energy with what does not serve you.
A major key to success is systems thinking and delegation. It is important to set a procedure and structure in place so other people can do it, and do it correctly. Leaders also can’t fall prey to thinking they are the only one in a certain role that is able to do the job correctly.
Most owners don’t hire the right director and have to restaff this pivotal role often, wasting time and energy. Mike describes how at Growing Kids they distribute the workflow so it doesn’t all fall on the director. This also empowers people in other roles to make decisions.
The hardest point is starting up a center and going from one up to two and three. Once three centers are in place, adding more is almost just a juggling act that does become easier with time when the right systems and people are in place, and the team is aware of the values.
It’s important to fully know your radius when picking a location. This will determine your marketing, the messages in that marketing, and how far you plan on trying to reach.
Once you hit two or three centers, you may want to hire an enrollment coordinator. This “call center” can be one person in charge of calling the leads back and making sure time is spent doing the proper follow up at the most effective times.
Take some time and be deliberate in planning. Make a plan and take the time to evaluate it throughout the year with your team to make sure everyone is on track.