One of the bigger challenges facing my successful child care clients is how to expand. Their first center is rocking and rolling, enrollment is at capacity, and they have systems in place. The next big questions is how to expand to get your purpose out in a bigger way, while also scaling up and being more profitable.
One big question to take into consideration when expanding your child care center is site selection. Where will be the best place to open up another center?
There are 3 key elements to consider when trying to find that sweet spot to optimize your growth.
1. Understand supply vs. demand in your area. This includes understanding every different flavor of child care around; Montessori, home daycare, church daycare, etc. Study and map it out. Get a physical map of your town, city or region and get a list of all operating child care facilities. You can typically get a list like this from your child care resource and referral agency. If not you can always use Google. Map out your entire region and understand where there are existing schools, especially ones that are really similar to you, and where there are pockets of opportunity.
2. Dig in and research the strong competition in the different markets. Who is full? Who is struggling? Where are they located? If there are many struggling centers in one particular area then it is probably over saturated and not a fruitful opportunity. You can mystery shop centers to figure out how much space they have, either on your own or by hiring out someone else or an agency to help. Simply ask how many kids they can take and how many they have right now, which is a fairly normal question a parent might ask. Do that with as many schools as you can to understand how your competition is doing in the extra pockets of opportunity.
3. The third factor to consider is distance. Where is your current school and where do you live? How will the distance of your new center impact your life and the time you spend with your family? Is it five minutes from your school or an hour away? You want to be far enough away that you don’t cannibalize your existing clientele ( at least 8-20 miles away) but not so far away that it makes for a very long commute for you.
You will also want to hire a good commercial real estate broker and potentially a business broker that knows the industry well. They can help you look for sites you can lease, along with spots you can build on (the pros and cons of each will be the topic of my next video). They will help show you all the different possibilities in all the different markets and they will have access to two tools that can help you with your research: Caliper Maptitude and Sites USA. Having a commercial real estate broker that has access to those tools and knows how to use them will be a huge shortcut for you. There will be a few industry-specific vendors that specialize in child care and site selection at the Child Care Success Summit.