a team effectiveness model and achieving goals effectively as a team and being a good team member
Team Steps to Success
Skills for running and sustaining your childcare business
Managing your childcare business
ChildcareWelcome to ‘Team Steps to Success’
’Team steps to success’ is a series of guides, which are aimed at improving the sustainability of all
forms of childcare businesses.
- The ability of a
childcare provider to
The guides are primarily for ’Team Managed’ childcare settings, but they might also be useful for
continually maintain its
Team managed childcare settings range from privately owned settings to ones which are run by a
voluntary management committee.
- A team managed business
is one which employs more
than one person and is
About the guides
generally managed by a
The guides contained within the ’Team Steps to Success’ series are useful for all childcare settings
team of people, such as a
whether they are:
nursery, playgroup or out of
• Privately owned or voluntary managed
• Profit making or ‘not for profit’ groups
• Charities, cooperative organisations, private companies, social enterprises, maintained childcare
settings or any other form of childcare business
Did you know?
As you would expect these guides contain many references to business concepts, words and phrases,
The word ‘profit’
in particular the words ‘profit’ and ‘surplus’.
originates from the Latin
word ‘profectus’ and the
However, it’s important to note that the guides are not just about making a profit in a private sector
old French word
environment, far from it
‘proficere’ meaning to
They actually refer to good business practices, which will enable your childcare setting to remain
sustainable, whether or not you choose to invest all your surpluses back into providing a better
Consider the following
All group childcare settings have the following in common:
• Parents pay for a childcare service
• Staff are employed
• Premises are rented or owned
• Costs are incurred
Whether your childcare group is profit making or not, it’s essential that all costs are
covered and some surpluses are generated to keep the provision sustainable for the
These guides can help your organisation begin to do that.
What kind of childcare settings are these guides designed for?…
• Out of school groups
• Holiday play schemes
• Breakfast clubs
• Pre-school groups
to name but a few
02How to use this guide
Team Steps to Success is a series of four guides and a foundation module, that are aimed at ’team managed’ childcare businesses. The four
guides cover the key business issues, drawing on best practice in business support. They build on the ’foundation’ module, ’Planning for
business success’, which is designed to be used as a reference point as it contains the practical planning techniques for applying the concepts
covered in this guide.
This guide begins with ideas on how you can
successfully work as a management team or
Planning for business success committee and then progresses to examine;
Planning is the foundation of the • What information you need and where it
Business Success for Childcare guides comes from
and this module defines the key Marketing • What are the most important things to
principles of business planning. The measure and control to ensure business
module is designed to be read first, 1 success
as it shows how you can plan and • How you can use your business policies
implement ideas and concepts and processes to help you manage your
contained in this guide. business
This logical approach can help to simplify
your business management and
Steps to success Steps to success
emphasise key points. emphasise key points.
Throughout this guide there are information and action points labelled ’Steps to Success’.
These items are particularly important because they aim to prompt your thinking. There
Stepping stones point Stepping stones point
are also a number of ’Stepping Stones’ that will direct you towards useful sources of
you in the direction of you in the direction of
guidance and advice. There is a useful summary ’Stepping Stone’ at the end of this
additional help additional help
guide. The guide also contains a number of practical aids and simple exercises to help
you plan and prepare for the future. To get the best from the guide, complete these as
you come across them.
‘Managing your childcare business’
Managing a childcare business requires a whole range of skills and expertise. It’s always
difficult to find a balance between providing a quality childcare service and ensuring that
the business activities are looked after too
This guide will focus on some of the techniques that will assist supervisors and the
management team to instil quality not only in the childcare they offer, but also in their
Take a moment to think about the following:
In your childcare setting, if you have:
Good quality childcare, but poor business activities
Good business activities, but poor quality childcare
Both can lead to failure
To achieve long-term sustainability it’s essential to have good quality in your childcare
and good quality in your business activities.
In the childcare sector this includes communicating with parents, managing employees,
caring for children, handling administration and making sure that the business generates
sufficient income to cover costs and make a surplus. This is the only way to secure the
future of the business.
This guide will help management teams and staff to get the balance right.
04 The management role
The management role
’A team managed business is one which has a clear management structure with
management duties being performed by several team members’.
The management of a childcare business is usually shared by several people involved in
the management team, but one person will usually take overall responsibility for the
business. In the case of a private company this would be the managing director and for a
childcare business run by a voluntary management committee, this would be the
Whether the childcare provision is private, voluntary, a social enterprise or maintained by
Local Authorities the principles of management contained within this guide are equally
This guide covers the following:
• Managing as a team • Planning for business success
- Committee management - A summary of how to plan and
- Settings managed by other means implement ideas developed in this
• Management information
- Where to find it and how to use it • Stepping stone
• Business policies and processes • Template - Management information
- How they help make management easier
06 The management role
Managing as a team
Committee managed settings
A management committee, together with employees and volunteers, plays a vital role in
running many organisations. Sometimes because committee members are not present in
the setting regularly, they don’t meet with supervisors to discuss the business each day.
Therefore they’re unable to see the business information regularly and this can lead to
In a business that has a management team working on the premises and in daily contact
with supervisors and employees, it's easier to maintain the flow of important daily
information. This allows managers to make decisions rapidly, to respond to the latest
situation and help the business remain sustainable. The essential point here is that
because they can access updated information frequently, they have the maximum
amount of time to solve problems before they can contribute to business failure.
A committee run childcare business doesn't have this luxury, so the following section
suggests ways to get closer to a well managed business.
There’s a critical need for committee members to have regular detailed information about
the business. This allows them to manage and make decisions effectively, based on facts.
It's the shared responsibility of both the committee members and the staff to
Committe Committee members, e members,
communicate and manage information to ensure business success.
supervisors and staff supervisors and staff
To do this:
should work together so should work together so
• Committee members and staff should be aware of what's expected from them and
that all remain that all remain
what their key responsibilities are with regard to collection, presentation and
informed about the informed about the
analysis of business performance information. For example…
setting and its setting and its
- Who is responsible for analysing past and future occupancy levels and who
we weekly prog ekly prog ress ress
collates that information?
- Who collates the cash flow forecast and who analyses it and makes decisions
based on the cash situation?
08• An up-to-date information pack should be supplied to all new committee members
on their appointment. This could contain a brief history of the business together
For a go For a good example of od example of
with a summary of the business plan and regular reporting documents.
how to ke how to keep information ep information
• The supervisor should send weekly business updates of key information to the
about your setting up about your setting up
committee and not wait for the next committee meeting, so that problems can be
to date visit: to date visit:
seen regularly and action taken immediately.
www.sur www.surestart.gov estart.gov.uk/ .uk/
• Regular full committee meetings should be held at which the supervisor should be
support4business support4business and and
present. A formal agenda should be used based on the important business
search for the ‘Red’ search for the ‘Red’
information. At the conclusion of the meeting clear actions should be delegated.
bo book. It’s fre ok. It’s free and e and
provides a g provides a g reat reat • The businesses finances should always be open to all, visible and easily understood.
system for ke system for keeping eping
• Committee members should have access to all major policies and key information
everyone in the picture. everyone in the picture.
Committees are a vital part of many organisations, especially those in the voluntary or
community sector. Day-to-day communications between committee members may be
time consuming and difficult to organise, but implementing the above points can be of
great benefit to the service provided to children.
09Settings managed by other means
If you run a childcare business that is operated as a partnership, cooperative or limited
company then it’s likely that the management team will be working within the setting.
This means that they have more regular access to information and more frequent
discussions about the business. The advantages are that managers are able to make
decisions and take action rapidly.
The exact same principles apply to childcare settings which are not committee run, they
need regular detailed information about the business to ensure things go to plan.
Management and staff should be aware of what’s expected from them and what their
key responsibilities are with regard to collection, presentation and analysis of business
The following sections of this guide will help to define and set up a management
information system which helps managers and staff take control of their childcare service.
10 Management information
The guide has described how it is vital for the management team to have access to
business information, so…
Where can you find it and how do you use it?
Having good administration and information systems can help your business function
Consider the following thought…
“What gets measured, gets done”
This simple concept outlines the fact that in any childcare business, careful selection and
measurement of the most important information will offer the management team a
chance to anticipate any possible problems. It allows the management team to make
improvements to the childcare service and steer it in the right direction.
Many businesses don't have an efficient system for managing information and don't
appreciate how valuable the process of gathering and regularly analysing key information
can be in ensuring business success.
“What effect would there be if no one in a childcare business was responsible for
checking the cash flow regularly?”
The effect could be that the business fails because of a lack of money
12’What if no one was looking ahead to see when children were leaving and measuring
It's possible that the setting may not do enough advertising to attract sufficient children
for the future to cover all its costs, and therefore, could go out of business A well defined
and timely management information system will ensure this doesn’t happen.
A basic four part process can help you manage your information - remember to keep it
A management information system:
• Define - not all information is critical
to business success. It's necessary to
identify which information is important
to keep and why
Collect • Collect - a regular system for collecting
and presenting information is required
• Analyse - regular analysis of
information is required to ensure the
business remains healthy
• Take action - act on the information
promptly. Keep your childcare business
sustainable by taking action when the
information you analyse shows that
things aren’t going to plan
13 Management information
Defining your information
What information does your childcare business need to operate
This is a question that as a management team you need to consider very carefully and
decide which aspects of the business you need to control through regular information
The examples below illustrate some of the ways that business information can be used:
What's the information used for?
Looking at the past, current and future expected occupancy will tell you:
• Whether you've enough children planning to attend to cover costs (does expected
occupancy cover the breakeven number?)
• Times in the year, month, week, day when occupancy is low
• Trends in the usage of the childcare facility
• Which days / times are the least popular
Where’s the information likely to be?
• Your registers will show attendances and the occupancy at which sessions and
• Your record of payments will detail how much you’re earning in fee income from
the occupancy profile your business has
• Your cash flow forecast should have a line in it which forecasts expected revenues
from future occupancy
14This information allows you to plan for times of low attendance, so that you can take
action to avoid making a loss. If you present this information on a simple graph it may
show trends that you weren’t aware of.
Cash flow forecast
What’s the use of this information?
• If you have a weekly cash flow forecast you're always in control of the money
coming in and going out of your business
• Whether you always have enough money at any time to pay bills and costs like
• It will show whether you've times when cash isn't available and a bank overdraft
may be needed
• When large bills are required to be paid and whether you can afford to pay them on
the due date
Generally speaking, cash flow forecasts allow you to look ahead so you can make sure
that you always have cash available. If you've forecast a cash deficit in a particular week
or month, then looking ahead allows you to take action before it happens.
15 Management information
Where’s the information likely to be?
• Information on costs comes from knowing what your normal outgoings are
• You’ll know from your bills when they’re due for payment
• Your forecast occupancy tells you when and how many children attend and
therefore you can work out how much that is each week
• You know from staff rotas when they’ll be needed to meet occupancy and therefore
you can calculate and forecast wages each week
Money owed to your business
What’s the use of this information?
• Having details of the money owed to you in fees is very important. Regular review
will ensure that the fees owed don't turn into business losses
• It can help you see when parents are having difficulties and you may be able to
Where’s the information likely to be?
• A list of outstanding invoices will show this
• You may have a system whereby the register is signed when payment is made, so
unsigned entries show non-payment
What’s the use of this information?
• The budget will detail all items of income and expenditure enabling you to view a
summary of all business transactions to date
• The budget is cumulative so it gives you an instant view of the balance at the end of
each month, showing if the business is in control financially
Where’s the information likely to be?
• Information will come from your cash book
16Collecting your information
How and when should information about the business be collected?
Collecting information should be an ongoing process. Consider the register. This is
something that's filled in everyday and it provides comprehensive information about the
number of children attending, when they attend and for how long. At any point one of
the management team could take the register and collect important information about
occupancy, attendance, fees owed, etc.
Each business needs to set information collection systems in place that enable the
analysis to be performed.
Who should collect the information?
This poses an interesting question, especially for childcare businesses run by management
committees. As explained earlier, because management committee members aren't
working in the childcare setting every day they’re unable to review or collect information
daily. Therefore, it's important to make someone responsible for collecting the
information and presenting it to the management committee. This is usually the
supervisor, although in practice it could be any team member. For childcare businesses
which are not run by a committee, it will usually be either the manager or supervisor
collecting information. But as long as everyone knows what they are responsible for, it
could be anyone in your team collecting information.
17 Management information
Analysing your information and taking action
The management team will have defined the critical information that they need to
review regularly in order to take control of the business; they’ll also have to decide who
then reviews the information and makes decisions about the business.
In general it makes sense for the treasurer to review financial information like:
- The budget spending to date
- The cash flow forecast
- The cash book
- The bank statement
Someone else might be responsible for looking at future forecast occupancy and making
decisions about advertising and attracting new parents and children. It may be the
supervisor's job to work closely with parents when payments are overdue.
All the information that your childcare business requires to make decisions and stay
competitive needs to be reviewed regularly by a nominated person. This ensures that
there are clear responsibilities as to who should be taking action and when.
An important point is that it's not necessary to wait for the next management committee
or team meeting to provide information. It should be collected and presented for review
to the appropriate person every week in a simple format. This is critical because
reviewing and taking action early prevents failure.
18A point to consider…
‘Could your childcare business get into difficulties in the time between each
management committee or team meeting?’
‘Don’t wait to find out. Take action when required.’
The simple four part management information process discussed earlier can assist your
management team to take control. Before moving on, why not attempt to define the
business information that will help you to stay in control?
There is an example over the page and a blank template contained at the back of the
19 Policies and processes
policies and processes
In every childcare business it’s important to set policies which describe the framework of
your business operation. It’s a requirement of the Ofsted registration process that records,
policies and procedures are in place to ensure the effective and safe management of the
Ke Keep your policies ep your policies
setting, which leads to the welfare and care of children.
simple and make sure simple and make sure
they have a real they have a real
This section does not attempt to address the Ofsted requirements. It is designed to
look at several policies and procedures which help childcare settings function more
effectively in their business operations.
Producing and communicating appropriate policies can help your business in many ways.
Visit the Ofsted Visit the Ofsted
Thinking about the way in which you want the business to operate can be detailed in
website at website at
your policies, so that important business systems can be communicated easily.
www.ofs www.ofsted.gov ted.gov.uk/ .uk/
childcare childcare for further for further
A policy is a statement of how the business treats certain issues
advice and guidance. advice and guidance.
A process defines the way your business actually implements that policy
Processes describe the actions that need to be taken to implement policies. Generally
processes are quite straight forward, but it's useful for new employees and committee
members to see a well-defined process to help them to understand the regular
operations of the business.
22To be of use, a process must contain a series of steps and instructions. For example, it
wouldn't be enough to simply say your policy is to recover any debts from parents, you
need a considered process to manage such a difficult and sensitive issue.
Here are two examples of policies and their processes:
A suggested process for dealing with the late collection of children could be:
Policy: To always provide staff cover for late collection of children and charge for the
Process: To define how the late collection of children will be handled.
Date: 21st May 2003
• If a parent or guardian is late collecting their children, staff will always be available
to supervise children until they’re collected.
• If a parent or guardian doesn’t contact the club to advise of the late collection of
their children, then the parent or named emergency contact will be telephoned
after half an hour and asked to make arrangements to collect the child.
• Two members of staff will remain with the child until the parent arrives.
• Late collection charges are detailed below and will be made in the case of late
collection to cover staff costs and overtime.
Up to ½ hour late: £4
Up to 1 hour late: £8
Over 1 hour late: £15
23 Policies and processes
A suggested process for recovering fees owed could be:
Policy: The company will always try to recover late payment, but will give the parents /
guardian every opportunity to pay for the childcare service as flexibly as possible.
Process: To define how late payment recovery will be handled.
Date: 21st May 2003
Use policies to help you Use policies to help you
• When fees are owing for more than two weeks the treasurer must be notified with
manage difficult manage difficult
full details of fees due.
situations. If, for situations. If, for
The treasurer immediately contacts the parent in private and asks when they intend
example, a parent example, a parent
to pay and establishes if there are any difficulties with payment, in general terms.
owes money in fe owes money in fees es
• A period of one week from the contact is allowed for payment, or a re-arranged
you can use the you can use the
payment agreement is established with the parent.
policy as a reason for policy as a reason for
asking for the money, asking for the money,
• If the parents fail to pay by the due date or method agreed, they are contacted in
which means you can which means you can
private again and asked for payment.
present it as a present it as a
• If they have no intention of paying then they receive a letter from the management
’company policy ’company policy’ and ’ and
team informing them that their child's place will be withdrawn, within five days of
not your personal view. not your personal view.
the date of the letter, if payment isn't made.
• Any outstanding monies owed by the parents may be recovered through legal
action, subject to a review of the circumstances and the decision of the