From lockdowns and “cliffs” to robots and process automation, the world has changed a lot in a short amount of time. But for many in the ECE community, the last three years confirmed what we already knew: early childhood educators and professionals are a resilient bunch.
Of nearly 5,000 survey respondents, the majority of childcare operators say they have aggressive growth plans in 2024 and are looking to add multiple new locations, either through acquisition or new center development, despite a challenging economy and a sharp decline in financial support at the federal and state levels.
For the modern multi-center enterprise, this steadfast focus on growth also comes with a clear call to action: now is the time to put excellence at the forefront.
With the rising demand for quality care, there’s never been a better time to revolutionize the traditional approach to school operations and branding. For a profitable future in the face of rising talent costs and changing parent expectations, a strong brand experience is key. And it has to be consistent across each region, location, and team.
The 2024 ECE Benchmark Report shares survey insights from thousands of childcare professionals plus data from tens of thousands of teachers, family members, and administrative users of the LineLeader platform to guide you through best practices that can help you bridge the gap between your central and your location-based teams - and ultimately, harness the power of a unified and tech-enabled childcare experience. In this blog, we’re giving you a preview of the top takeaways.
Adopting Automation to Drive Productivity
Less paperwork, more meaningful connection
Despite the rapid adoption of automation, our research reveals that nearly a third of childcare teams are still spending one full day per week on manual processes, such as tuition processing, payroll, enrollment paperwork, and reporting on business performance.
Automation is business as usual, but there’s room for improvement in childcare.
Following the initial onset of the pandemic, 73% of organizations worldwide are now using automation technologies, up from 48% in 2019. But our research suggests that, for many childcare enterprises, automation still isn’t used to its full potential. Almost a third of the childcare teams surveyed could save a minimum of 7 hours per week through better and deeper automation.
Automation has many benefits, including:
1. Reducing operating costs
2. Growing the top line
3. Greater speed and velocity
4. Improved customer experience
5. Greater return on human capital
6. Improved process quality
Key areas for automation in the childcare enterprise
The majority of our survey respondents (56%) named hiring and retention as a continued challenge for 2024. This suggests that the real ROI on automation extends beyond hours saved to include critical key performance indicators (KPIs) such as improvements in staff turnover, employee engagement, and family experience.
However, research shows the majority of tech transformations don't achieve their desired goals.
To capture long-term ROI, business leaders must have a clear plan for securing buy-in for automation at both the corporate and center levels.
To find your organization’s tipping point with automation, start by using technology to streamline your processes in the following business areas:
- Marketing automation: Automated lead capture and follow up
- Invoicing & finance: Automated billing, payment reminders, and late fees
- Licensing compliance: Automated ratio management based on attendance tracking
- Parent engagement: Automated daily sheets and portfolios
Centralizing Enrollment for Faster Growth Across Multiple Centers
For more than half of childcare leaders, the ability to scale faster is key
For roughly 55% of childcare organizations, scaling rapidly is critical. Yet more than half of our respondents say they have multiple team members interacting with families at the start of their enrollment journey. This leads to fragmented information and often requires families to repeat the same information over again to multiple company representatives. To streamline your processes across different centers, teams, and personalities, start by centralizing your enrollment for an airtight system you can scale.
Improved standardization = improved experiences.
An excellent experience starts with a standardized process. But without a streamlined enrollment system, it can feel impossible to achieve.
56% of customers say they often have to repeat or re-explain information to multiple representatives within one organization.
A centralized team of enrollment specialists can help:
- Build your brand’s know-like-trust factor with families
- Make it faster and easier to implement new changes
- Allow you to simplify the way you track trends and forecast enrollment YoY
- Remove an administrative burden from your schools
- Result in greater enrollment success
Childcare staff meeting with parents
Inconsistent engagement can mean missed opportunities.
Each center and brand may have its own hours, locations, offerings, and programs. But the teachers and staff most familiar with these services often aren’t skilled at making a sale. With today’s parent demographics (Millennials and Gen Z) growing increasingly local in their purchasing decisions, childcare leaders must empower their enrollment teams with a deep understanding of each center.
One key way of doing that is by providing your teams with a centralized enrollment hub or dashboard that includes insights for each location like: hours of operation, classroom availability, tuition costs and other fees. With the right tool, teams should be able to provide inputs like a guardian’s home or work address and be able to make suggestions on which location is the best fit.
Fueling Better Decisions with Deeper Data Insights
In the modern childcare climate, ECE leaders are only as good as their data.
40% of business leaders say they want more help from technology to make informed strategic decisions that drive real revenue and ROI. But with many teams still spending more than 10 or more hours per week on reporting, leaders will require access to fast and accurate data reports to stay agile as they scale.
Better decisions at speed and scale.
With a wealth of technology comes a wealth of valuable data. And when employed correctly, enhanced decision-making and execution.
Childcare leaders who know how to access and apply their data are more likely to:
- Make decisions and act on them faster. Having the right data at hand enables organizations to swiftly evaluate risks, consider various options, and respond promptly.
- Reduce costs associated with decision-making. Utilizing existing data and information lessens the need for extensive research or deliberation to make a reliable decision.
- Make data-informed decisions. Getting a better knowledge of your customers and the market that’s grounded in facts can help you achieve better outcomes.
- Drive innovation. Identify emerging market demands and leverage innovative technologies to meet them.
As staff and family expectations continue to change and shift, success belongs to those who can identify and capture new opportunities at scale.
Data complexity increases with every new center.
Adding new locations to an organization often contributes to an increasing need for: a centralized data hub, improved system integrations, consistent data governance, and addressing scalability challenges associated with increased transactions. To mitigate these issues, organizations often implement centralized data management systems and begin or improve their automated reporting efforts.
By taking these steps, you can keep families engaged and interested in your organization, which will help boost re-enrollment rates and revenue year after year.
To get all of the key takeaways and dive deeper, watch the full webinar:
Delight families and empower your teams with a better childcare experience.
As we move forward into a world that demands innovation and forward-thinking, it's clear that traditional strategies are no longer enough.
Our Annual Benchmark Report reveals the importance of a streamlined and experience-driven approach to childcare, with a focus on growth for the modern multi-center enterprise.
Who is LineLeader?
LineLeader offers four core products: digital registration software, full-featured CRM software, a combined family engagement app and childcare management system, along with the Unified platform, which provides comprehensive visibility into every contact throughout various stages of their enrollment journey. This all-in-one solution is the first of its kind and facilitates tracking and management of the entire family journey, from initial inquiry to registration, to re-enrollment and beyond.
So, while each tool is powerful on its own, they truly innovate when used together, allowing dedicated staff to focus on what matters most - the children in their care.
Learn more about why the leading childcare brands choose LineLeader at www.lineleader.com.
Who is the Child Care Success Company?
The Child Care Success Company is dedicated to assisting leaders in early childhood education. Their flagship coaching program, the Child Care Success Academy, has helped numerous businesses elevate performance. They provide a wide range of educational materials and training, and are the hosts of the highly anticipated annual Child Care Success Summit™.
Discover more about their mission to help childcare leaders elevate enrollment and expansion.
Download your copy of the 2024 ECE Benchmark Report here.
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Download the benchmark report to expertly grow and manage your childcare business.
- Unlock 5 key takeaways to elevate your childcare experience.
- Today's staff and families are looking for a better experience: here's why.
- Deliver the ultimate childcare staff and family experience.
- Understand exactly who Millennial and Gen Z parents are.
- Get expert tips for boosting family and staff retention.
- Effortlessly fall (back) in love with your childcare business.