SMART IQ Magazine Issue 2

Page 1


• Why We Created Smartcare University • 5 Budget Improving Basics • Working Smarter

How to Make Your Center Run Smoother 1

Investing in Childcare Center Staff: Why We Created Smartcare University Throughout my career, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting thousands of educators and leaders like you. I know them to be inspiring, tireless, and totally committed to fostering our next generation of learners. I recently sat down with a national leader in early education. The educator challenged the Smartcare team to provide more content to childcare centers on the “why” behind topics like marketing, compliance, and reporting. She suggested one of the most important things we could do is support the overall business acumen of childcare leaders.

This is a mission I enthusiastically support. I’m happy to introduce Smartcare University, where business, high-quality childcare, and early learning connect—at no cost. We invite you to take a minute to join us as we work tirelessly to support you on the business side of education.

Matt Knapp CEO


Inside Marketing Tip: Setting Your Childcare Center Apart From the Rest by Using Technology ...........................5 5 Budget Improving Basics ...........................6 Employee Spotlight . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Marketing Tip: Keeping Track of Leads Has Never Been Easier . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Smart Clients . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 (844) SMARTER © 2018 Smatcare


Ways to Make Your Center Run Smoother While most preschools and daycares aren’t in the business of making sales, there’s one sales principle that can greatly enhance how you serve your families.


The principle is to remove as many obstacles as you can from receiving payment. Any obstacle your parents experience in making payments can dissuade them from following through and delay their payment. This is where Smartcare really delivers for your center. In fact, the following new features in our software will help you make payments and document management so much easier for you and your families. First, we’ve made it easy to download receipts for parents. Along with that, our software makes it easy to process refunds and cancel payments. While these features come in after payment, there’s no concern from parents that they won’t have a record of their payment. And they know that if there’s ever an overpayment or need for a refund or cancellation, you’re fully capable of handling those concerns quickly and easy. Your ability to serve your parents takes all the fear of making a payment out of the equation. One of the great features of the refund/cancel payment ability in our software is that it can handle credit cards, ACH payments, cash, checks, and even money order transactions. You’re prepared for any type of funding your parents decide to use. This overcomes a major obstacle for your parents. But great service goes beyond handling payments.


The Personal Touch

Evaluating Your Marketing

There’s the personal touch as well. Our software allows you to add notes to children, family, and employee accounts. So when the time comes to talk to the people you engage with every day, you won’t forget any of the major points you need to discuss. These notes also can help you make sure you’re not missing any instructions for a child, including naps, feeding schedules or allergies, pick up times, etc.

As you advertise your center, leads will come that you want to follow up on and keep in touch with. A new feature in our Smartcare will allow your center to keep up with every lead you develop. It gives you the ability to create reports to evaluate how you’re doing in converting leads into customers. This feature is completely customizable, so you can make it work even better for your needs.


Setting Your Childcare Center Apart From the Rest by Using Technology If you want to set your childcare center apart from the rest, integrating technology into your facility is a must. It’s a highly effective childcare marketing strategy. Offering an app and childcare software like Smartcare for communication, reporting, and news updates gives your

Handling Conditional Payments

Learn How to Use These Features

One of the many headaches for center directors is handling conditional payments. These include payments for early drop off fees, late pick up fees, and late payment fees. These are important fees that help your center run smoothly. But they can generate tense moments with parents. So automating these fees can help you avoid those moments by handling the fees for you.

Now that you know ways to make your center run more efficiently with these new features, all you have to do is implement them. And we’re here to help you do just that. In addition to our great customer service agents, our sales engineers, and our support staff, we’ve made a video to walk you through the easy steps needed to use each of these features. To view this video or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call us at 1-844-SMARTER or email us at

childcare center a distinct advantage.

Giving parents the opportunity to know what’s happening when they’re away gives them peace of mind, and could be the reason they choose to enroll at your center instead of a competitor.

For more on how to use Smartcare to keep track of your leads and their status, visit videos/ for detailed how-to videos.


Five Budget Improving Basics



Creating an accurate monthly budget is important to every childcare center. While spending detailed time reviewing your financial statements and building a detailed budget is important, many busy center owners and directors can benefit from five easy to calculate metrics that will help improve profitability while maintaining quality of care and education. 1. Revenue Per Child Perhaps the most important metric overall is that generally the more revenue you generate per child, the better. Why? Because more money per child translates into the ability to pay for more staff and program features without reducing profitability. Calculate this metric by dividing your total revenue for the month by the number of children enrolled at the beginning of the month. Here are some tips to improve revenue per child:

1) Secret shop your competition: Ask a friend or relative who has a child to contact your competition to see what they are charging. If you find that your fees are lower

price compared to your competitors, chances are your parents will quickly get over the initial dissatisfaction of price increase, and your center will be better off for it.

for comparable service, consider increasing your fees.

3) Look for additional subsidy

2 ) You may be nervous to

Childcare Resource and Referral

increase your prices because your parents will be unhappy, and that’s understandable. But if

options: contact your local (CCR&R) agency to determine if you can take advantage of additional subsidy programs for children.

you provide quality service at a fair

Use Smartcare to Monitor Income Ratios: View enrollment data reports, monitor your projected debt-to-income ratio, automate billing and view complete accounting ledgers, add/alter/discount/split child tuition plans. Complete staff schedules and view individual timesheets, integrate your CRM and other marketing efforts, and more. Manage your business without manually entering and tracking the information.


2. Teacher Expense Per Child The number of teacher hours per enrolled child is the primary predictor of profitability because labor expense is the primary expense of most childcare centers. Calculate this metric by dividing the total payroll by the number of enrolled children at the beginning of the month. Here are some tips to improve teacher expense per child:

1 ) Identify overtime: if you have overtime, see if you can prevent future overtime by managing schedules so that teachers generally don’t incur overtime. 2) Identify over-scheduling: compare the scheduled ratio of students to teachers by class to the legal ratio. If you find that you have more teachers than are necessary, cut back hours during those periods.

Smartcare Staff to Child Ratios Increase hands-on experience with children Track and manage staff-to-child ratios to make sure each child is receiving the care he/she needs most With an intimate staff-to-student ratio, providers can focus more on each child to maximize his/her experience at the center so all children can get the most out of their experience.

3. Utilization Like teacher expense per child, utilization is a predictor of profitability. Why? Because it tells you how efficiently you are using your fixed costs, meaning your facility, but also the teachers you already have scheduled. To calculate utilization, divide the number of children enrolled by the maximum class size, by class. Identify classes that have less than 90% utilization. Here are some tips to improve:


1) Focus your marketing efforts on your classes with the lowest utilization. 2) If you have a waiting list for some, but not all programs, consider shifting your classes to accept everyone on your waiting list.

Why use six different software programs and apps to run your childcare center when you could have an all-in-one solution? Smartcare is the streamlined way to manage your childcare business. Schedule a demo today and receive exclusive summer savings!

Smartcare Real-Time Reporting Cut the work out of aggregating, measuring, and analyzing data for enrollment, payments and accounts receivable, staff salaries, third-party payments, and company spending. With Enterprise Reporting, the reporting abilities for directors are not limited to the above! You can add and remove reporting widgets on your dashboard that speak directly to the information you care about the most.


4. Child Retention The easiest way to have consistent revenue is to keep the children you already have. Obviously, kids get older and move to other schools or programs, but retaining existing children is important. Calculate this metric by dividing the number of children who started and ended the month by the number of children you had at the beginning of the month. If that number is below 98%, you probably have some room for improvement. Here are some tips to improve: 1) Survey parents who disenroll their children and ask why they made their decision. Based on those reasons, you will probably be able to make improvements such as replacing an underperforming teacher or upgrading facilities.


2) Evaluate long term trends in your local market: did a major employer reduce its workforce, or have housing prices increased significantly, making it harder for families to live nearby? If so, you may have what is known as a “structural problem,” meaning a factor that reduces your retention that you can’t control. If this is the case, you may want to consider downsizing or relocating your center to an area more suited to growth.

Childcare Center Marketing 101

According to Forbes, the number of childcare centers has more than tripled in the U.S. since the late 80s—so a dynamic marketing strategy is a must if you want to stand out among competitors. This handy guide will cut out any confusion about marketing and help you grow your center!

Access Our Marketing 101 Guide How to Increase Enrollment and Keep Parents Happy So much falls on your shoulders as the director of a childcare center. We want to give you one less thing to worry about. Start improving your marketing strategies with this complimentary guide today!

Manage Accounts Receivable with the Smartcare App for Directors Update child location, attendance, billing, birthdays, and history in real-time; manage accounts receivable and employee salaries; and customize the app for multiple building locations Smartcare helps you make sense of your dollars and cents without taking time away from childcare.

5. Cost of Customer Acquisition This metric is directly related to retention. If you have low retention and high acquisition costs, then that means you are paying a lot of money to replace children who are leaving you quickly, and that’s bad for business.

cost of acquisition by channel by dividing the total expense by the total number of new children enrolled. Consider reducing or eliminating the channels that are more than four times revenue per child.

Having addressed retention, your next goal should be to look at cost of acquisition. To calculate cost of acquisition, divide all of your marketing expense by the number of new children enrolled in the period.

2) If your number is lower than four times, that’s actually good news, but it means you have some work to do. You should

As a rule of thumb, you want that number of to be lower than four times the revenue per child you calculated earlier. 1) If your number is higher than four, track how each new enrolled child first heard

consider increasing marketing spending especially if you have low Utilization as discussed earlier. Continue increasing until the cost of acquisition equals about four times revenue per child. This is the point of “diminishing returns,” and hopefully coincides with increased utilization.

about you. This is known as a “channel.” Then calculate the


EMPLOYEE SPOTLIGHT Michelle Lackey Enterprise Sales Engineer at Smartcare Taking care of children requires a lot more than childcare. It requires running a business, taking care of the facilities, and making sure the parents are completely satisfied. All of these are interrelated, to some degree, and it’s tough to do it all by yourself. Fortunately, Michelle Lackey has made it her personal goal to help you excel in all of these areas. Michelle is an Enterprise Sales Engineer at

she served as the executive director of a national

Smartcare. As a software engineer, she knows

franchise for 15 years in Texas.

all the ins and outs of the Smartcare software. While this sounds complex, it really gives Michelle

Michelle explains how this gives her the unique

an incredible ability to help your center identify

ability to help her clients: “Having been an

opportunities within the software to significantly

executive director for 15 years, I can empathize

enhance your center. For instance, she “loves

with the daily struggles and challenges of owners,

to help centers establish best practices that

directors, and school staff. I can help early

increase efficiency and improve parent satisfaction,

childcare organizations identify opportunities that

engagement, and communication.”

establish the road map for implementing best practices along the way.”

I can help early childcare organizations identify opportunities that establish the roadmap for implementing best practices along the way.

So when she has daily interaction with customers, whether it’s through an email exchange, phone conversation, a screen share, at a conference, or onsite at their office, she can quickly understand how to help. Because Smartcare delivers an all-in-one platform, along with outstanding customer service,


But Michelle’s expertise goes much deeper than

customers are excited to have Michelle available

just an enterprise sales engineer. She has the

to help them experience all that Smartcare

added advantage of being able to see the business

has to offer. And her business experience and

from the executive’s perspective. Prior to joining

software knowledge contributes to Smartcare’s

Smartcare in the Spring of 2017, Michelle gained

ability to always be improving and evolving to

experience with other EdTech companies after

meet the needs of customers. Her background,

MARKETING TIP determination, team spirit, and

the software for a while, Michelle

work ethic help make Smartcare

is still there to make sure you’re

better. But her abilities also

getting everything Smartcare has

make your center better.

to offer your center. By talking to Michelle, you might very well

Michelle knows that the

uncover hidden gems within

challenge with bringing in a new

the software that you may have

software system is CHANGE. The

overlooked. Or maybe there’s

biggest challenge organizations

something Smartcare can do for

and schools face is the task of

your business that you weren’t

change (nobody likes change

aware of yet. Michelle can help.

for the sake of change). If

Keeping Track of Leads Has Never Been Easier One way to market your childcare center is to research local mother and child or mom-

you (the owner or corporate

Feel free to reach out to Michelle

to-be groups in your community.

spokesperson) embrace and

by calling her at 702.902.7165

Once you find them, reach out

provide the “why” we are

or emailing her at mlackey@

changing and the “how” it will Or, if you’re

and connect with them.

make their jobs easier and

at a conference, look for her

improve parent engagement,

at the Smartcare booth. She

everything else is easy.

has recently taken on the

to give a presentation about

responsibility of conference

choosing the right center for

In fact, Michelle typically sees a

coordinator. Attending the

few “Aha!” moments when she’s

conferences gives her the

your child, or offer tips on

doing a demonstration for a

opportunity to interact with you

customer. They usually happen

face-to-face and introduce you to

when showing them features

other people on the Smartcare

This type of presentation can

that set Smartcare apart from

team who can benefit your

give you the opportunity to

its competitors. “I always enjoy

center. Keep an eye out for her!

talk about your technological

customer reactions when they see Smartcare’s automatic billing events (no more batch billing),

Contact the organizers, offering

how to help your child make the transition into preschool.

advantages provided by Smartcare.

the Smartcare Lead Center (no more binders of tour logs that

Have your contact information

disappear onto a shelf in the

and flyers on hand, and consider

back office), and the Smartcare Timeline, which gives them the opportunity to improve parent

offering a discount to members of the group. Then keep track

communication by sharing

of them and follow up using the

activities, photos, and videos

lead management section of the

instantly with their parents.”

Smartcare software.

Michelle’s real-world experience makes her an invaluable

You can learn how to use it here:

resource for you to use as you

make the change to Smartcare.


But even after you’ve been using 13



Working Smarter Little Texas Stars Saves Time and Money With Smartcare

After using Smartcare for 15 months, Don Walden was kind enough to share with us some of his thoughts about his experience. He’s the owner/administrator of Little Texas Stars, which consists of three daycares. 14

Don’s primary job is to “ensure that plans are set in place, payments are correct, payroll, handling employee information, calling on late tuition from home and in office.” This is where Smartcare save him a bunch of time. Don says: “Having Smartcare helps me deal with things without having to drive to each location.” With three daycares under his management, he doesn’t have to visit to take care of the finances. While he’s there, he can focus on the care of the children.

Naturally, this raised some

friendly. Everything was priced

Parents and children with a

questions we wanted to ask

out individually (for services

different last name should be

Don. He was gracious enough to

and features) – another $100

able to be searchable within the

answer each one.

here and there. Procare ended

search feature and connect the

up giving me a full refund.

names. That is the only thing I’d

Q. When do you normally first use Smartcare in a typical day? Basically, I get up and check my emails and pull up the Center Director Web Portal – about 90% or more of my day is spent using Smartcare.

Q. What is your relationship/experience like with Childcare Software, in general? Smartcare is the third software that I’ve used. I previously used QuickBooks for accounting – but no data storage for employees and customers/parents and children. We also had another

With Smartcare, it’s all inclusive!

Q. How did Smartcare surpass your Center’s Software/Customer Service expectations? A great example of how Smartcare

Tech Support. They give us same-day support and can be reached by phone or email! My Customer Success

be when I needed a solution to help

Manager, Crystal Tillmann,

with mass email messaging. I had

is always attentive and is

requested the feature be made available and after a few short months, Smartcare was able to create it and enable this for me and

constantly there for me and my staff – if we ever need her support, as well.

other Centers they serve! So great!

Q. Overall, what do you think of Smartcare? We love it! I think there’s only one

which was unreliable and ended

feature that I’m currently waiting

up switching to Procare.

on the upgrade for – the reports!

month, but we had constant

I really like Smartcare’s

surpassed my expectations would

startup that closed its doors,

We used Procare for about a

like to see improve.

I’m well informed on this feature and its upgrades as we move forward with Smartcare.

Internet the Procare Doesissues yourwith childcare center have

In your Server and it was not very usertheQ. parents throughout day?

Q. Any additional feedback you’d like to give us? I really like Smartcare’s Tech Support. They give us same-day support and can be reached by

phone or email! My Customer the ability to communicate with

opinion, what is the most appealing feature about Smartcare?

Success Manager is always

ALL of them! And I need all of

Thanks Don! We’re working

them! I need all my fingers – just

hard to keep up with our best

like I need all of my Smartcare

customers like you. Always let


us know how we can serve you

Q. What could be done to improve Smartcare for your Center?

attentive and is constantly there for me and my staff – if we ever need her support, as well.

better. We want Smartcare to be your one-stop software for all your Center’s financial needs.



Smartcare University

We created Smartcare University to support you and your staff — to help childcare directors learn and grow in areas of business where they may need an extra hand. We provide extra business support, advice, and help to passionate, dedicated people like you.

Improve your business

24/7. Learn tips and tricks from experts in the industry to save time, gain efficiencies, and improve your business.

Increase your education Improving the quality of your center is always your first priority, but it’s important to remember that you are also responsible for a small business. With Smartcare, you can seamlessly do both.

Smartcare University will help you stay up-to-date on childcare trends and things you need to know — for free.

Join your peers

Join a community of childcare directors, owners, and other experts in the industry. Get help, and learn from and provide insight to others who are “in the trenches” with you.

We look forward to hearing from you and showing you how we can help improve your business and childcare functions. 16 (844) SMARTER