When you own or run a business, it’s largely your responsibility to find the right people to assist you along the way. Those people can come in the form of clients, colleagues, employees, contractors, professional services, and more. One of the most important areas to focus on in any business is the front desk. Mind you, we’re not just talking about the physical “front desk” where the receptionist sits in your daycare.
We’re talking about the front lines of your daycare in general and having the right people to field all the inquiries, calls, messages, and other needs of clients and visitors that find their way to your business.
So, who’s on the front lines for your daycare?
If that answer is no one, or just you, then you’re a little more than shorthanded—the battle has already been lost and it’s only a matter of time before you spin out in a frazzled stress spiral because you’ve been trying to do it all yourself. A receptionist can go a long way in helping your daycare thrive. Keep parents better informed, create a more professional image for your business, and spend less time on the tedious details yourself when you have someone else handling it all.
Of course, there’s now the decision of how to hire the best receptionist for the job. This is a rather subjective consideration, of course, so we’ve gathered some information and insight to help you make the right decision. Every business has different needs, but your daycare clients depend on you to deliver the solutions they need and the quality of service that they deserve. Here's how you can go about finding that.
Some daycare providers don’t understand their need for a receptionist. They might assume they have things under control, or that the bosses that are in the office can manage the day-to-day tasks. While that could be the case, it’s not necessarily the best way to go. Others are just running a smaller operation or may not be aware of the value of having a receptionist on-site.
Regardless, it is an important thing to consider because it can allow you to have someone dedicated to handling data entry, scheduling, communications, and other administrative tasks. Then, you’ll be able to spend more time with the children and help your business grow in other ways.
Not only that, but when you have a receptionist, you won’t have to risk taking your attention away from the kids to answer phones, greet visitors, or handle other things that should be designated to a receptionist. It’s not just for the sake of your efficiency. In this industry, it’s also for the safety and wellbeing of the children. How would you feel if a child got hurt because you had to run to the front desk and answer the phone? Or what if you were greeting someone at the desk and one of the children tried to sneak out the door?
If you don’t have eyes where they need to be at all times, it could be a huge safety and security issue, and that’s the last thing that you need in a daycare.
We’ve all walked into a school or daycare or witnessed another interaction somewhere that involved children and an adult that did not like them at all—it’s never made sense as to why those adults have chosen careers in education or otherwise working with children, but it’s certainly not going to do your daycare any favors.
Although your receptionist might not be on-site and interacting with the children that you care for, choosing someone that has that friendly, caring demeanor can make all the difference in how parents feel their calls and messages are fielded, and how well they are taken care of when they have questions, concerns, or just want to know more about your daycare.
Friendliness goes a long way in customer service, in any industry. However, in a field like daycare, giving people peace of mind comes from providing a higher level of caring, friendly, loving service so that they can go on about their business and worry less about their children in their absence.
You don’t necessarily have to hire someone with previous daycare reception experience but get a feel for their personality and the chemistry that you have so that you can ensure they’re a good fit for a family-friendly and child-focused business.
Speaking of receptionists that aren’t onsite, maybe that’s the way you’re thinking of going here. If so, there are some things to consider. Weighing the pros and cons of how to source your receptionist will help you ensure that you get the right solution every time. For starters, think about:
Again, there’s no magic formula here, but starting with these considerations should point you on the path to finding the best people for the job.
While you can’t choose a receptionist based on cost alone, we understand that the investment here is going to be a part of your decision. After all, if you can’t afford to drop a couple of thousand dollars on hiring and training a new employee (the current U.S. average is $4K per employee), hiring in-house might not be the way to go. So, let’s talk about the numbers.
Outsourcing has a varied range of costs so we can’t really “estimate” what you’ll spend. However, we can tell you that you’ll typically be able to get more dynamic services for your money when you outsource as opposed to hiring someone onsite. If you do hire someone to work at your daycare or even to work remotely as an employee, you’ll probably spend between $11 and $14 per hour for an entry-level worker.
If you choose someone with more experience, an education background, or other formal education or training, they may garner as much as $18 per hour. This also depends on their duties and responsibilities, of course, so you’ll have to factor that in, as well.
Many daycare businesses don’t have the budget for high-end staff, but they are some of the most deserving. This is where outsourcing can come in handy. You can spend a fraction of what you would on hiring an employee and get experienced, dedicated, professional receptionists to field your calls, messages, and more.
Take the time to compare the costs involved in each option before you make a decision. That way, you’ll know that you are choosing appropriately based on both your needs and your budget or finances.
More important than what you spend on a receptionist is the value that you’re getting from this investment. Receptionists can answer phones and take messages, of course, but they can also do a lot more than that. They can help you with admin tasks, your online presence and marketing, and so forth. When you hire a qualified, experienced receptionist, their duties could include things like:
If you’ve got an activity coming up and you need copies of the coloring sheet for all the kids, you could put the receptionist to task handling that. If you know that your after-hours parents aren’t getting the attention they deserve, perhaps you’ll invest in a receptionist service that can be available 24/7 so that no one gets missed. There’s so much that you can do here—the only limit is your own imagination.
It's tempting to just hire the first person that seems qualified for the position, but if you put a little more effort into it, you will be rewarded accordingly.
We’ve covered a lot of information in a small time frame, but you shouldn’t feel too overwhelmed. It’s all a lot of fairly simple decision-making once you step back and take the time to look at it from an objective standpoint. To wrap things up and make sure we didn’t miss anything, here are some common questions people have about hiring receptionists.
Receptionists today aren’t just phone answerers. They are, essentially, the Jack-of-all-trades of the office. They can handle data entry, admin tasks like scheduling, social media, email, and phone correspondence, and so much more. Ultimately, a receptionist can do pretty much whatever you task them with in the areas of communications and administration, so figure out how to make this investment work in your favor in as many ways as possible.
If you’ve reached a point where you think your daycare needs a little more assistance, it’s probably good to invest in a receptionist. There’s really no “right” time for every business. It depends on when you have the need. If you can see the benefit of having someone to answer the phones, respond to messages, and handle daily admin tasks, it’s probably a worthwhile investment to make.
You don’t necessarily need to find someone with dedicated expertise in the childcare field. However, they should be friendly and enjoy being around kids. The last thing that you want is a receptionist that has a short temper or who doesn’t know how to interact with kids. Even if you just hire a parent or someone with experience in their personal life, that will help more than you know.
If you’re only looking for help for a short period, it might not make sense to hire someone. In this situation, you can contract to an individual, or even better, choose a third-party virtual receptionist service that provides temporary solutions to help you get through staffing shortages, transitions, and other periods of excessive busyness.
You’re busy running a daycare and taking care of people’s children. That should come before everything. But when you don’t have someone to answer the phone, you might not have a choice. And as we mentioned, it’s so much more than just the phones today—you need someone to field the calls, live website chats, SMS messages, and other communications. Plus, it would be even better if they could deal with things like scheduling, lead intake, payment collection, and more.
Guess what? Your answer is here—hire the dedicated virtual receptionists at Smith.ai to handle it all. We can do everything on the list above, and then some, and ensure that your daycare gets the best receptionist solution possible. We’ll even collaborate with you to come up with a strategy so we’re taking care of everything that you need.