Market Analysis Guidelines for Congregational Child Care Centers
Is your congregation ready to consider a full-time child care center?
If so, where do you begin? What do you need to know? How will you gather data? What will you do with it once you have it?
The first step in this process is to conduct a market analysis, which will help you:
Determine whether or not the local demographics will support a thriving full-time early childhood center in your congregation
Examine comparable programs and local trends in your market
Learn about existing operations and their fee structures
If feasible, set appropriate parameters for establishing a child care center in your congregation
There are a number of different ways to gather market analysis data:
Conduct web searches
Examine public records for existing centers such as state registration documents. These documents will highlight operating violations and other red flags.
Visit the website of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (www.naeyc.org) for a list of accredited child care centers in your region
"Mystery shopping," another excellent way to collect data, offers opportunities for "parents" to:
Contact a center by phone to inquire about fees, hours, early and late care, caregiver to child ratios, programs, and whether all three children in the "family"--an infant, a toddler and a pre-schooler--can be accommodated
Visit the center to see firsthand the operation and assess enrollment (which is often tied to rates that maximize enrollment)
Identify the main child care competitors in your area who offer programs that are similar to those you envision for your congregation's center.
Once the data is gathered, software programs are available such as Procare: www.procaresoftware.com,
to assist in determining appropriate fees, hours of operation, caregiver to child ratios, and other factors. These figures can then be used to build a financial model (including assumptions) to assess the viability of operating a child care center as a part of your congregation.