Are you thinking it might be time to terminate a client? Believe me, I understand! I know what its like to feel like something is just not working out with a client. All too many times I feel as though I have held on to a client long past the time I should have set them free. It can be really hard to let go of a client when your enrollment is low and you need the income. But what we providers should consider is that it can be even more costly to retain a client that is not a good fit.
We are our business’ first line of defense
So today I want to not only give you encouragement but also the confidence to know that sometimes if it really isn’t “a good fit” you should catch and release a client. I have also included a really great HOW TO resource for providers who need a three step process to terminate a client. Let’s get into when and why you should consider that it might be time to terminate a child care client.
When is it Time to Terminate?
Top Ten Reasons its Time to Terminate
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Last Updated: 3/6/2017
1. Late Tuition
I wanted to tackle this first. Mostly because this is where infractions begin to expose themselves most often. If someone is not submitting their tuition fees on time and is routinely late, they are basically breaking their contract with the child care, plain and simple. A child care business cannot sustain without a consistent income. The reality is sometimes holding on to a client can be more costly than letting them go! Set a specific time for when payments are due, issue late fees and set a limit as to how many times payments will be received late. If that doesn’t work – Time to Terminate.
Sometimes holding on to a client can be more costly than letting them go!
2. Late pick-ups
Another biggie! And another contract infraction. I encourage parents to stick to their contracted time by enforcing a strict 9-hour care limit. Anything beyond 9 hours is overtime. Sometimes I do get push-back, but once I realized that I was actually working an 11 hour day (just with the kids) and that most people work only an 8 hour day, I had the confidence to point out to parents my day is much longer than theirs.
Another issue to consider is that most licensing agencies require that provider maintains certain adult-to-child ratios. If you have a larger license it can be very difficult to stay within the mandated ratios if you don’t know who will be there and when. At the very least have parents stick to their agreed to times. If they consistently break that – Time to Terminate.
RULES ARE RULES!
3. Constant negotiation
Do you feel like you are in constant negotiation with a client? Do you have someone who is consistently asking for special favors or for you to bend the rules? It is important for providers to remember that our policies and procedures are in place for a reason. Usually, they are to either stay in compliance with licensing mandates or are specific to the needs of your child care business.
Either way, rules are rules! No one knows how much work it takes to run your business more than you. So I would encourage you to shut down the negotiations and enforce your rules or you guessed it – Time to Terminate.
At the end of the week do you constantly feel drained by a certain child or family? I have had clients where communications with them left me upset most of the time. It just felt like one confrontation after another. I mean I was having nightmares about dealing with this family. I finally realized that the relationship was such a struggle that it wasn’t worth it for me (or my business) to continue. I decided to forgo the frustration and it was – Time to Terminate.
5. Out of Scope
Recently I had a conversation with a colleague of mine where she expressed concerns as to whether she should consider terminating a client. She suspected that the child may have an undiagnosed disorder and it was making her day very difficult. I encouraged her to reach out for certain community resources. Ultimately we discussed that even though she loved the family it might be out of the scope of her child care to care for the child moving forward.
It is important to realize that we might very well be doing a child or family a disservice by continuing in a relationship that does not seem to be working. It’s like fitting a square peg in a round hole. It just doesn’t work. The child might be better served if they were in another environment. If that is the case it is ok and it’s – Time to Terminate.
6. Taking away from the other kids
In the last example, my friend was faced with a certain child that was not only constantly causing disruption at the child care but was also taking her time away from the other children. That is another thing to consider. Just as we have to try to get parents to understand that we have several children under our care, we need to remember that as well. We cannot just focus on one child all day.
Although it seems a bit crass, at some point every child has to be “another child at the child care”. This is not to say that you don’t truly care for each and every child. It is to say that you have several individual children to care for and they all deserve equal care and attention. If you find that you constantly have one child (or family) that is requiring you to drain all of your effort and attention it just might be – Time to Terminate.
7. Abusing your policies
If you find that a client is constantly abusing your policies you should think about whether it is worth it to retain them. That is not to say that the business relationship cannot be mended. And for as hard as it is to get new clients, you should definitely try to maintain clients. What I am saying is proceed with caution!
If a parent is willing to disregard one policy they will probably have the same regard for other policies as well. Some people just want things their way. Remember you are the person with the business and license that can be cited if you are found to be out of compliance with regulations. So if they are habitual abusers its – Time to Terminate.
8. Bad Talk
I hope this is kinda a no-brainer. Our businesses rely heavily on word of mouth. That being said, you should not even want to keep a client that is disrespectful of you or your business. Your reputation is on the line. If you find that a client is bad talking about you or your business without a doubt it’s – Time to Terminate.
9. Polar Opposites
Even though you probably discuss your philosophy during your initial meeting with parents, you may find that at some point there are actually differences in opinions. Some parents have an erroneous expectation of what the role of a child care provider is. Some parents are intimidated by the very thought of someone spending more time with their child than they do. Others see the provider in a nanny or babysitter role. It can be an uphill battle if you suddenly find you are on a different page than your client.
At times a conversation with the client might alleviate concerns on both sides. But if there still remains a tension between the provider and parent – Time to Terminate.
10. Won’t Provide for Child’s Needs
Hopefully, you will not run into this problem regularly, but I have on occasion had a parent who would not provide for their child’s needs at the child care. Once I had a parent who did not prepare the child for bottle feeding before starting. The baby would not take the bottle for a full 12 hours. It was a miserable day! Another time the same parent refused to purchase new nipples to replace worn out ones for the baby’s bottle. I know! That one was hard for me to believe too.
Anyway, if you do happen to run into this “special type” of parent it might just be – Time to Terminate.
I know that it can be hard to accept that some children and families just might not be a good fit for your business. But just like there are expiration dates on foods, sometimes there are expiration dates on clients too.
What do you think? Have you ever had to terminate a client? It would absolutely make my day if you would leave me a comment below and tell me why.