During a workshop years ago I remember the instructor stating how surprised he was that the providers were so willing to share with each other. Now I don’t know about the other providers in the room, but I wasn’t surprised. 

There are so many reasons we should think of each other as collaborators instead of competitors.  I guess that’s why so many of us do form relationships with colleagues. 

So today I want to talk about what might seem the most unlikely of friendships.   I will show you how turning the competition into collaborators can not only help you grow your business but also develop a community of colleagues you can turn to as well.  childcare competition into collaborators

childcare competition into collaborators

From Competitors to Community

I know what you might be thinking, “Why would I want to cozy up with my competition?  I mean they are childcare business owners too.  They will probably steal my clients.” 

Other providers aren’t always the competition.

When I asked “Do you know other providers in your area?” on Facebook I got hundreds of responses from childcare providers saying that they do.  Most providers said that they have developed networks of providers in their communities and regularly share with each other.

childcare competition into collaborators

Unlike that instructor I once had, they understand that other providers aren’t always the competition.  There is so much to be gained from reaching out to your fellow provider.  Here are quite a few.  childcare competition into collaborators

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One of the first friendships I had in the business was in many ways a competitor.  She has her business in the same city as me.  Her ideal client is just about the same as mine.  And for all intents and purposes, we most likely would be fighting to enroll the same families. 

But one day she reached out to me and suggested that we help one another.  We have been close friends ever since.

When she called I was actually in quite a funk.  I had just relocated to the area and my enrollment had suffered.  She offered to refer clients that she could not or would not be enrolling to me.  I thought, wow, that would be awesome.

Over the years, we have continued to reach out to other providers in our area and do the same for them.  Without a doubt, it has helped all of us grow our businesses in many ways.  More on that later.  childcare competition into collaborators

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Alert System

While I’m on the subject of referring people, developing a network of colleagues can also help by alerting each other about problem people as well.  You know the ones who either left your business in bad standing, were horrendous headaches or just where a terrible tour. 

I have found that it can be so helpful to know ahead of time who to avoid. 

Just last year, another colleague of mine called.  She said that a client had mentioned to her that she would be leaving and was enrolling in my childcare. 

childcare-competition-into-collaborators

During our conversation, I learned that the child was really a handful (understatement) and that it took two people to even change his diaper.  My friend stated that she had actually suggested that they find other care, but when the client mentioned me the provider thought she should give me a heads-up.

After our conversation, I realized that I was probably not the right fit for the client either.  Although it was hard to call her back and decline the enrollment, I was able to steer the parent toward more helpful resources.  

I have found that it can be so helpful to know ahead of time who to avoid. 

Coverage

childcare-competition-into-collaborators

A few years ago, another provider in my area reached out to me.  She said she would be taking a vacation soon and was looking for temporary coverage for one of her clients.  It wound up working out great for both of us. 

Although the client was with me for only a week, I was able to develop a relationship with this provider for the future.  It also brought in some extra income that month too.  Love that!  childcare competition into collaborators

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Sharing Resources

A fun perk about having colleagues that you can turn to is that you can also share resources.  Last month my friend sent out a mass text alerting our little network of providers of an upcoming meeting with our licensing advocate.  I hadn’t even been aware of the meeting so I was glad that she notified us in time to RSVP.

childcare-competition-into-collaborators

In the past, my colleagues and I have shared resources for low priced materials, supplies and toys for our childcare businesses. 

TRY IT – You know those bundle sets that might be out of your budget.  Well, what if you split it with another provider?  Now it’s more affordable.

TIP:  You could also rotate items between your businesses too.

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Turning Childcare Competition into Collaborators

As you can see, turning would-be competitors into collaborators can, in turn, develop a community instead.  This community of providers that can ultimately do more to grow and help your business than you could imagine.   childcare competition into collaborators

childcare-competition-into-collaborators

From sending referrals to providing extra coverage to advising to sharing resources, other providers can support your business in so many ways.

So if you don’t know another provider in your area, consider reaching out to one or two. Instead of a competitor, you might find a community.

Do you know other providers in your area?  After reading this post do you think you might reach out?  Please let me know in a comment below.  Or why not join our community of online providers here.  We would love to have you!

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