Remember the TV show “Ally McBeal”? One of the characters in the show constantly apologized for being “snappish”. If your daycare staff is being snippy with your parents, what’s the real cost to you? I’m here to tell you it can cost you tens of thousands of dollars, all in just ten seconds time. That’s one thousand dollars per second, folks.

But first let me tell you the story that has caused me to write this today.

I agreed to help out one of my girlfriends by taking her new dog to the vet this morning for an operation. My friend is a nurse in the local pediatrics hospital and was called in last minute, and as I was working from home I agreed to help out. The vet”s office is 10 minutes from me, not a big deal.

My friend tells me I can drop her dog off any time after 8:45 in the morning. My family got a slow start today, and I spent a lot of time with my daughter’s daycare helping them tweak some holiday promotions. All in all, I didn’t get the dog to the vet”s office until 9:30.

This is where 5 seconds cost this office a lot of money. I walk in with the dog, not as the owner just a friend to the VERY snappish receptionist who tells me “Well, you were supposed to be here at 8:45! Hmph! You’re lucky we don’t have anything else planed or we would have to reschedule!”  I was miscommunicated to, sorry, but as it wasn’t a problem why bring it up?

Now I have a very negative feeling of this vet. I can assure you I won’t use them even though they are 30 minutes closer than my current vet and cheaper. Plus I’ve already told several other people about this and probably won’t stop any time soon. It is going to take a lot of work and praise for this veterinary office to recover from this episode of extreme snappishness.

In less than 10 seconds, this office lost all of my business and the business of many of the people I talk to. Easily thousands of dollars lost this year, and from any future profits they may have had. Ouch!

Is something like this happening at your daycare?

When parents drop of late or forget something, how is your staff responding? Are they friendly and helpful?… or snappy? Do you even know?

If the parents are doing something mildly annoying, but it’s not hurting anyone, probably nothing needs to even be said. If it’s becoming a problem, remind you staff how to politely offer the parent a gentle reminder and the reason why. “I just wanted to remind you we ask you to drop off kids before 9:00. This is because after 9, it becomes disruptive to the class and your child may miss something fun. It would be very helpful for all of us. Thanks.”

If the outcome changes because of the problem move on to solving the problem not rehashing what went wrong. Try your best not to blame but to solve the problem, that’s all that really matters. Nobody can do anything about the past now, the best you can do is make the future the best it can be. “I’m sorry but the kids have already left for the field trip, to get them back for lunch they had to leave at 9. If you want we can some fun activities set up here or you can meet up with the others at _______ and go from there.”

Spend some time working with your staff to make sure they are responding the way you hope they would. Let them know what you want and how you want problems dealt with. This little bit of extra effort can pay a huge dividend to you.

Although you might not lose your current parents over snippy responses I can assure you they will tell their friends and they won’t be jumping to come join you.

It doesn’t take one big thing to grow your daycare, it takes hundreds of small simple things, built one upon the other. The more you get right the bigger you’ll become.