Essex, United Kingdom
After six months as a university student, Sian Nisbett decided that she wanted to start earning an income full-time. She entered the workforce as an accountant and began commuting to the city, working over 12 hours a day. Immediately after completing her last accounting qualification exam, she found out that she was expecting.
"It was not in the grand plan to be pregnant at 21," Sian reflects. As she searched for a child care facility for her soon-to-be-born daughter, Sian was dismayed by the low quality standards. "I would not leave my pet dog with some of these nurseries," she recounts.
It was then that inspiration struck. Realizing she had to create a lifestyle that would enable her to care for her family while pursuing a career, Sian started investigating what it would take to open a nursery of her own.
Two years after the idea took hold, Sian had opened Dizzy Ducks’ first location. It turns out that she was not the only parent desperate for high quality child care; within six months, the center was full—with a waiting list of 95 children.
"If you delivery quality care," Sian notes, "people will respond." Dizzy Ducks soon opened its second location, and again reached capacity within six months.
Business was booming, in part because Dizzy Ducks serves clients on multiple levels. While the nursery aims to provide excellent care in a safe environment, staff go above and beyond to develop real relationships with parents. Families don’t need to assume that their children are well cared for; they can see it documented every day.
In making business decisions, from facility design to hiring, Sian uses herself as the measuring stick. "I only serve families what I’d want for myself," she says. That means hiring and training the most qualified caretakers, providing physical spaces that are conducive to children’s comfort and development, and providing individual updates and progress reports to parents on a regular basis.
Like many entrepreneurs, Sian went into business for herself in order to pursue a passion and to have control over her own schedule. But with 150 staff and five locations to manage, the demands on Sian's time can be overwhelming.
"We all have the same number of minutes in a day," says Sian, "and it's what you do with those minutes that's important."
Acknowledging that she is not a highly technical person or digital expert, Sian sees tremendous value in using sales and marketing automation to handle the day-to-day tasks that would otherwise dominate her time. She currently uses the Keap platform for everything from website marketing to newsletter distribution and following up with prospect inquiries.
Between recognizing the lack of good child care in the market and connecting with the customers who need it, Sian has excelled as Director of Dizzy Ducks Nurseries.
Dizzy Ducks' quality service is deeply appreciated by the hundreds of families whose children thrive there, as well as a number of outside organizations. Today, Dizzy Ducks boasts such awards as Nursery World Finalist, Essex Mums Winner, NMT Nursery Award Finalist, and the Healthy Eating Gold Award.
New locations are being opened twice as fast as they were in the beginning, and demand continues to rise.
Dizzy Ducks continues to optimize its business model. Most recently, the nursery has implemented a training initiative for staff to increase their investment in the Dizzy Ducks mission and advance their professional development.
Communication with enrolled families is ever improving, with regular blog articles, social media posts, and newsletters being distributed to update parents on Dizzy Ducks events and provide useful tips, from healthy recipes to activity guides.
The vision for Dizzy Ducks has most recently taken shape with the grand opening of an administrative headquarters, in an old countryside farmhouse. The new headquarters gives Dizzy Ducks staff room to focus on the future. Staff members from marketing, accounting, training, and other departments are pleased to have the space to invest their time and energy in improving the business.
As for Sian, she is looking toward the future—just as she did when she opened her first nursery back in 2005. "There's no point in having a business and not enjoying and reaping the rewards… When I'm old and in my rocking chair, I can think back to all the lovely things we've done as a family."