So you want to start an after school program? Running an after school enrichment program can be a very rewarding experience. There are a couple areas you will need to focus on to get started. Here are some useful tips below to help get you started.
Step 1 to start an after school program: Do Your Research
Just like any business you want to take a look around at the competitive landscape. Just because someone is already running after school classes or camps in your city, does not mean you can’t start your after school program. When doing your research make a list of all the competitors, their pricing, what you like about them and what you don’t like about them. Your notes will help you start your after school program business with an idea of what makes you different.
Step 2 to start an after school program: Form Your Company
Whether you are simply running classes by yourself or plan to hire teachers to do the classes for you, make sure you are legally setup to do so. You can find more information on the Small Business Administration website (SBA.gov). After you decide on the type of business you want to set up, you will need to fill out specific papers and send them off to the state. Don’t worry… no need to hire an expensive lawyer. Websites like LegalZoom can be a cost-effective way to get started.
Step 3 to start an after school program: Create Your Program
Yes, you have created a company but you will need more than that to successfully start an after school program business. Go back to your research notes, as they may be helpful for the next set of tasks.
Types of classes
Do you want to offer a few classes part time? Start a business? Run and manage a program at your school? First decide what classes you want to offer? Are you specializing in a specific subject or skill? Are you teaching yourself or hiring instructors? Do a Google search for other programs in your area. Get an idea of what is being offered. Can you do a better job? Can you fill a void? These are all the questions you need to ask. Regardless, after school classes and camps should be fun and educational at the same time. Kids want fun and parents want some educational aspect. Try combining both. After school classes can always be changed or tweaked. Once you pick the class or classes to run, don’t be afraid to make changes.
After you decide on class and camp options, you should create after school enrichment or summer camp program policies. Establishing these policies right away will save you a lot of time, headache and problems down the line. At minimum, you should implement Behavior, Refund, Cancellation, Liability and Photo-Release policies. Popsicle requires parents to accept the policies before they pay for classes and camps in our system, giving you piece of mind that they have agreed to all your policies.
Background Checks and Insurance
If you are planning on hiring vendors, contractors or employees to teach classes, you’ll need to run a background check on them. With so many background check companies available online, this should be easy. Background checks may run you between $25-$75 per person, depending on the state you’re in, volume of checks you run, and the type of background check ordered.
Insurance for your program is also important and should be put in place before any programs start to run. Check out this article we put together on insurance. Contact a local insurance agent and speak to them about getting liability insurance for your program. They may recommend other insurance options like abuse and molestation. Insurance may cost you between $750-$1500 a year based on the size of your program and the types of activities you run. The cost can be averaged over the year.
Step 4 to start an after school program: Registration Software
You’ve picked your classes, you’ve set your policies and you’ve hired instructors. Now what? Parents need to be able to sign up and pay for your classes and camps. Having a simple registration process will keep your program running smoothly and will allow you to focus on managing your program. Don’t get stuck here. Our system was specifically created for after school classes and camps. Some registration systems take days to set up, but Popsicle will take minutes. Handling registration, dealing with parents, and processing payments will be the MOST time consuming part of any after school program. Be smart and save time with online registration. Check out this article we put together about the features you need.
Step 5 to start an after school program: Market Your Program
Spread the word! Whether you’re running an after school program for your school or you’re an enrichment company providing classes and camps for other locations– you need to promote your classes if you want great enrollment. Offering cool classes and camps, does not automatically mean you’ll get the enrollment you want. A successful after school class marketing campaign will get you solid numbers and help keep your program growing sessions after session. Check out these simple marketing tools to promote your program.