In today’s episode we are joined by child care rockstar Donna Jensen, owner of the Learning Station. Donna’s passion for creating an enriching, safe, and supportive environment is inspiring and the reason why she is always full with a long waiting list of potential families. We hear Donna’s background from working at a local preschool to owning a franchise and ultimately leading to what has become the Learning Station. She and Kris also discuss why a large team works for her, the importance of lists and tracking data, and finding a great mentor. Finally, she shares resources that she loves and that are captivating enough to break her away a game of Candy Crush!
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Here Are the Key Takeaways From This Episode:
- Donna is from New Jersey and moved to South Carolina in 1987. She accepted a position at a local preschool. She only lasted six weeks and knew she needed to provide in-home care. She did that until 1992, and then expanded her business as a director of a center with 250 kids. In 2000 she and her husband tried out a Gymboree Play & Music franchise and it wasn’t a fit with the culture of their location at the time. In 2002 they started a small center and the Learning Station was born!
- They had an opportunity to move to a facility built to be a child care center, licensed for 175 children, and that is where they presently are today.
- Donna and her husband Jeff are business partners, as well, and we hear about her amazing and large family! They inspired Kris to go on her first ever cruise and become a “boat person.” Kind of.
- She loves providing a happy workplace for her employees to show they are valued. This is done through weekly one-on-one meetings, words of encouragement, and support in continuing education on a consistent basis.
- Donna breaks down the staff at the Learning Station and each of their positions within the overall structure of the organization.
- Her enrollment growth is partly due to customer service, switching to better software, knowing their metrics, and never turning down a family right off the bat.
- Keeping in touch and open communication with parents even during challenging times is very important.
- Donna discusses some of the challenges relating to staffing and finding excellent employees willing to work at a common childcare wage.
- Continuing to read inspiring and insightful material is important to a leadership mindset. Donna gives some of her top picks.